By Alan Sorensen
Young Matt and I were about to head out for a day on Showdown's slopes, but we needed cash. We pulled into an early morning grocer's and bought pastries, beverages and money.
After paying for our goodies, I turned to the clerk and asked if I could buy a dollar's worth of quarters. He looked at me kind of crossways and asked if I meant exchange, such as exchange currency for coin.
I looked back and said I was desperate for quarters to buy an unnamed paper and didn't know that quarters had gone up to three for a dollar. He asked if I thought anyone would be willing to pay the price. I didn't want to encourage his entrepreneurship, so I grabbed the quarters, bought a paper, and split.
I have been in numerous situations where I would gladly pay a dollar for three quarters. I've even been willing to buy two for a buck. I think it strikes us all when we're faced with a vending machine, poker machine, pool table, foosball table, pay telephones, coin-op laundries or any other machines that require quarters.
Actually, selling money has been around for nearly eternity. Weren't those moneylenders (cash clearinghouse representatives) Jesus kicked off the temple steps?
One of my coworkers was telling me the other day about his bank account. He has to leave a minimum of $300 in the savings account or the bank will take a monthly payment of $3. That's how inactive bank accounts become empty bank accounts.
I remember reading years ago something about a hefty bank account (in the millions of dollars) that had been inactive for several years. It eventually dwindled to nothing through inactivity fees instead of growing with the interest it should have been accruing. I seem to recall that someone got in a passel of trouble and laws were changed to prevent a repeat.
My idea of the easiest way to get rich a few years ago was to go into Canada with an empty semi and come back with a truckload of Canadian quarters. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any financial backing.
Money is money, right? Not. I remember being taught that there was a time early in the 1900s (I wanted to say this century,' but that would have been wrong, too) when tulip bulbs were a major global monetary standard. Unlike currency and coins, though, tulip bulbs are susceptible to drought, insects and poor genes. When the tulip bulb crop went bad, our world economy collapsed and we were thrust into the Great Depression. (My teacher suggested there might have been other contributing factors, too.)
It appears from information I just received about the upcoming Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, held annually in northwestern Washington, that Tulipomania was the term given to the tulip craze in the Netherlands from 1634 to 1637. It was a time when people invested large sums of money in the colorful bulbs much as they do now in the stock market. (It would seem my education concerning the Great Depression was erroneous.)
Maybe instead of a tulip or gold standard, we could go to a quarter standard. It's just as feasible as Evel Knievel's platform for president back in the '70s. His campaign for the highest office in the land hinged on a copper standard (something, it turns out, that his hometown of Butte didn't really need for revitalization).
You know, we talk a lot about how guns kill people. But I'd gladly argue that the No. 1 killer of men has little to do with bullets and a lot to do with money.
It wasn't long ago that I read somewhere about men dying in lines from stress. Want to kill your (father, son, husband, grandfather) and win your inheritance early? Send him to the grocery store with a long list.
The method is particularly successful at the end of the month when pay checks and food stamps add to traffic in the aisles and lines at the checkout stands. The likelihood of success could be further enhanced by providing him with a wheelbarrow full of quarters.