Tails Never Fails

Scott believed in lucky pennies. When I visited him in Oakland a few years ago, we went out walking. He stopped occasionally, picked a penny up from the ground, turned it over in his hand, and set it back down. I asked him what he was doing. He explained that the pennies we’d seen had all been tails up and were therefore unwanted – because lucky pennies are always found heads up. But by turning the penny over, he was making it lucky for the next person who came along. He explained that his roommate had laid out the idea after Scott had caught him doing it. I chewed on this for awhile, I’d never realized that lucky pennies had to be heads up, I’d assumed any unexpected penny was a lucky one. I didn’t recall ever having claimed a penny as anything other than one cent, so I figured I was going to be okay. I asked Scott, “What if you came upon a penny that you’d turned over the day before – would it be lucky for you?” This seemed to unsettle him, “I think if enough time passed . . . – I don’t know.” I don’t know if he just shrugged that off or not. I hope he wasn’t disillusioned. I hope he still has faith in pennies.

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