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How much money is worth picking up?

November 27, 2012
By ANDREW POTTER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

NOTE: Well, I wasn't arrested yet for last week's column about the piggy bank theft. You'll notice here, I'm still on the topic of money this week, though I'm not stealing it.

A couple of weeks ago, as I scurried out of my car on Main Street in Marshalltown to get a photo of the wreaths being put up, I saw a quarter on the ground. That is usually prime for me to stop and pick it up, but I told myself I'd get it on the way back to my car as I had a photo to snap. I forgot to look for it on the way back to the car and now regret not picking it up to begin with.

That got me thinking. How much money on the ground is worth it to stop you in your tracks and pick it up?

I say anything a dime or more and I'm all over it and if I have the time a nickel can always be inviting. If I'm really bored, I can even be enticed to scoop up a penny, but I don't recall doing that in awhile.

I think there are two other key factors that weigh in on whether I bend down and pick the money up. One, is if I'm in a hurry I won't bend down. The second factor is a big one and that is if there are people around looking at me. You don't want to get embarrassed when people see you bend down to get what you believe is a shiny new quarter and it ends up being a piece of tin foil.

So, the less people around the better for money grabbing, especially if you are not appearing very graceful when you pick up the change or showing butt crack.

I guess I can add one more factor that I just thought about - the condition of the money. If it looks like it's been sitting in a pond of green ooze, I usually stay away. Ditto if any area dog might have left a "present" on it. No amount of change is worth dealing with soiled coins, or coins with an unknown substance on them.

We recently were walking as a family and found $5 on the ground - a pretty big score and it appeared to have been run over by dozens of cars before we got our hands on it.

My all-time pick up was a $100 bill, only to find out minutes later that it belonged to someone else. I was too honest to run off with it and had to find its rightful owner.


Honesty might be the best policy, but $100 would have been nice too.

As you can see, some people don't need to play the Powerball to get their fortune, they just need to look down.


Reporter Andrew Potter is a Tuesday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or



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