The Best of Andy Rooney

Not many of us go to work after school or college and stay at the same job for the rest of our lives. It certainly happens less now than it did even 50 years ago.

For two summers when I was in college, I worked for the Union Bag and Paper Company in Hudson Falls, N.Y., for $18 a week. My mother made sandwiches for me to take to work and I shared the cost of the gas it took to get us to work with a friend named Buster. I went home for dinner, so, except for my share of the gas, which cost 24 cents a gallon, the $18 I made was pure gold.

On the job, I worked with a man named Wallace Ringer, who had never worked anywhere else. We called him "Ring." Ring knew how to do everything better than anyone I've ever known, although he'd never been to high school because his family was poor and he had to go to work when he was young.

I learned more from Ring during two summer months than I learned the rest of the year in college. To this day, I'll be doing some job around the house and think to myself, "My gosh, Ring taught me how to do that 70 years ago."

I earn a lot more money now but it isn't as satisfying. I've never gotten over feeling rich if I have money in my pocket, but I don't carry what I did before I had much. Most of the money I used to carry was change, and it was heavier than bills. I think a single penny weighs more than a $100 bill.

I can imagine a time when they stop making pennies. Whatever metal is in them must be worth more than a penny, so maybe I'll start hoarding them.

If I socked away 1,000 pennies, I'd have $10. If I stashed 10,000 pennies, I'd have $100. I wonder if I could pay for meals in restaurants with all of those pennies? For all I know, they might like pennies. Better yet, maybe I'll wait until each of my pennies is worth a dime. It'll happen some day.

I think we're all fascinated by money - how much we make, how much the next guy pulls in, how much our money will be worth in the future.

I don't know how much money is in circulation. Most of mine is in the bank and I never see much of it. One day, I'd like to go to the bank and ask to look at all of it just to make sure they really have it. I'll bet they'd have some excuse and wouldn't show it to me. I suppose banks deal only in numbers on paper, not real dollar bills.

Today, I seldom have more than a few dollars in my pocket because I pay for everything with a credit card or something other than cash. Cash seems to be going out of style. In New York City, the only thing I pay for in cash is a taxi ride, and some taxis now let you charge the trip.

It's a good thing, too, because cabs are expensive. A ride from the office to Greenwich Village costs as much as I made in a week on my first job.

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