THE LITTLE THINGS |
March 01, 2007
THE LITTLE THINGS
Name: MAJOR Michael Irwin
Posting date: 3/1/07
Returned from: Iraq
Milblog url: cybirr.blogspot.com
It’s the little things that get our attention –- in this case, five cents.
At overseas locations, the base economy is penny-less. AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service) does not use pennies; all prices our rounded to the nearest nickel. The cost of shipping pennies is more than the value of the pennies themselves.
Here in Iraq they take it further; no coins at all. But they don’t round to the nearest dollar. Instead, they issue "pogs". These mini-gift-certificates are used in place of coins. On one side is the AAFES logo and some suitably patriotic image, and on the other a 5¢ 10¢ or 25¢ notation. AAFES makes it clear that "pogs" are cash value as depicted, and can be redeemed at any AAFES world wide for the full value. And really, I don’t want carry a bunch of loose change in a combat environment. This program makes sense.
So I have not seen a real coin in several months.
While shopping at the local BX to get something or other I handed the cashier some dollar bills, and put my hand out, expecting a few pogs. An odd weight settled in my hand. I looked down and Lo, there in my hand was a nickel! My two colleagues and I stopped talking and all gazed in wonder at the coin. It was as if there was an angelic chorus in the background, and the image of Jefferson seemed to glow. It was a real nickel. A tangible piece of home! A no-kidding bit of America!! It was a remarkable moment...
To us, but not to the cashier. She looked at the slack-jawed idiot aircrew standing in front of her, staring, then looked at the coin in my hand for a moment, then looked at the three dummies again.
“Hey, it’s a nickel. Get over it! NEXT!”