Friday, May 08, 2009

In which being nice (in a way that's already beneficial to me) reaps an unexpected reward.

So, Costa Rica has gone through several iterations of coins in the years I've lived here. (And when I first arrived there was at least one additional set from years back that would still pop up occasionally in a handfull of change, but don't anymore.)

The ones that were in general circulation when I arrived, and all but the smallest of which are still in use today, are really big for small change. The 20-colon (pronounced cologne) coins especially are just needlessly big and bulky. Granted, back when I arrived, 20 colones was a bit more than 20 cents - an amount you'd sometimes spend and/or take seriously. Now, it's about 3.5 cents, but those big ol' coins are still floating around.

Those original coins were silver colored. Then, a few years ago, they put out a new line of bronze-looking coins. Their sizes are more reasonable; the 100-colon coin is maybe a little bigger than a US quarter, and certainly smaller than the old 20s. The 500-colon coin is bigger than the big 20s, but it's worth nearly a dollar even today, so I'm okay with that.

Then a while after that they put out some little aluminum coins for the smaller denominations. It's really hard to take those ones seriously; they're so light and thin that they don't seem like they should actually be worth anything. (Probably because they, as bits of metal, aren't, themselves, particularly worth anything.)


I'm not actually here to tell you about Costa Rica's coinage.

Except insofar as to say that you really need to spend those buggers down because they pile up and they are heavy and take up a lot of space. If you're like me and keep your change in a pants pocket...well, you don't want to have too much of it, especially if you're not a belt-wearing girl.

My solution is to keep it in the ashtray of my car, and give it to people who ask for change at the intersections. I even have a little compartment in my dash that...well, I don't know if it's made specifically for coins, but it sure is ideal for them. So I keep the bulk of the change in the ashtray, and then pull out one 100-colon coin (worth about 17 cents) along with one or two of the smaller ones that I really just want to get rid of, and hand that out the window when someone comes along asking for money.

And they do. Some people just ask for handouts on their own, but there are also a lot of drug and alcohol rehab centers that don't receive government funding, and one of the ways they bring money in and give their clients something productive to do, is to have them work the intersections, especially at rush hour. You can tell them by their yellow t-shirts and sealed cans or boxes. They also solicit donations on buses, but I don't ride the bus that much anymore, so that's not part of my story and you can disregard this entire sentence if you are so inclined.


There's one particular rehab guy who works one particular intersection in the town of San Antonio de Belen, who is just always so happy to see people, and friendly and smiling and God-blessing people and just generally being a bright spot in the day. Sometimes he's not there, and sometimes I have a green light and don't have to stop, or stop too far back for him to work his way to my car, but on the days we coincide, I give him the coins and he wishes me a blessed day, and then I drive the rest of the way to work.

So today he was there, and I gave him my 25 cents or so, and he asked if I like to watch videos. Actually, he asked if I like watching films or music. I thought he was promoting some kind of upcoming event - maybe a benefit - or possibly selling tickets to something, but I was wrong. He says that he has a policy (and I'm thinking it's just him, not his organization) of giving something back to people who give regularly. He says people who do nice things should get incentives, and he's going to find me a nice comedy for me (that being the type of video I told him I like).

Now, as we've discussed before, Costa Rica's intellectual property scene is not exactly pure as the driven snow, so I'm sure he knows someone who makes copies of things, and it'll only cost him the price of a blank DVD or so. And of course that's not really the way I tend to roll when it comes to acquiring videos, but then sometimes these things just sort of seek you out.


Lisa May 08, 2009 8:16 PM  

Know what? You're very nice and very practical. With or without a belt.

The Cunning Runt May 11, 2009 7:29 PM  

Kindness and goodness shine like beacons in the lives of those who let them, and attract blessings.

That's just how it is.


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