At the train station about a month ago when it was still cold, I saw this little old lady buying a ticket, and by that I mean she was exactly the image conjured when you hear the words "little old lady"—headscarf, old wool coat, thick beige nylons, white nondescript sneakers. She saw a couple pennies that had been dropped on the ground by the machines, and made a noise as if she had found someone's lost engagement ring. She approached a CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) employee, and tried turning them in to her. At first I didn't understand what her little-old-lady logic was. Did she think someone was going to come back to the Jarvis station and check the lost and found for the two pennies he or she had dropped? It can be confusing and slightly irritating when little old ladies do stuff like that. It's something my grandmother would have done, but she grew up in the Depression, so somehow that makes it understandable. Remembering that made me wonder what this little old lady's story was. Perhaps she had lived through some time in her life where every penny counted?
In any case, the CTA employee refused to take the pennies, explaining that they weren't allowed to take money from people. Little Old Lady's voice was too soft for me to tell if there was a language barrier, because she didn't seem to understand. She tried putting the pennies on the counter and the CTA employee got all snappish and said, "You can't do that! You can't put those there!" That was even more irritating. I wanted to get involved and say, "Come on! She's not giving you money, she's a little old lady trying to do the right thing by turning in dropped pennies. Do you think you're gonna get fired for taking them? Just take the fucking pennies and say thank you and throw them out afterwards if you want!" But I'm fairly certain that would have just pissed off both parties even more, so I just let it go and walked upstairs to catch the train.
Moral of the story: When a little old lady hands you something, just fucking take it.