Bad $20

I once tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. Actually, twice.

The first was when I paid for a lunch at Barney Greengrass in New York, about two years ago. After exposing the $20 to a gizmo at the cash register, the cashier handed it back to me, saying it was counterfeit. Surprised—I had no idea there were counterfeit $20s in circulation at all—I asked how he could tell. He pointed at the gizmo and explained how it worked. I said “Okay,” gave him a different $20, got my change and walked out, intending later to compare the fake 20 with a real one.

The second was when I paid for something with the bad $20 at some other establishment, not meaning to. I just forgot I still had it in my wallet.

In respect to the current meltdown in this country—one that started, reportedly, when George Floyd attempted to pay for something with a bad $20 bill, two facts ricochet around in my mind. One is that the cashier at Barney Greengrass didn’t call the cops on me. Nor was I killed. The other is that I surely got my bad $20 where everybody gets all their $20s: from a cash machine. And that there must be a lot of counterfeit $20s floating about in the world.

Beyond that I have nothing to add. What’s happening in the U.S. today says more than enough.


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