Thursday, December 1, 2011

February Was Only Half Over, Ellen McGrath Smith

FEBRUARY WAS ONLY HALF OVER

and so we decided to roll the coins.  We emptied all tin cans
and urns on the bed, and the bedspread was covered in coins.

The first large-scale contracts related to Hurricane Katrina, as in
Iraq, were awarded without competitive bidding, and using so-called
cost-plus provisions that guarantee contractors a certain profit
regardless of how much they spend.

We decided to pawn the wedding ring.  On the bus
on the way back, I cried to remember the love-knots
were deliberate and started in wax.  Then the gold
was poured over.  I paid the light bill with that.

Expecting nothing but the best, Margaret Ann wants to throw the biggest Sweet 16 party in South Carolina history. In anticipation of her birthday, Margaret Ann first goes shopping with her mom at the BMW dealer. After Margaret Ann's mom buys her a flashy convertible, she goes on a shopping spree with her dad who treats her to almost 2000 dollars worth of new clothes.

Those rolling tubes ran out, and so we decided to count out
the coins, then divide them in stacks and wrap units in foil:
50 pennies; 40 nickels=$2; 50 dimes=$5; 40 quarters=$10.

Based on data collected from five participants (and counting) and multiple anecdotes, rolling coins should not take more than two (2) minutes a roll for most people, although some individuals may take longer. At two minutes a roll, you would save only $1.34 an hour for rolling your own pennies (60 minutes / 2 minutes roll = 30 rolls * 50 coins a roll * 8.9% or 4.45 cents fee each roll = $1.32.) However, for each higher denomination, the amount saved rises as shown in the table.

We decided to sell the antique dental cabinet.  Over the Internet,
I pretended I knew what I had.  That took care of half my June expenses.
This was the year the cost of cigarettes spiked.  I bought my own
rolling machine.  I spent much of that year rolling coins and tobacco.

Brad Johnson noted in today’s Progress Report that “the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are greater than the entire salary of most Americans.”

We decided that, after rolling coins, our hands had touched everyone,
somehow.  Some people soak them in bleach first — for germs —
but getting sick was the last thing on my mind.  Penetrating every sleeve
with my upright middle finger, I was getting through the month.
I was getting through the month and touching everyone.
_____________________
About "February Was Only Half Over," Ellen McGrath Smith writes:
 "February Was Only Half Over" was first published in Kestrel (Spring 2010): http://www.fairmontstate.edu/kestrel. It's a poem written about a particularly hard winter economically when, though employed full-time, I struggled to get through the month. I tried to get at the harsh irony of this young century: at the moment when more Americans than ever struggle to make ends meet, the "luxury" class has never had it better, and we are surrounded by media messages that make this bitterly clear. The collaging of those voices, along with "helpful tips" about rolling coins, was a way to place my own difficulties in a larger context. The resentment happened "naturally" with the middle finger being used to hold open the coin-rolling sleeve at the end. I've been fortunate enough to be able to say that, at least for now, those memories are in the past; but I'm overhearing in the other room a 60 Minutes story about 2 kids who are living in their family car. The Occupy and 99 percent movements may be the last chance Americans have to lessen the ever-widening income gap that threatens to destroy us as a nation. 

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