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Erlkönig: Taco Hell and the Bill

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by Peter Leppik

The following is a *true* story. It amused the hell out of me while it was happening. I hope it isn't one of those had to be there things.

On my way home from the second job I've taken for the extra holiday ca$h I need, I stopped at Taco Bell for a quick bite to eat. In my billfold is a $50 bill and a $2 bill. That is all of the cash I have on my person. I figure that with a $2 bill, I can get something to eat and not have to worry about people getting pissed at me.

ME: Hi, I'd like one seven layer burrito please, to go. IT: Is that it? ME: Yep. IT: That'll be $1.04, eat here? ME: No, it's *to* *go*. [I hate effort duplication.]

At his point I open my billfold and hand him the $2 bill. He looks at it kind of funny and says

IT: Uh, hang on a sec, I'll be right back.

He goes to talk to his manager, who is still within earshot. The following conversation occurs between the two of them.

IT: Hey, you ever see a $2 bill? MG: No. A what? IT: A $2 bill. This guy just gave it to me. MG: Ask for something else, THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A $2 BILL. IT: Yeah, thought so.

He comes back to me and says

IT: We don't take these. Do you have anything else? ME: Just this fifty. You don't take $2 bills? Why? IT: I don't know. ME: See here where it says legal tender? IT: Yeah. ME: So, shouldn't you take it? IT: Well, hang on a sec.

He goes back to his manager who is watching me like I'm going to shoplift, and

IT: He says I have to take it. MG: Doesn't he have anything else? IT: Yeah, a fifty. I'll get it and you can open the safe and get change. MG: I'M NOT OPENING THE SAFE WITH HIM IN HERE. [my emphasis] IT: What should I do? MG: Tell him to come back later when he has REAL money. IT: I can't tell him that, you tell him. MG: Just tell him. IT: No way, this is weird, I'm going in back.

The manager approaches me and says

MG: Sorry, we don't take big bills this time of night. [it was 8pm and this particular Taco Bell is in a well lighted indoor mall with 100 other stores.] ME: Well, here's a two. MG: We don't take *those* either. ME: Why the hell not? MG: I think you *know* why. ME: No really, tell me, why? MG: Please leave before I call mall security. ME: Excuse me? MG: Please leave before I call mall security. ME: What the hell for? MG: Please, sir. ME: Uh, go ahead, call them. MG: Would you please just leave? ME: No. MG: Fine, have it your way then. ME: No, that's Burger King, isn't it?

At this point he BACKS away from me and calls mall security on the phone around the corner. I have two people STARING at me from the dining area, and I begin laughing out loud, just for effect. A few minutes later this 45 year oldish guy comes in and says [at the other end of counter, in a whisper]

SG: Yeah, Mike, what's up? MG: This guy is trying to give me some [pause] funny money. SG: Really? What? MG: Get this, a *two* dollar bill. SG: Why would a guy fake a $2 bill? [incredulous] MG: I don't know? He's kinda weird. Says the only other thing he has is a fifty. SG: So, the fifty's fake? MG: NO, the $2 is. SG: Why would he fake a $2 bill? MG: I don't know. Can you talk to him, and get him out of here? SG: Yeah...

Security guard walks over to me and says

SG: Mike here tells me you have some fake bills you're trying to use. ME: Uh, no. SG: Lemme see 'em. ME: Why? SG: Do you want me to get the cops in here?

At this point I was ready to say, SURE, PLEASE, but I wanted to eat, so I said

ME: I'm just trying to buy a burrito and pay for it with this $2 bill.

I put the bill up near his face, and he flinches like I was taking a swing at him. He takes the bill, turns it over a few times in his hands, and says

SG: Mike, what's wrong with this bill? MG: It's fake. SG: It doesn't look fake to me. MG: But it's a **$2** bill. SG: Yeah? MG: Well, there's no such thing, is there?

The security guard and I both looked at him like he was an idiot, and it dawned on the guy that he had no clue.

My burrito was free and he threw in a small drink and those cinnamon things, too. Makes me want to get a whole stack of $2 bills just to see what happens when I try to buy stuff. If I got the right group of people, I could probably end up in jail. At least you get free food.

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