Wednesday, May 09, 2012

My 10 cents’ worth

At a dollar-store cashier today, I was taking my change when a dime slid off the rounded edge of the counter and fell to the floor just under the cashier stand/counter.  I couldn’t see it, but leaned over to pick it up after I had the rest of my change.  Crouched down and peeked under the front of the counter, but the area underneath was messy (and dusty!) and I couldn’t see my dime.

Then I spotted a neglected, dirty toonie on the floor (for US readers, that’s the handsome $2 coin at right, only not so clean), reached over, and slid that out instead before dusting myself off and leaving.

So why is it, even though I technically came out $1.90 ahead, that I’m still irked that I couldn’t find my original dime?  Which was only “mine” for about two seconds before it fell in the first place?

I guess it’s true what all those psychological-type books I’ve read say: we feel a LOSS more strongly, and take it more personally, than we feel a GAIN.  If I give you ten cents and then take back five, you will feel less wealthy, even cheated in some way, than if I just gave you a nickel in the first place.

Silly things, brains, aren’t they???

Hmm… and it just now occurred to me that the right thing, the very best, ethically and probably halachically, would likely have been to turn in the toonie and walk away empty-handed.  But then I’d have been $2.10 “short” and very, very irked indeed!

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