Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Study in Genetic Predisposition vs. Learned Behaviors

Over the past few months I have become painfully aware that I am responsible for creating a monster. I had suspected this for some time but last Saturday I could no longer ignore the problem.

After the final soccer game as I was driving Eris home she suddenly shouted "PENNY! PENNY" The next thing I know the passenger door was flung nearly off the hinges and she was bounding out into the middle lane of I-15 (okay, it was 7th Street, only two lanes) to retrieve the three copper coins that were shining up at her in the gutter. We both laughed at her finds and I gave her a pat on the back along with a "good job". It wasn't a mile later at the next stop sign when the door was flung open again and she jumped out, this time the bounty was one penny. She generously shared two of them with me.

Just two weeks ago I watched in disbelief as she shrieked and dived under a curtain at a large exposition to claim a coin, only to cry with disappointment when she found it was a Junior Mint.

coins with various levels of TRAXiness

The question: Is this a genetic aberration or simply learned behavior? At this time I am inclined to go with genetic aberration after carefully observing the following and determining the statistical relevance:

1) Eris has three children. Of those three children two of them are compulsive penny-picker-uppers. The other one hides when this behavior is exhibited.

2) Athena does not participate in the sport of coin hunting, although a few weeks ago I suspected she carried the gene when she bragged about a "find" in her parking lot at work. She has two teens who cringe and run the other way when I stop to pick up coinage.

3) My father would never drive past a tool or a golf ball in the road. I have my own toolbox made up of Dad's road treasures that is off-limits to Zeus .

4) Age and education seem to have no bearing on the ability/compulsion to engage in these behaviors. You are either born with the talent or you are not. And yes, it is a talent.

On the flip side of the coin, there is also a case for learned behavior. I have heard from many, including Stefanie, Muriel and others that their children have picked up this talent after spending time with me. Further evidence is the penny that the Princess, who is not yet two, picked up two weeks ago to give me (with her daddy's help).


One of Eris' favorite money spots is the TRAX line in SLC. Apparently people throw coins down into the tracks to see them flattened. Considering her genetic predisposition, what choice does Eris have but to jump right in and retrieve them? I just hope that she doesn't become TRAXified like the coins she picks up.

$.11 (will it ever stop snowing?)

To bleason, my fellow numismatizer in New Orleans, a note concerning the verbiage of numismatising: I believe it was FNKara who coined the wonderful word coinage. Eris gets the credit for TRAXiness. Isn't in fascinating to see a new language develop?

1 comment:

Eris said...

Pickins have been slim lately. The economy has people picking up their change - jerks.

Oh, and one of those coins was "FrontRunner-ified" - it's the flattest one.