Diary of a Dollar by Caroline Roy

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Dear diary....

Humans! Seriously. Humans! How can they be so smart and so dumb at the same time? I’ll never understand what’s going on in people’s minds, but I sure can tell you a thing or two about how they handle their cash. You may think oh, sure, it is easy for a dollar to talk, as I just live in a wallet, a piggy bank, a cash register, a jeans pocket, a tip jar or wherever. All I need to do is be there. And, one may ask, isn’t the really tough job earning money?

There’s some truth to all that. As a one-dollar bill, I never have to make a single decision about money. I am money. I cannot do anything about my existence other than experience what people do with me. Oh, but: earning money is the toughest job? I would challenge that. What I’ve seen in my 21 years of life is this: keeping money is much harder than earning it. Especially keeping what you earn, and expanding wealth enough to achieve personal freedom, is a very different skill from earning money.

Where was I? Oh, humans. I almost drowned this morning after I was handed over together with some gum and a New York Times, in exchange for a ten-dollar-note. Not the most exciting start to a day, I agree. In general, one-dollar-bills are a bunch of wild kids. Singles get around. Just because one dollar doesn’t buy you a lot these days doesn’t mean we cannot make a difference. I’ve met singles that brought more joy to a person’s life than a huge fortune would. I know that sounds like a cliche. But if anyone can tell, it’s me

My new owner is in a hurry, heading towards his office. These days, many people in the streets tend to carry big cups of coffee covered with a plastic lid. My guy does not. He pushes through the crowds, past stores and people, and then, one block down the street, he is headed towards this older guy in a coat holding a cup with no lid. He is leaning against the window of a book store, shivering a bit in the cool morning air. In passing by, my guy drops me into the man’s open cup. Suddenly I float in a half empty coffee cup. That man staring at me from the top, looks up, sprints after my guy and throws his half empty drink – including me! – after him, shouting: What the f*** is wrong with you, asshole? My guy looks up, understands his mistake, and before he can apologize, sees the coffee stains on his jacket and starts shouting back: Oh my God! You’ll pay for the cleaners! The stranger shouts: You must be kidding! You started it! AND you owe me a coffee! So it goes, back and forth, whilst I’m being picked up, wiped clean on the jacket sleeve and slipped into his pocket. I wonder whether I’ll end up at the dry cleaner. It wouldn’t be the first time. At the end, they must have come to an agreement that involved more than one dollar, because I am still in that jacket. But I want to change hands as soon as possible

In the guy’s office, the jacket is being touched up with a damp cloth. Things look up when we go to lunch a few hours later. My chance to get out! It’s a sit-down diner type lunch with three colleagues and Dave, the friendly waiter, who goes out of his way to refill water and coffee. I hear talk of inflation amongst the colleagues: “I’ve given myself 6 months, that’s how long I can afford to live here. If I’m not making more by then, I’m out.” What happens shortly after that is a showdown of manners. The group ask for the check: $76.  They divide by four, shoving cash back and forth. They dig for tips. In the end, it’s me and three other singles on a plate next to a credit card. The four guests are getting ready to leave. Before my guy has reached the door, Dave catches up with him, hands him the four single dollar bills, us, and says: “Obviously, you need these more than I do.” My guy is speechless. If you ask me: Dave should have been speechless. That tip was an insult. Meanwhile, one woman of the group sneaked back and left 15 dollars on the table for Dave. Now, I guess, four people feel embarrassed for the price of $15. Was that worth it? What’s even worse: I am still with this guy! I’m beginning to get worried about his next move. At least, now there are four of us in his pocket, and that is comforting.

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