NFFHC is a part of W. Keith Zoroastrian Enterprises, an international media conglomerate consisting of hundreds of different publications spreading Truth throughout the world. From time to time we will reprint articles from our sister publications which our editorial staff have deemed particularly important or relevant to the modern world or of exceptionally high quality. What follows here was originally published as a letter to the editor in the Greensburg Observer, a news and opinion journal located in Greensburg, Indiana.
To the editor of the Greensburg Observer and other valued customers,
My name is Joel Hampton, President, CEO and sole shareholder of Joel, Inc., a Delaware corporation formed to participate in profitable business ventures that benefit one Joel Hampton. This letter is in response to some negative press my company received recently over its “take-a-penny-leave-a-penny” policy, and the exercise of said policy by its agents on multiple occasions at the 8th St 7/11 and the Nevada Ave Loaf and Jug. I’m writing primarily to educate the public regarding the duties and pressures someone in my position faces. I’d like to take the time to elaborate and hopefully raise some awareness and understanding.
When most people think of corporate CEOs they think of striped-suit fat cats being served caviar by busty, blonde secretaries while flying to exotic locales in the company jet. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Joel, Inc. doesn’t even own a company jet. Rather, being a CEO is about one thing: duty. Being a corporate executive carries with it an enormous amount of responsibility—responsibility to shareholders, responsibility to the board of directors, and responsibility to all the hardworking employees of the corporation who depend on its continued existence for their livelihood.
When you’re at the top you make a tempting target. People often criticize my actions without realizing the full extent of my duties. Sure, some people might find taking everything in the take-a-penny-leave-a-penny tray to be, as one gentleman described it, “a dick move.” This is understandable. In fact, in this man’s position, with his limited life experiences, I might have thought the same thing. But what these people often fail to understand is that I have a duty to my investors to maximize shareholder value by exercising Joel, Inc.’s economic rights to their fullest extent—within legal limits, course—and while it may be looked down upon, there is nothing within the law that explicitly forbids taking as many pennies as one wishes from the take-a-penny-leave-a-penny tray. Therefore, I should—nay, must!—take all the pennies and deposit them into the treasury of Joel, Inc. I daresay it would be management malpractice for me to do anything else.
Now, I can already hear some of you murmuring to yourselves as you read this: “Well, Joel, that’s all well and good, but what makes you so sure this is ‘legal’ behavior?” Yes, yes, I’ve heard it before. Several times, particularly at the Nevada Ave Loaf ‘n’ Jug last Wednesday morning, people have stated their misguided belief that the “a” in “take-a-penny” implies that only one penny may be taken. This overly literal, legalistic interpretation is incorrect for several reasons. First, even if only one penny may be taken, it is clear that this applies only to the instant transaction. When I, as an authorized agent of Joel, Inc., dump $0.42 into my wallet, this need not be interpreted as a single transaction, but rather as 42 separate and distinct transactions in which I am taking a single penny. I mean, for God’s sake, if I were to take-a-penny, go to my car, decide I want another Five Hour Energy, and come back in to buy it, nobody would have a problem with me taking another penny, would they? How is doing this 42 times without the pointless trips to my car any different?
Second, I want to stress that these trays are also “leave-a-penny.” I have yet to see someone reprimanded for leaving multiple pennies, and of course I never will because it just doesn’t happen. You can’t have it both ways! If people may leave a dozen pennies they may also take a dozen. Furthermore, the name of the tray only addresses pennies, despite the fact that such trays typically contain nickels, dimes and sometimes even quarters. If anyone can “take-a-quarter-leave-a-quarter,” why can’t Joel, Inc. take 25 pennies?
Now, given the inherent ambiguities of the take-a-penny tray, some might point to the intent of the employee who drafted the tray’s sign. The problem with this argument is these trays are often years old and the employees who constructed them long gone, making it impractical to divine the original intent of these quasi-legislators. I mean, who’s to say what Sally Cashier from 2007 was thinking when she wrote those immortal words? Most likely, she was just copying the language she had seen on other take-a-penny-leave-a-penny trays during the course of her career. If that’s the case, it would be impossible to determine the intent of the original writer of such a sign, who in all probability has been dead for 100 years. Thus, it is Joel, Inc.’s position that interpretation must be construed against the drafters, i.e. the 8th St 7/11 and the Nevada Ave Loaf ‘n’ Jug. Therefore, the take-a-penny statement in question must interpreted to mean “take as much money as needed to suit your purposes,” and for the purposes of Joel, Inc. every penny must be taken.
In closing, let me just say one thing: I understand your concern. Amply stocked take-a-penny-leave-a-penny trays are vital to the functioning of convenience store cash exchange systems and the smooth exchange of goods and services within our great capitalist economy. But this public interest must be balanced against competing interests in order to ensure the existence of a fair and equitable system in which we can all thrive. The recognition and consideration of these interests is something I’ve always admired and part of what makes America great.
Joel Hampton III
President and Chief-Executive-Officer of Joel, Inc.™, a subsidiary of JHamp Enterprises™