I don’t know where it started. Was it my grandmother? Her mother? A paternal influence of some kind? Regardless, my family has continued the tradition of stuffing birthday cards with dollar bills that equate to the recipient’s age. It’s one tradition that gets better as you grow older, yet it recently put me in an awkward position with a cashier.
Although my parents are no longer here, my sister and brother can be counted on to send my son cash in his birthday cards. Sometimes they can also be seen in Christmas cards, Easter cards, end-of-school care packages, and random letters. My son has a piggy bank, so this money gets stuffed in there until he finds something he wants to spend the money on.
Mr. Carter loves gaming, so usually he wants to spend his stash on new skins or mods for video games. These online purchases are made on my credit card. To show him that it was he who spent the money, I will physically take the dollars out of his piggy bank and place them in my wallet. That way he can see the money in his personal ceramic storage bin has decreased. It’s been a good system, yet over time the amount of dollars transferred into my wallet has grown to the point that I need to do something with it.
I grabbed a wad to place in a secret spot in the car; that way, if I valeted or ate out, I would have the money and spare my card from its constant usage. One busy day, I drove into a shopping center on the way home to grab my dinner and stuffed my pocket with the booty before heading into the sandwich shop. I waited in line with everyone else, building my sandwich along the way and conversing with the sandwich maker as usual, until it was time to check out. When she announced the total, I grabbed my money as I counted out the necessary payment.
That’s when I realized the bulk was all $1 bills. The staff behind the counter looked at it, then up at me suspiciously. I caught their eye and realized what they thought.
“It’s not what it looks like,” I started awkwardly, “I don’t dance for a living.”
I laughed at my funny comment, but both people behind the counter waved me off as if to say no judgment here. I expected them to at least halfway laugh with me at the ridiculous notion, and began to joke how flattered I am they even thought this middle-aged customer could be a dancer, but dropped the subject and quickly left with my food.
In this modern age of direct deposits and digital transfers, I can’t tell you the last time I physically walked into a bank to make any transaction. However, I realize that as these small-billed monetary gifts shower my young son throughout his remaining elementary years, it’s worth the effort to physically deposit them into my account and hide my employment behind a piece of plastic.