Monday, September 15, 2014

My Renton moment

Tough times will show you what a man is truly made of, how far a man will truly go.

For me, that was fishing a $2 coin out of the toilet on Saturday afternoon. A $2 coin that wasn't even mine.

Yes indeed, I was reminded a bit of Trainspotting this past weekend when I took my son to the potty at a cafe called Grub, on a beautiful spring afternoon in Melbourne. We selected a stall out of about four options, and lo and behold, shining brightly at the bottom of this particular toilet, was this:

Yes indeed, that coin is worth two whole dollars here in Australia. It's the smaller of two gold-colored coins, the other being the $1 coin, and it is in fact the most valuable of all Australian coins, there being none with greater street value.

I figured, "What's a little toilet water to keep that coin from being in my back pocket?"

So a quick splash of the hand later, it was.

You may recall that in Danny Boyle's seminal Trainspotting, the character Renton (Ewan McGregor) does his own toilet dive -- literally -- for a lost valuable, in this case a couple opium suppositories that get accidentally evacuated while he's doing his business. Of course, this is what Renton's so-called "worst toilet in Scotland" looks like:

While the porcelain monster I was staring down on Saturday was more like this:

Nonetheless, most people would be shocked by what I did. I know my wife was. Still, I probably would have done it even for the $1 coin.

It's not that we are really mired in "tough times," per se, as I teased in my opening line. But I feel like even a year into our Australian adventure, we are still financially recovering from the transition, a reality of the fact that we're only getting 60% of my wife's salary until January (when she goes back full time) and we're now paying for two children to attend daycare (one four days a week, one three). My own salary is lower than in the States (and I didn't start earning it until midway through March) and we had to buy a bunch of things over again here (though were fortunate to have a number of others gifted to us). We'd actually finally be back in positive territory, more or less, except we're likely to drop close to ten grand on a trip to the U.S. in November, which will plunge us right back into debt.

So yeah, I'm going to do an easy, painless, clean-water toilet dive for a $2 coin.

You could argue that it's hardly the most absurd thing I've ever done for a coin, especially since it took all of two seconds. There was the time earlier this year when I walked all over a mall to find the location of the Woolworth's grocery store, just so I could return the shopping cart I'd found that had a dollar coin stuck in it. (You rent your shopping cart at a lot of grocery stores here, by sticking in a $1 or $2 coin that releases the cart from the cart in front of it. If you never return the cart to its home, you forfeit the coin.)

My wife prefers the story back in the U.S., when I was crossing the street and went back into the middle to pick up a penny I'd passed, when there was a car coming. I wasn't close to being hit by the car, but for my wife, it was closer than a penny should have warranted. I have no choice but to agree with that.

But a penny saved is a penny earned, and so too is a $2 coin fished from a public toilet. 

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