Sunday, July 29, 2007

Found Funds

One of the volumes I picked up at the last book sale I went to was this one:
As you might expect, if you're familiar with Penn and Teller, this is an unusual book. I haven't had a chance to read all of it yet, but it comes with 3-D glasses and a warning label that you're supposed to read and then shred. It contains the key to making many of the tricks in this book work -- which they won't do if you just follow the instructions.
Even odder, if you flip through the pages from the front, all the pages look like some weird, red psychedelic mishmash, but they look normal if you flip the pages from the back. Not really sure what's up with that.
The book I bought had another added insert -- two of them, in fact. A twenty dollar bill and a five hundred dollar bill.
That's right, the book I bought for two dollars came with a 520 dollar rebate.
One problem -- well, two. First, it wasn't American money. It was Hong Kong money.

And second, I wasn't even 100 per cent sure it was real Hong Kong money. It might be part of a Penn and Teller cruel trick. But I'm going to the Heroes Convention in Charlotte the next day. Having an extra five hundred and twenty bucks to spend would really be nice. I could finally afford to get an Adam Hughes sketch!
So I head over to the only bank in Charleston that does foreign currency exchange. I don't want to have to try to find another parking space so I leave the Prius where it is and walk to the bank even though it's raining. When I get to the bank I have to wait in a long slow line. Which was bad because it gave me a chance to start worrying -- what if it is a Penn and Teller prank? Are they going to arrest me for trying to pass out phony foreign money?
When I finally get up to the teller, I explain that I found the money, I've never been to Hong Kong and despite the sweaty palms and the guilty look I am not a counterfeiter. She looks it up on her computer and tells me my five hundred and twenty bucks is worth 62 bucks American, and since I'm not a customer of their bank, there's a ten dollar service charge. Well, 52 dollars is not nearly as good as 520, but it's 52 more than I had, so I thank her, take the money and run -- it's really raining now and I was afraid my parking meter might have expired.
So, that's the way it stood. Except when I told my friends about it, they all laughed at me and said that teller knew by how apologetic I was that I had no idea how much it was worth. They painted a picture of the teller out of the town with her friends buying champagne for the house with my money cuz Hong Kong money is really worth triple what the American dollar is worth.
So I looked it up, and the teller was right, of course. One Hong Kong dollar is worth 0.12783 USD.
Not sure what I spent the 52 bucks on in Charlotte --- maybe a hot dog and Diet Pepsi at ye olde overpriced snack bar.
But one thing has changed -- politically -- for me. I used to be a one-issue voter and I was planning to vote for whatever candidate would get us out of that disaster in Iraq the quickest. But now I think I'll examine the candidates' stand on the shocking discrepancy in the exchange rate between us and our friends in Hong Kong.


mellocat said...

Ha, great story! I probably would have kept the bills because they were a curiosity (and pretty...US money is so dull). Well, maybe only the smaller bill.

Norrin2 said...

Well, they were pretty, but not pretty enough that I ever thought about keeping them. I did wonder about what kind of person uses a 50-dollar bill as a bokmark, though.