From the security guard checking photo IDs outside the building, to the FOUR security guards manning the metal detector, the the marble floors and wood carvings, the entire building reeked of governemnt.
Thus began my tour of the US Mint, in Philadelphia PA. After a long treck through the visitors gallery, which had enough wasted coins in it to make my inner tight-wad want to scream, we arrived at the huge glass windows overlooking the coin production.
Wait, did I say coin production? Scratch that, the windows were overlooking...nothing. Plain and simple- nothing. All of the machines were still. There were no employees on the floor. There were no coins visible whatsoever. As we stood there, we were wondering why production was non-existant at three pm. "Perhaps it's their lunch break." My mother looked unconvinced, so I went on. "Listen, the walmart pain mixer guy was once on lunch break at 9 pm, so this is early." She didn't think that made sense either, so I figured it out. "Mommy, it's a recession! They cancelled coin production due to lack of demand! Nobody had any money so they don't bother minting it!"
The old couple nearby looked over, trying to figure out if I was serious or not. I managed to keep my face straight until they turned the corner. That's when my brother pointed out a metal grating, which seemed to have hundreds of stray coins in it. "Look at all the coins that feel through there!" I quickly corrected him. "No, the coins didn't fall through! Water is bad for the copper, they can't have a wishing fountain in the mint, so instead that's where the employees throw their pennies when they want to make a wish."
It was around then that my mother suddenly lost interest in reading all the signs, and she hustled us down to the lower level, where my brother photographed my finger touching the "do not touch" sign. Obviously, no photography is allowed in the building, so we killed two rules with one click. (Can I get arrested for writing about this on my blog?)
The most fun part of the mint was in the gift shop. My mother had to drag me out by my hair, as two employees tried unsuccessfully to keep straight faces when I asked if they give out free samples.
Here's something interesting though: someone overheard my recession theory on why coin production wasn't happening, and he told us that he had read an article about it and I am right. Apparently, people are desperate for money, and they are pulling out their coin jars and their penny collections, and so lots of old coins are back in circulation, lowering the need for new coins. Hey, I make a great tour guide!
The highlight of my day was, of course, on the way home. I was in the middle of merging onto the highway when I suddenly felt a huge load of pity for my friend BigChamor. Yep, you guessed it. My nose started pouring blood like a faucet. So if you were driving somewhere in Philadelphia yesterday, and you saw this girl swerving onto the highway, clutching a huge wad of tissues to her face, now you understand what happened.