Thursday, November 08, 2007

Of Nickels and Dimes

When I was a little girl, I was quiet during family gatherings. I don't know if all Georgian families are this way, but my family tells stories. And growing up, I chose to listen rather than try to tell stories.

Stories can be passed from generation to generation. We tell stories to entertain, to teach, to connect. One of my favorite storytellers was my grandfather. His stories normally did all three. Every time I find a dime, I think of one of his stories.

He tells a story of growing up, and every town seemed to have "their bum." You know, someone who drinks Night Train, Thunderbird, or MD 20/20; the fortified wine of your choice. Anyway, my grandfather would say that people would play a game with the man.

Then my grandfather would extract a nickel and dime from his pocket. He would place them side-by-side, and ask, "Which coin, given the choice, would you take?"

And of course, I would choose the dime. My grandfather would laugh, and say, "Yeah, little girl, the dime is worth more than the nickel."

And he would say that the bum always chose the nickel.

Almost rehearsed, I would then say something like, "That's why he is a bum, right? He does not know the value of a dime."

My grandfather would give me the dime, then explain to me that if he chose the dime, no one would want to play the game with him. So he would have earned ten cents. But because the town bum chose the nickel, he had others offer to play the game.

Sometimes, he would sum up, it pays to make a decision that would strengthen the relationship, and in this case, the bums relationship to the town. From that story, I learned that sometimes, you don't necessarily try to obtain the best deal each and every time. Sometimes it pays to form a relationship.

Thanks, Granddad, you wise man, you. I miss you more than you would have guessed.


RWA said...

An interesting story...and a valuable lesson.

I remember my grandfather was a great storyteller too - and maybe it's a Southern thing (he only lived about five miles from the Georgia state line).

Ian Lidster said...

He was a very wise man. I had never thought of it in that way. Grandfathers rock; both of mine did.
As for wino potables, the favorite in our town was a thing called 'Logana' which was a horrible fortified loganberry wine. Of course, we also drank the same crap when I was in HS -- and got very sick on it. Your reference to Thunderbird reminded me that there was once a song called 'Thunderbird' and it was all about the stuff.

Leesa said...

rwa: thanks, sweetie. I am not sure it is only southern, but southern story-tellers rock.

ian: Southern Comfort was the drink of choice for me when I was younger.