No one took it. It’s mine now.

There is exactly one empty seat on the bus and that seat is occupied by a single dime. I noticed it when I first boarded, but didn’t pick it up. There were already passengers seated in all the seats surrounding it and it seemed rude to push in to pick up a coin and then sit down somewhere else. I decided I would watch and see if anybody else noticed it or picked it up: if it was still there when I arrived at my stop then I would pick it up. 

The bus got fuller until every seat was filled except for the seat occupied by the dime. 

Why? What mysterious power did this dime possess which made it both unnoticeable and yet repelling? Truly, had no-one else noticed it besides me? Or was everybody quietly watching it in a cold war of sideways glances, waiting to see who would be bold enough to teach out and take it. Neither would surprise me: I’ve often noticed a fallen coin in a crowded place only to realize that I’m the only one seeing it. Perhaps it is more who is the strange one for having the compulsion to pick up coins off the ground: the trick of glueing a quarter to the sidewalk is the cruelest torment for someone like me. 

I have to wonder what this says about humans on a higher level: how often do we overlook and even avoid opportunity? What is it that prevents us from seizing even the smallest of rewards that life puts in front of us each day? Clearly, for me, social convention and a fear of being rude plays a role. Why didn’t I pick up the dime? Fear of being thought rude and presumptuous. A weakness? Perhaps. But at least a choice: I noticed the dime but chose not to pick it up. Are others making the same choice? I may never know.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on February 1, 2017.

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