Oily Pennies in the Driveway 

How do you de-oil pennies?

When I was in eighth grade, our class “hosted” the school dances attended by all the middle schoolers. We collected the ticket fees, using them to fund a class trip at the end of the year. However, at some point, a petty tyrant grew concerned that each eighth grade student ought to contribute an equal amount toward that trip. They thus decreed that even if an eighth grader did not attend a dance, they still had to pay the $4 entry fee.

When a friend and I skipped a dance (to see the movie “Mars Attacks!”, if I’m not mistaken), we were thus ordered to pay $4 each after the fact. Being made to purchase a ticket for a dance we didn’t go to sat poorly with us. We decided to gather up 400 pennies each and dump them on the teacher in charge of all this. Sure, it was juvenile, but we had a good excuse: we were 14.

If you’re an adult business owner who employs others, this sort of thing is much more difficult to justify. And yet, one Miles Walker of Georgia decided to use 91,500 pennies to settle a debt he owed to a former employee. To top it off, Walker apparently oiled the pennies. That is low.

Update (April 2, 2021): In a staggeringly obvious PR move, Coinstar agreed to help the recipient of those oily pennies. They gave him the cash, and also made a matching donation to two Atlanta-area charities. In so doing, they earned this small bit of free advertising.

Update (November 13, 2023): Over two years after these events came to internet prominence, Miles Walker was the loser in a case brought by the US Department of Labor.

A consent judgment against Miles Walker and A OK Luxury Autoworks ordered the company to pay former employee Andreas Flaten and several other employees $19,967.09 in back wages as well as the same amount in “liquidated damages.” The total sum is $39,934.18.