Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Much Ado about NOTHING

Free Money

I looked down and there it was: a small, folded piece of green and gray paper on the sidewalk, with the number 20 printed on one corner. The Victorian font made it look like a twenty-dollar bill, but I doubted it. Probably a coupon or an advertisement for some 900-number phone-sex scam, I thought, picking it up (just in case). I unfolded it, and there he was: Andrew Jackson with his shock of wind-swept hair, looking more like a mad scientist than a 19th-century president. A real twenty -- or was it? I held it up to the sun, half expecting it to be counterfeit. The ghostly little hologram of Jackson's face appeared. Genuine. What luck! Right away, as I stuffed it into my pocket, I began to feel guilty. Who had dropped it? Probably some cash-strapped single mom with a squalling baby to feed. I thought about spending it, saving it, donating it to charity, or even dropping it. Surely someone more deserving than middle-class me would find it, someone who regularly stooped to pick up all the lost pennies I was too lazy to retrieve from the sidewalk. Before I could decide, I arrived back home from my walk. Ambivalence, my old enemy, had triumphed again. Only this time I was $20 richer in defeat. For now, the improbable bill resides in my wallet, in my back pocket. I'm sitting on it, warming it, thinking about it, but I'll probably forget about it sooner or later. And it will disappear, like all the others, into some merchant's cash register. Easy go.

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