Mar 132011

A few random thoughts and stories regarding the dollar bill.

It’s called a buck, a simolean, a greenback.  It doesn’t buy much these days and it is symbolic of a lot things economic and otherwise.   I bring this up as an intro to an incident that happened a few years ago.  It was the final straw that convinced me to get the hell out of the world of corporate slavery and get my own business going or I would be forced to start strangling the shit out of some people.

It happened one fine day as I was going about my duties at a parts counter.  I took the job against my better judgement.  The commute was way too long, I was burned out and bored with the industry.  But it was something I knew and could walk right in without any training and collect a reasonable paycheck.  Times were tough, money was in short supply and as we all are prone to do, I took the easy way and demeaned myself at yet another go nowhere faceless corporation.

The job was doing ok, I was getting caught up financially.  Other than the boredom and long commute it was bearable, until that fateful afternoon.  I was ringing up some hefty  sales and asked the office “girl”, (trust me I have other names for her), to replenish the register with some change and remove the excess cash.  She came out, started going through the drawer, then stopped and glared at me.  My back was turned at the time but I felt a disturbance in the force, like a million voices crying out, along with a distinct burning sensation.  So I turned around to face this person and asked what was wrong?  In a voice that would fit any exorcism movie she said:  ”You’re putting the dollar bills in the cash register UPSIDE DOWN!!!!!”.

Have you ever had one of those moments where time just seemed to stop?  You know, some bizarre event just happened that you know could not have but it did?  And now your whole brain has stopped to try to figure out what had just happened.  I stood there for a moment, or maybe an hour, I have no idea.  I’ve heard people say a lot of crazy shit in my time yet this caught me completely off guard.  So after processing this statement, I conjured up the most articulate and, what I felt at the time, most appropriate response I could think of, taking into account this persons obvious lack of a brain and intellect.  “Huh?”, I replied.

Apparently that was not the correct response because she repeated the inane statement again.  “YOU ARE PUTTING THE DOLLAR BILLS IN THE CASH REGISTER UPSIDE DOWN!”  This time I noticed an increase in the room temperature and what I swear was smoke coming from her ears and nostrils.  It appeared she was actually serious.  So naturally, being the bastard that I am, I took this as a signal to run with it and see if I can get her to, A: explode, B: pee herself, C: get my ass fired so I could beat the rush hour traffic home.  I pretty much figured by now that any company that was worried about something as trivial and stupid as upside down cash was not going to last much longer and sure as hell didn’t need my services.  So I ran with it.  Again, after careful consideration and thought I responded with yet another appropriate and articulate response, “Are you kidding me!?!”, I said with an effort at keeping a straight face.  Turns out she wasn’t kidding.  Quite the opposite in fact.  She proceeded to spend the next few minutes explaining how each bill MUST be placed with the FACE side up in the SAME direction NEATLY in each drawer.  All the while, more smoke was coming from various orifices about her body and I swear she was growing horns out of her head and fangs were protruding from her mouth.  The spittle that came out of her curled lips dripped on the floor and began burning holes in the carpet.  I’m guessing she had probably been toilet trained at gunpoint when she was a child.  Might explain a lot.  It was all I could do to not smile or smirk or laugh as I had just come up with another appropriate response to her rantings.  So as she wound down her last rant I steeled myself against the coming onslaught, looked her in the eye and said the one thing that I was sure would cause her to explode and create a huge black hole that would suck in this soulless job and all the degrading misery that went with it.  I said, “It doesn’t matter how the bills go in the drawer!”.  As I watched her eyes roll back into her head, much like a shark about to attack, and keeping a safe distance in case she pulled out a pitchfork and started stabbing me she went further into her bizarre little world with some long tirade about how money stacked wrong was the root of all evil, causing global warming, and was the reason she couldn’t find a date on Saturday night, all the while, wildly waving her arms in the air and stomping her cloven hooves on the floor.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy some of the shit life throws at you.  This was one of those times.  Worth every minute.  All you have to do is trivialize something that someone else believes has great importance.  Especially when you know it’s all bullshit.  Then watch the fun.

At this point she grabbed the wad of cash and headed back to her lair to begin the horrendous labor of straightening out the money.   Of course, knowing it would only make her life a little more miserable I threw one more dig at her as she slithered away, “I suppose you want all the quarters face up too.”.  To which she replied, without turning around, “No, that would be silly.”.

I went home that night and thought about the events that had transpired that fine day.  Here is a company that cares less about making money and more about how to stack it.  Go look at the two pictures again.  Is there any thing in those pictures that tells you that is not a dollar bill?  Anything?  No. It’s a dollar bill.  Unless perhaps you are looking at it from the edge, you know it is a dollar bill.  It doesn’t matter whether it is face up or not.  IT DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER!  I didn’t go back to work the next day.  Or the next.  By the third day, apparently someone noticed that I hadn’t been around and called wanting to know if I was coming in.  Never asked if I was ok or not.  I told them I was done and moved on.

Folks, there are two points to this story.  The first is if you are stuck somewhere in some soul sucking job with a company that worries if the dollar bills are correctly stacked, get out.  Get out now before it kills you.  I don’t care if the money is good or you get some promise of future benefits.  Get out.  Find yourself a little slice of paradise somewhere like I did and start your own gig.  Rent kayaks, pour drinks in a little bar, do something that you enjoy getting up and doing everyday.  Downsize or adjust your lifestyle so you don’t have to enslave yourself to this sort of thing.  It can be done if you put your mind to it.

The second is that it reeeeaallly is a whole lot of fun to torment the living shit out of someone who takes their job waaaay too seriously.  I suppose I should have thanked her for convincing me to get the hell out of there.
But people like her deserve to have their chains yanked.  I like to think that maybe somewhere, sometime, yet even today, she is home alone on a Saturday night, telling her cat the same story from her  point of view, calling me every name in the book, while she mindlessly stacks money in neat little piles, face up, in the same direction.

To this day, when I get a wad of cash, I make a point to stack it in as random and messy pile as I can.  Tellers, cashiers, they all hate me.  I don’t care.  Life is too valuable to worry how neatly the money is stacked.

Never Spend A Dollar Bill

A quick and easy guide to saving money the minimalist way.  Never spend a dollar bill.  Here is how it works.  Anytime you get a dollar bill, don’t spend it.  At the end of the day when you are emptying out your pockets or wallet or purse, take any dollar bills and put them in a box or jar, or whatever.  Never spend them on anything.  When you are out and about and say for example you want to get a drink at a convenience store or coffee shop.  All you have is a $20 and 4 $1 bills.  The drink costs $3.95.  Don’t use the singles, use the $20.  When you get change take the singles and put them with the rest.  And stick them with the other singles at the end of the day.  If all you have is singles, then you go without.  Or use a bank card, (remember, no credit cards).  Anytime you use cash and get singles back, save them, don’t spend them.  Be adamant about it.  The only time you can break the rule is to tip someone for service.  Beyond that, never spend a dollar bill.  At the end of the month or what ever timeline you want, go to that container you have been using and see what you have.  Chances are you have enough to go out to really nice dinner, buy a weeks worth of groceries, put a down payment on a tank of gas, anything.  I don’t use cash very often but I still do the dollar bill thing and at the end of the month I usually have around $30 to $50 extra.  You don’t have to do anything with it either.  Keep saving it.  You may save enough in a year for airfare, or a new computer.  Forget about loose change.  Quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies don’t mean anything.  And by the way, never take your loose change to one of those damn coin counter machines at the grocery store.  They charge 10% on your money.  10%.  It may not mean much on $10 but it’s still a dollar.  Go get some coin wrappers and deposit them in your bank or go to a retail operation on a Sunday.  By then they are usually out of change and most are happy to get some extra rolls of pennies.  And don’t spend the dollar bills.  Try it and see what happens.

That’s all for this week.  Here’s hoping all your dollar bills are in a messy pile.  Thanks for joining in.

The Fritter

Upside down dollar bills.  Give me a freaking break.