It’s All About the Benjamins

I went to an arcade in Lake Tahoe with my son Tom.  I only wanted to get five dollars in tokens, so I went to the front counter to get change for a twenty.

“Could I get a ten and two fives?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said.

Then she paused.  And held the twenty up to the light.

I know.  It’s part of her job.  But I had to wonder:

Would she have done this to the Pope?

So I opened my mouth.

“Do you have to do that?”

“Yep,” she answered in an annoyed tone, “Have to make sure it’s real.”

So she gave me the two fives and the ten.

Then I paused.

And held the ten up to the light.

She glared.

I smiled.  “Just have to make sure it’s real.”

40 thoughts on “It’s All About the Benjamins

  1. That happened to me at a fast food place recently. To make matters worse, it was late at night, in a not-so-great part of the city, and I was paying with a $100 bill, not a $20.

    Forget “would you like fries with that?” Try “would you like to be mugged in the parking lot in seven minutes?”

  2. Oh my god, that’s great!!! I have never thought of doing that back to them. *making mental note*

    Thank you, Professor Pastis! 🙂

  3. Ironically, it was at an arcade in Vegas where a guy got busted after circulating his counterfeited money throughout the town….the 17 year old clerk was tearing off ends of 20’s and noticed the ink didn’t penetrate the entire bill.

    Now every arcade clerk in America wants to be the next Hero.

    So Pastis, you are a victim of some dipstick counterfeiter’s past sins.

    I can see a strip where Rat starts checking everyone’s bills, and then confiscates them as a rogue member of the US Treasure’s anti-counterfeit squad, becoming the next Madoff in the process.

  4. This one lady did that to me when i got a water from a gas station. I handed her two bucks when the water cost like 1.49 or something and she checked to see if they were real. Then she gave me like .10 cents for change trying to rip me off. I went back the next day handed a ten and asked her for 2 $1’s, 1 $5, 8 quarters, 4 dimes, and 50 penny’s. The look on her face was hilarious. She asked me to repeat that and i said no. So she stood there for like 5 minutes thinking and typing the keys on the register. It was so worth it…

  5. Good, fast thinking.
    Fraud detection by arcade employees??
    Aren’t these the same folks who’ll let an 8-year-old spend ten or twenty bucks of dad’s hard earned income playing Skee-ball and then offer him a 49 cent kazoo in trade for the tickets won? That’s like being checked for Alopecia areata by Ron Howard.

  6. i work at a gas station. we have to check $50s and $100s but thankfully not $20s.

  7. Same thing happened to me not to long ago when I was in Panera Bread. I was late, pissed off, and VERY f***ing hungry. And, of course, all I had was a benjamin, and the stupid dumbass behind the counter took a FULL THREE MINUTES to look at it. Then, he went to get his manager to come look at it.
    Finally, I burst out:
    It’s real, ok? Now can I have my goddamn coffe?

    They glare at me when I go in now. I should have inspected the change they gave me back and held up the entire line.

  8. i love it when they write on the bills with a “special pen” that supposedly tells them if the bill is real or not. those pens are a scam.

  9. I work at a credit union, and we check our bills that we take in because people like to wash $5 bills and print hundreds on them. You don’t check for the “feel”, you hold it up to the light to check the watermark (real 100s say “USA 100” on a strip running through them and the fake ones say “USA FIVE”). You should check your bills you get back too, in case the clerk didn’t and is giving you a fake one someone passed off. And the pens usually work, just not in this situation because by washing real bills, they are using actual treasury money.

  10. That reminds me of Rush Hour (the board game)!!!!!!! Totally awesome!!!!!!!! Finally, a way to avoid traffic jams AND stupid people!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Sorry !!!!!!!! LOL!!!!!!!!! That last comment was supposed to be linked to “I have the cure for traffic” !!!!!!!!!

  12. Admittedly, if I worked at an arcade in Tahoe, and someone claiming to be the Pope came up to me, I would extremely suspicious.

  13. It’s either class envy or poor math skills that make cashiers hate Benjamins. I know, because I have both.

  14. The thing that bothers me – maybe you don’t have them in the States – are these infrared counterfeit detectors. They are pretty much standard issue here in Canada and when you pass anything larger than a five, they stick your money into the little “alcove” to see if it glows or not.

    I remember a time when questioning the legality of someone’s money was grounds for getting a bloody nose.

    Those days are sadly gone.

  15. Great come back. I’m going to do that at Walmart this morning! I love it when they just stare at you after the bill passes their stupid test…morons.

  16. When I was bartending, a regular customer pulled a $50 out of his wallet to pay for a round of drinks-before walking away to the register, the bill felt odd, so I looked at it close-it was a $5 that had been bleached and then had a $50 printed on it.
    I showed it to the customer discretely; he took it back and gave me a real one, saying “I just got that from cashing my paycheck at the bank!”, and was he pissed.
    A couple nights later, he was back-I asked him what he did, and he told me he deposited it back into the bank and they took it…

  17. I’m gong with Bishop….ask some high school kid for change in odd ways…I’m going one step further. My credit union always asks “How would you like that?” Oh now I want my 100…one fifty, one twenty, 2 tens, one five, 2 ones, two quarters, eight dimes, 23 nickels and 55 pennies!

  18. oh gosh! i will do that to somebody in Trinidad! and when i do…i’ll report back! haha weeeeeeee! *grabs purse..heads to the mall*

  19. Here in Australia, our notes are made of plastic with little clear windows in them, and each amount in different colours/designs too. Counterfeiting takes more than a photocopier and a stash of the right kind of paper. They’re damn difficult to count and/or fold; but at least they come out of the washing machine intact, instead of being a lump of paper in a pocket as the old paper notes did.

  20. Pastis, while I usually enjoy the stuff you do here, the snark on this is a bit off the mark (same goes for you, other commenters). I have a p-t retail job, and we check every bill that comes in with a pen. Yeah, it’s a pain, but we’ve been burned before. The implied argument “but *I* would never hand in a counterfeit bill” is ridiculous; it’s exactly what criminals say.

    If you want to come into our shop and dish some snark back, fine. We’d probably laugh. But sorry for trying to stop crimes. And anyone who reads this and thought it was “great,” maybe stop and either A) remember what it’s like to work retail or B) try doing it (or foodservice) for a little bit or C) at least think about what it might be like for a good long time. Try to imagine the crap we get, then multiply that by, oh, 100. Hopefully you’ll think twice before adding to that pile.

    Recommended related reading: DFW’s commencement speech to Kenyon College, May 2005
    http://web.archive.org/web/20080213082423/http://www.marginalia.org/dfw_kenyon_commencement.html

  21. I have a little UV light on my keychain, it’s great for checking the watermarks on money, I could have a lot of fun with that, bwahahahaha!

  22. Response to Todd:

    “Would she even know what a feel and fake 20 would look like?

    by Todd August 25, 2009 at 6:48 PM”

    The question really is would she know the difference between Andrew Jackson and Michael??
    Now that I think of it…they kinda look the same…

  23. I don’t know… this seems like a distant cousin of the following conversation:

    “I’m [so and so] and I’ll be your waiter.”

    “I’m [your name] and I’ll be your customer.”

    Do you really want to be that guy?

  24. Now that’s funny. Would be so easy for fake money to be pawned off on us in this manner while we maybe made to feel like potential criminals when we hand the money over. Good for you for returning the feeling.

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