The iced coffee I like best near campus, or anywhere for that matter, used to cost $2.25. Then it went up to $2.26, which was a convenient way to get rid of pennies, or an annoying way to acquire pennies, depending. (The place accepts credit cards even for tiny amounts, which indeed presents a way out of the dilemma I'm about to describe.) Then, all of a sudden, perhaps having noticed that their iced coffee was kind of a bargain compared to everything else they sell, up it leaped to $2.49.
This, I immediately decided, was not a fluke derived from the price-plus-tax, but rather a calculated attempt by the establishment in question to collect mini-tips from customers who otherwise wouldn't tip, or (as is my case) only tip at to-go establishments when ordering something more complicated than coffee poured into a cup. Who would be so crass - or put so little value on their time - as to wait for that penny? Unlike $2.99, $2.49 means you've probably already put in the time to find 50 cents in change, at which point you've already been holding up the line, wasting your time and that of the cashier, for ages.
My time might be 'worth' more than that of the average humanities grad student, thanks to NYU's new funding arrangements, but it's still not worth a whole heck of a lot, so my usual method is to pay with two dollar bills and two quarters, receive the penny, and dream of the day when I'll have accumulated four pennies in time to pay with two bills, a quarter, two dimes, and... you see where I'm going with this. So it was oh just a little bit awkward when, recently, the woman ringing me up asked, "Do you want your penny?" Because, um, I did want my penny, because pennies are currency, not everywhere takes credit cards, and some items do not cost something that's a multiple of 5. And because when I tip (again, fancy-espresso-drinks, along with, obvs, restaurants and bars), I tip more than a penny. So I said yes, that I did want the penny, in a polite yet confident tone. Nevertheless, I may never be able to show my face in that coffee shop again.