Journal Entry: Weight = 178.0; Coinage = $.56, 36 pennies, 2 nickels, 2 dimes; glass bottles = 3; ground scores = 2. Best find, seven pennies scattered in a real estate parking lot. Someone in the office and I are playing games. I check this lot weekly and always find several pennies scattered about. As one follower noted, these are “salted” pennies—pennies left for me to find. The MoneyWalker “mines” various parking lots on every walk, finding even one coin in a relatively small parking lot is rare. Thus, to find pennies in this one particular lot so frequently goes beyond chance. “Keep them coming, I enjoy the game.”
Feature Entry: We humans seem to be hardwired to compete. In earlier posts, the MoneyWalker has identified brain centers that when stimulated provide pleasure or “buzzes.” One known “reward center” is the ventral striatum located in the cerebellum. Neuroscientists Christian Elger and Armin Falk in ScienceDaily (Nov. 23, 2007) rewarded participants with 30 to 100 Euros by completing a difficult visual perception tasks. The better the performance the more Euros received. When told their score and corresponding Euros earned, the activation lights on a magnetic resonance tomography blinked.
Interestingly, the subjects performed in pairs with full knowledge of their partner’s earned Euros. Thus, there was competition. When one subject earned more Euros than his partner, the tomography blinks were stronger for the subject with the highest Euro score. When the reward was the same for each subject, there was no difference in the tomography blinks.
One key to the competition research is that the reward must be perceived as being “worth aspiring to.” Like Elger and Falk’s subjects, the Moneywalker has competition for finding lost money. I have three classifications for my competitors: Active, Passive, and Situational.
Active money walkers are people that search for money in my neighborhood. One gentleman rides his bicycle using a semi push semi ride technique. When he gets to a money hot spot, he slowly pushes his bike while looking for coins. Our paths frequently cross.
Passive money walkers includes all people willing to bend and retrieve a coin. Seventy-five percent of U.S. citizens surveyed indicate that they will stop and pick up a penny. It follows then that 75% of the people in my neighborhood are passive competitors.
Situational money walkers are people that check money spots in their place of business. Examples include the grocery cart retrievers and the employees of fast food chains.
Usually the competition is friendly, but not always. In one Burger King, on two different occasions, employees have “shooed” me away from checking the drive through. At another, the grounds cleaner remarked in Spanlish, “My coins!” as I checked a Rally Burger drive through. One owner of a locally popular restaurant noticed my early morning habit of checking his parking lot and asked me to get off of his property. I found a ten dollar bill once and I think he saw me while reading his newspaper from his car.
But sometimes the tone is cooperative. This morning, a McDonald’s ground sweeper greeted me with this cheerful comment: “I saved some pennies for you at the drive through.” What is the MoneyWalker’s response to the competitors? I honor their request. It is the moral thing to do.