My morning commute allows me time to think, a lot. I often catch myself in these thoughts and wonder if they are original. Am I the only person that has ever existed to think this. Slipping into my old pessimistic ways, I generally think that there are no original ideas left in the world, Steve Jobs thought of them all. We’ve existed long enough as people and have exhausted our brain-power. There has to be firsts though and maybe, just maybe this one is original. I’m a half-full kind of guy these days:-)
It all started as my drive came to a grinding slow this morning. I observed a person in front of me flick his/her cigarette butt out the barely cracked window. First of all, stop smoking, its gross already. My pondorance lead me to believe that people don’t use the ashtrays in their cars anymore, as I see this a lot. Some of the newer models don’t even come with these. And the one’s that do are filled with loose change. I peer into my own and yes, quarters, nickels and dimes. I decide to count, three dollars in total. So, I begin doing some simple and crazy math in my brain.
***Disclaimer*** I was held back in the third grade for having problems with basic math. The statistics I’m about to present to you are approximates, based on real numbers, rounded and made a bit easier to understand.
I commute in the Bay area of Northern California. There are eight total bridges. I’m going to use two. 270,000 cars cross the Bay Bridge every day. 120,000 cars cross the Golden Gate everyday. Most of those are the same car twice(for to and from work) so divide by two. 135,000 (Bay Bridge) + 60,000 (Golden Gate) = 195,000 total cars. I looked up the other bridges and the numbers are a little lower combined, so I’m going to add 105,000 more cars, = 300,000 cars(approx and rounded,lol). In 2008, there were 529,000 registered vehicles in the region(real stat). So, I’m going with 300,000 cars commuting five days a week. So, in review, I counted my change, three dollars. I realize that everyone does not have that amount, some more, some less. I’m going with two dollars and seventy-five cents on average per car. 300,000 cars X 2.75= 825,000 dollars in change driving five days a week to and from work. The thing is, I think, most people use there change. I estimate it takes me a month to recycle and refill my change supply to my empty ash receptacles. So, that’s 2.75 cents a month, that’s 33 dollars a year. Multiply that by 300,000 commuters = 9.9 million dollars (9,900,000.00 seems more real with the zeros) IN LOOSE CHANGE! My head starts to spin. I understand that we are not the only commuting community in the nation, so I’ll take it a step further. Let’s say five major commuting areas; San Fransisco, LA, some shitty city in Texas, DC and NYC. With more and less, I think I can average 300,000 per city. Multiplied by 5 = 1.5 million cars. If we use our same change per car average of 2.75 that’s 4,125,000 dollars IN LOOSE CHANGE driving to and from work, 5 days a week. (Stay with me) replenish your coins once a month like me at 33 dollars a year and that’s 49.5 million dollars IN LOOSE CHANGE. 49,500,000. WOW, get away from just the commuters and there are approx 250,000,000(250 million) registered vehicles in the US. Let’s say half collect loose change at 2.75 per car. 125 million cars x 2.75 = 343,750,000 dollars in cents. Using my 33 per year formula, (ready?), that’s…. 4 BILLION 125 MILLION DOLLARS IN LOOSE CHANGE…
It would take some work. What if one year, we all saved our car change and donated it…to something. Would it matter? Perhaps, raises for teachers? Help underprivileged, hungry kids? And then it hits me…This is not an original idea! The salvation army does this every year with the buckets and bells. We have ridiculous bridge tolls, 5 bucks for me, everyday. Taxes on everything. All ways of taking our LOOSE CHANGE. Maybe I’ll think of something original tomorrow. My brain hurts.