Sunday, March 22, 2009

For Money Finding Aficionados Only

Journal Entry: Weight = 176.6; Money Found = $1.90; 20 pennies, 3 nickels, 3 dimes, 5 quarters; Glass bottles retrieved =17. Also found was a “new” T-shirt.

Feature Entry: Today, stacked neatly as if stored, the MoneyWalker found 4 quarters on top of the caddy in one of the vacuum bays of the neighborhood car wash. Money finding aficionados might want to know, how is it that people lose money?

First, not all found money is lost money. Some is intentionally left behind or even thrown away. Pennies at a car wash, dumped from a floor mat; a penny fling when a person wants to empty a dash-board container overflowing with pennies, they just fling them out the window; and another is the result of a mishandle such at the fast-food drive through, the driver chooses to ignore the dropped coins. As an active searcher for misplaced money, I search these spots, but they are my least favorite finds. The money has little soul.

More worthy finds are lost money that has unintentionally gone astray. The best examples are curb-side and parking lot money. I suspect the driver in reaching for the car keys in the jeans pocket or strap purse, unknowingly pulls change from the pocket or purse. In human factors this is called a “structural interference” problem.

However, reasons cited above can’t explain the four stacked quarter find. For this information, the answer is “capacity Interference.” First a brief tutorial about memory systems—short term sensory store(STSS), short term memory (STM), and long term memory (LTM) and their respective storage durations, codings, and capacities. When a stimulus contacts memory (STSS), storage is less than a 1 sec and coding is literal. The stimulus is immediately handed over to STM for abstracting and rehearsal (the round bright object is a quarter, thus valuable). With rehearsal, such important details as location, value and amount is stored in LTM. Here is the problem. If something distracts us at the beginning of STM that blocks rehearsal, important details such as location and placement are not “laid down” in long term memory. In 30 seconds if rehearsal has not occurred, it is like the event never occurred. Back to the four quarters scenario, something happened between placing the quarters on the caddy and rehearsal. Thus, when the vacuuming was complete, the unused quarters were left behind, but not intentionally.

As a money finding aficionado, the neuroscience gained from those that study human factors is of interest, but what is of more interest is the fact that people leave money on the ground and that is very fun to find and retrieve what they have left behind. That is why I am a MoneyWalker.

The MoneyWalker


  1. Whoa, I just had flashbacks of my psychology classes 19 years ago!

    I also find myself occasionally wondering about how those coins ended up on the ground waiting to be rescued and put safely in my left pocket. I once saw a large scatter containing lots of silver right in the middle of a very busy intersection, impossible to retrieve. It drove me crazy for weeks when I passed through. Finally it all disappeared, but I still think about it each time I happen that way.

    I have a relative who dislikes pennies and throws them out of his car window. I just chuckle and say "thanks".

  2. I know, I know, I get carried away with the psyc stuff. Spent too many years teaching motor learning at the University of New Orleans. Unreachable scatters are agonizing. Saturday night we drove through a McD and I noticed two quarters and several other coins in the drive through, but with Ms. MoneyWatcher in the car--forget about it.