A single-handed effort to keep the memory of $2 bills alive

Raymond Chen

As I noted when I told the story of the computer programmer who dabbled in making change that my colleague had a lot of money-related quirks. For some reason my colleague felt the $2 bill deserved more attention. Every so often, he would go to the bank and buy $100 in $2 bills, then reintroduce the bills into circulation and enjoy people’s reactions to them. (Most cashiers looked at it and recognized that it was legal tender, but couldn’t find a good place to put it in the till. It usually got tossed under the drawer with all the checks.) It was a regular occurrence that the bank didn’t have that many $2 bills on hand, but they managed to find them and let him know when he could come pick them up. One time, the bank called him back. “Hi, we asked all our branches in the entire county, but all together we can’t find enough $2 bills. If you want, we can place an order with the Federal Reserve. The catch is, though, that the minimum order is $2000.” “Sure, go ahead and place the order.” Some time later, he went in to pick up his huge stack of $2 bills. My colleague now found himself in a situation where something fun turned into an ordeal, like a smoker who is forced to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes at one sitting. Or in this case, more like 1000 cigarettes. At the end of group meals at a restaurant, after everybody had calculated their share and put their money in the bill holder (this being the days when people actually paid cash for things), he would raid the bill holder for change, taking out all the notes greater than $2 and replacing them with the appropriate number of $2 bills. As a result, when the servers came to collect the bill holders, they found them stuffed with $1 and $2 bills (mostly $2). Too bad he didn’t make a pad out of them.

Bonus reading: $1 billion that nobody wants. Follow-up.


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