Financial Planning for Geeks

Go Ahead and Take That Wooden Nickel

- Potpourri

It’s an old-fashioned saying: “Don’t take any wooden nickels.” But my experience with wooden nickels has been entirely positive. Read on for my own story about the one I took and how it made a difference for me.

Blog Post Thumbnail
Love is the answer, baby

Several years ago, my husband and I were checking out a new microbrewery in our area. If you’ve read my bio or spent any time with me, you probably know I’m interested in beer and am trying to visit every microbrewery in WA state. So nothing new there.

While we sat there sipping, a somewhat rumpled man came up to us and started chatting. He said he wanted to give each of us a piece of his art if that was OK. This is where things go Sideways in Seattle: in general, speaking to strangers is frowned upon and those who attempt it are looked upon with suspicion. I’m generalizing, but as a semi-friendly person I’ve certainly experienced the Seattle Freeze.

Going against my introverted impulses and local culture, I said “Sure!” He handed me one wooden nickel and my husband another, we thanked him, and he went back to his own table. These wooden nickels are brightly painted, and they have “Cool Cat” and a drawing of a cat wearing sunglasses on one side (no link to the Cool Cat cartoon, by the way). On the other side is a quote, presumably selected for the recipient.

It’s not like this guy knew me, but somehow he knew which wooden nickel was for me. It said, “Spread love everywhere you go.” It’s a quote from Mother Teresa, and it spoke to me (very loudly, as it turns out). I took it to work with me and looked at it every single day after that. It helped me remember that this is my purpose: to offer love everywhere I go. Whether I’m giving financial advice, attending a Barry Manilow concert (yep, that happened), or sitting in my local taproom I truly feel that offering my love to people is ME. It’s what I do.

Now I’m not saying I always do it or even do it well, and some people don’t want my silly love. That’s OK. But Wooden Nickel Guy hit on a truth about me and my squishy, vulnerable heart: I like offering love and connecting to people. It can be as simple as making REAL eye contact with the cashier at Starbucks and saying, “thank you!” or as complicated as a deep, long-standing relationship with my best friend. But I’m convinced that this is what I’m here to do.

So what are you here to do? Let me know below.

And just in case you’re still wondering, my husband’s wooden nickel said, “We’re all in this together…walking the line between faith and fear.” That one is from a song by Old Crow Medicine Show. What do you take from that one? Put your comments below.

Thanks, Wooden Nickel Guy. “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world (that one’s from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” later co-opted by Willy Wonka himself).” Go ahead and take a wooden nickel here and there. It worked wonders for me.

Author Profile Picture

Penny Farthing

I, Penny Farthing (non-wizarding name Kerry Read ), actually have a day job in the world of finance. This blog came into being because of my deep and abiding love for geeks and Personal Finance.