The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

THE TWO DOLLAR BILL

Yesterday was a very busy one – lots of errands to run and things to do.  I tried to get as many of these done as soon as Gracie and I returned from the dog park in the early morning, before the temperature rose to the near one hundred degrees that was predicted.  But some of them had to be finished in mid-afternoon – including a visit to the bank.

I was in a different part of town and, rather than go to my usual branch, I saw another one that was just a block from where I had other business to conduct so I went there instead.  I didn’t realize that this branch was “under siege” – in other words, it was in the process of being remodeled.

When I walked in I was immediately hit with the smell of plasterboard and paint.  Neither of these convey an aroma that I particularly enjoy.  But my transaction was simple and I didn’t expect to be there very long.  (I did feel sorry for the bank’s employees who had to deal with the smell for an eight hour day).

There were only two teller windows that were open but just one person ahead of me in line.  The customer at one window left almost immediately after I entered and the woman ahead of me went up to the available teller.  I was next.

I could see that the woman who had just moved to the teller’s cage had a number of transactions which seemed rather complicated and I would most likely be helped by the other teller.  I didn’t expect that I would have long to wait as the young woman and man who were at the window had begun their transaction before I entered the bank.  I was wrong.

As I was now in hearing distance, it became clear that the young woman was either the young man’s relative, friend or guardian.  Apparently, he suffered from a mental impairment as she and the teller both tried over and over to get him to endorse the check that he wanted to cash.  He didn’t seem to understand what he had to do and, with slurred speech, kept asking what they wanted of him.

When I realized that this young man had difficulty doing things that you and I take for granted, my rising impatience suddenly was quelled and I decided that it really didn’t matter if I had to spend an extra few minutes.  That was not the reaction from the queue of customers behind me which had grown to five people.  I could hear people behind me complaining about their wait.  Perhaps they didn’t realize that this young man had special challenges.

Finally the young man grasped the idea of endorsing his check and signed his name.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

The teller counted out his cash, two hundred forty-two dollars.  I was all set to go to the window when another fly entered the ointment.  The young man wanted a two dollar bill.  The teller didn’t have one in her cash drawer – neither did the other teller.

The young man, much to the embarrassment of his companion began stomping his feet and started shouting, “I want a two dollar bill.  I want a two dollar bill.”  By this time I think that everyone in the line realized the young man’s condition and the grousing about having to wait so long stopped.

Many, many years ago my parents gave me a wallet for my birthday.  Inside the wallet, dad had folded over what was then a brand new crisp two dollar bill.  Dad said, “Keep this in your wallet for luck.”

That wallet eventually wore out and was replaced by another and yet another and many more afterwards.  I always meticulously removed my dad’s two dollar bill and transferred it to the new wallets.  Suddenly, I realized that I had that two dollar bill in my wallet.  So I removed it, excused myself and went up to the teller’s window, holding it in my hand.

The teller handed me two singles and gave the young man my two dollar bill.  He was happy to receive it and he and his companion, who smiled a “thank you” at me, soon left the bank.  The teller thanked me for my help and I quickly completed my transaction and started for home.

On my drive I decided that I would replace the two dollar bill with the two singles I had received at the bank.  I’m not sure if two singles have the same magical lucky power as one two dollar bill.  We’ll just have to see.

But if dad were here, I’m sure he would have approved.  And I hope that two dollar bill brings that young man good luck.

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Comments on: "THE TWO DOLLAR BILL" (10)

  1. You, madame, are a treasure. Peace be with you.

  2. What a thoughtful thing to do! Good for you!

  3. You did a wonderful thing my dear’

    I wonder whether I would have parted with such a treasured memory of my Dad…then again, I probably would have, knowing it would have made him proud.

  4. Random acts of kindness are of benefit to the giver as well as the receivor.

    • I haven’t seen a two dollar bill in circulation for at least 20 years. What are the odds that I just happened to be at that branch (where I’ve never transacted business) at the exact moment in time when that young man wanted that bill. Perhaps it’s Karma at its finest.

  5. Your father, in his heavenly abode, is beaming. You did him proud. You did us proud. And, not for nothing, can you just imagine what your grandmother was feeling at that moment?

    I really, really like you for this! 🙂

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