Two dollars worth of arrogance

I purchased a smoothie from a street vendor near my office in NYC recently, as I often do. Strawberry, banana, pineapple, and blueberry. It was gonna be a good afternoon.

I handed over whatever ridiculous amount of capital it takes to purchase such a drink in New York, and the lady emerged after a moment with a wad of cash.

I was a bit irritated that she handed me a clump of bills in such disarray, but since you are required by law to be texting while walking anywhere, I had no choice but to stuff the bills in my pocket and deal with them later.

After all, I had a smoothie to drink.

That night, I unload the day’s detritus from my pockets and noticed that I had been given a $2 bill in the wad of cash I was handed. Imagine my delight! I hadn’t seen one in years, so I examined it closely.

Well. My delight quickly turned into anger, as I determined the bill to be an obvious counterfeit. It didn’t even feel like money! I spent the next day or so imagining sassy ways to return the bill to the lady, snarkily informing her of my findings. So that’s why she handed me the wad of cash like she did, I thought to myself. Hmph.

Above all, I was enraged at her audacity and short-sightedness. I had probably spent fifty dollars with her over the past few months and was becoming a regular. What does she gain by offloading a counterfeit bill to me? All bad.

I kept the bill without returning it (in part because I hadn’t decided on how to break the news to her, and in part because I wanted to write about it and possibly snap a decent pic once I had the proper lighting), and found myself thinking about it when grabbing dinner last week.

I pulled the bill from my wallet and asked the cashier if it was a counterfeit like I suspected. He informed me that it was actually authentic (and also imparted some knowledge that will be useful should I decide to enter into the money laundering business).

I was shocked. I had spent the last week railing on this woman in my mind, and ended up being completely wrong about my assumption. Humbling.


Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.