I will let the New York Times set the scene:
"Every penny counts. But 10 of them didn’t one recent night in the Bronx, and that’s how the trouble started.
It was about 11:30 p.m. on April 23 when Wayne Jones stopped at the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant in the Soundview section. Mr. Jones, 47, a lieutenant with the Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Service, ordered four fried chicken wings to go. The total was $2.75.
Mr. Jones placed his money on the counter: two $1 bills, two quarters, one dime, one nickel — and 10 pennies.
“The lady behind the counter started yelling, ‘No pennies, no pennies,’ ” Mr. Jones said. The woman told him she would take 3 or 4 pennies, he said, but not 10."Mr. Jones, it happens to me too. I'm perpetually broke these days and so often at newspaper kiosks and in tiny stores, I offer pennies with nickels and dimes to pay for things, small things, and am rebuffed.
One evening last winter on Broadway near 94th Street, I asked a deli guy for a dime in return for ten pennies — I needed the dime to add to another dime and a nickel, to make 25 cents so I could make a call from a pay phone. You'd have thought I had asked to screw his wife.
"NO, NO, NO, NO PENNIES," he blared. He just couldn't be bothered. I made a scene.
"I just need a dime so I can make a call from a pay phone," I said, showing him my other dime and nickel. "Come on, you have change, these pennies are legal tender, and I. Need. To. Make. A. Call. Have you no sense of human decency?" I must have sounded hysterical.
"Get Out!" He shouted.
"I'm not leaving! Where's your sense of decency, do you have an ounce of kindness in you?" We continued like this until a customer next to me took my side.
Looking at the deli guy, he said "come on man, the guy just needs to make change for the phone." Then he reached into his pocket and gave me two quarters.
"See? That's basic human kindness at work, you toad," I squeaked, and fled into the night. I thanked the other customer, obviously. What happened to Wayne Jones? He too made a scene. Just right.