I handle a lot of money. Sadly 99.9999% of it isn’t mine. I rarely even pay attention to it anymore. Just make sure all the denominations are there and, at the end of the day, it’s all accounted for. I know people who handle money, mostly working in banks, who fetishize it. The smell and texture and the crispness of new bills.
Me? I just don’t want the suckers sticking together. I hate those suckers who stick together.
But I was counting money the other day something popped out at me. Most of the bills I handle are of the current designs. All their security measures in place, probably a thin coating of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer from all those paranoid fucks who think they’re going to catch a cold from it. While counting, my hands free of lotions, I notice two older bills. One was from 1999 and it has seen better days. Faded color from one too many passes through various washing machines. Rips and folds and general stains coming from who knows where.
But it was the other that caught my attention. Sure, it had some wear but nowhere near as much as the one from 1999. A couple of older folds that, over the decades, have become little more than light creases in the bill. No corner was badly dog-eared unlike his seventeen year old counterpart. It was more a marvel to me because this bill could apply for social security.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the bill in my hand was minted in 1950. And I’ve got to say, he’s looking better than many sixty-five year olds I know. It’s not as if it was a hundred or even a fifty. It was a workingman’s ten dollar bill. A bill that, when it was first issued, could have purchased a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, two one pound cans of pork & beans, two pounds of sirloin for the grill, a quart of mayonnaise, a pack of smokes each for him and his wife, ten gallons of gas, and ten postage stamps for his overseas pen pals. And still received almost $4 in change.
That bill was at the cusp of change. One war slowly getting behind. Many others on it’s horizon. A seismic change in not only music and fashion but of air and space travel. Just think what this bill has seen. Well, not seen as you have to assume he’s spent a good portion of his life in a dark, cramped wallet at the edge of some guys ass or in a clutch or a purse hidden as a woman’s ‘mad money’ when she went on a date.
Turning the bill over I can tell he was mostly folded face side out. The green pops like the first leaves of spring. It’s a green six or eight shades brighter than that of a current bill. I had to laugh while reading the front. Above where it says ten dollars on the bottom is the long exorcised statement: “Will Pay To The Bearer On Demand”. Damn! This bill is bad ass! You can almost imagine him grabbing some clerk by the lapel and screaming, “I don’t care if it’s banned in Boston, I demand a copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover!” And the clerk would fuck right off and get him one. And, again, render him some change.
Think of the various albums and eight tracks and cassettes and CDs he’s purchased. The mind swirls at the musical diversity. The movies he’s paid for. The times he was slapped down on a counter for a book.
Then there are the more mundane parts of money like like gas and phone bills. He’s been there for first dates and last dates; weddings and birthdays; funerals and bribes. He’s paid off lay-a-ways and loan sharks. He’s gone through the economic ups and downs of a dozen presidents. And he still looks crisp and ready to go through his next transaction.
So I’m going to take him out of the bank deposit and replace it with a new one. Who knows if some banker, with federal regulations bogging down the density between his ears, would pull it out of circulation. I’m doing it because this old boy still has some kick in him. So I’m going to take him out tonight and use him to buy my girl and me a drink. Keep him on the road a little longer. Let him show those new bills how to get things done.
Of course, I’ll have to toss in a few more dollars to pay the tab but, for this old gent, it ain’t a thing.