A cry for change


It’s taken far too long, but I now see the light. Change is needed. Now.

In the words of the old hymn, “I once was lost, but now am found / Was blind but now I see.”

Like many, I’ve resisted change. Change is hard. It forces you to think.

For some, these awakenings are a slow, gradual process, an evolution that can take years, even decades. I my case, it was more sudden, triggered by recent events and the resulting calls for change all over the country during the last several months. From big cities to small towns like ours, we’ve heard the calls and seen the signs. The need for change is obvious.

It’s not just individuals. It’s organizations. Even businesses, from large corporations to small mom and pop stores have joined in demanding the change that I now recognize is necessary if we are to continue as a society.

Some of you will be skeptical, and I can’t say I blame you. I can’t erase my past. All I can do is recognize the need for change in the present. In time, I’m hoping you’ll come to accept me as an ally.

Often, these insights come to us at the oddest moments, in the most mundane of circumstances. I remember the exact instant when my epiphany struck.

I was getting takeout at the Panera Bread at MarketStreet in Lynnfield. I had ordered my usual Green Goddess Cob Salad and four chocolate chip cookies. As always, the total came to $21.16. I handed the nice young man behind the counter $22 in cash.

I thought the monetary transaction was taking a very long time, and then I realized he was giving me back 84 cents in pennies. When I questioned him, he made a point of letting me know it was my own fault, pointing to the sign that was right in front of the cash register, which I hadn’t bothered to read.


That’s when I witnessed firsthand the need for change. He had no nickels, dimes or quarters to give me, the cashier explained. I was going to have to accept 84 pennies.

I was about to tell him to keep the change, but by this time he had already gone to the trouble of counting out half of it and had even broken open a new roll of pennies, so I let him finish and stuffed the 84 grubby copper coins into my pocket.

The experience weighed on me as I left the store. I pondered how, in the midst of a national coin shortage, pennies remain abundant.

The Federal Reserve says that business and bank closures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coins, and the slowed pace of circulation has reduced available inventories in some areas of the country.

Online shopping and merchants encouraging contactless payments are also factors in creating the national coin shortage.

But enough boring facts. I would like to propose a solution. I’m calling for the next government stimulus relief payments to be distributed in nickels, dimes and quarters.

Meanwhile, I want to do my fair share. This seems like a perfect time to put the contents of my coin jug to good use. For a limited time, I’m offering three quarters for a dollar. Also available, 15 nickels or seven dimes for a buck.

It’s the least I can do. After all, I’m all about change.

[This column originally appeared in the August 20, 2020 Wakefield Daily Item.]

“Change” graphic by Sean MacEntee.

4 Responses to “A cry for change”

  1. 1 John DelRossi

    I only had to read the 1st paragraph to know that I would disagree with you. I am 81 years old. Graduated in 56. I don’t want to hear how us old people don’t know anything. We have school pride. Oh to be able to go back to those years. We lived and died for our Warriors. To wear that high school uniform was one of my greatest accomplishments.To me it a name change would be dishonoring the school itself. Too many of you want to change history. It won’t work most of us will always identify as

  2. 3 Anthony Antetomaso

    Penny for my thoughts?

  3. 4 John Breithaupt

    You have inspired me to run my hands behind the cushions on the living room couch and dredge up all the change that is there.

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