Friday, August 03, 2007

Filthy Lucre

The public library has planted Black-Eyed Susans, three large gardens of them, in front of the building. They spoke to me, even though I don't have brown eyes or yellow hair. I like the idea that this flower has my name. There are far more beautiful flowers, but I am loyal to this one that made me feel special when I was a child.

I picked one, but wasn't carrying a bag so I pushed it up the sleeve of my sweater, stem first with the flower dangling in my palm, itching.

"I'll probably get a rash," I complained.

Flip said, "Well, if you're going to embrace a life of crime..."

He said this without missing a beat as he bounced his yellow tennis ball along the sidewalk. I suggested he carry it in his mouth, like a Labrador. Walks with him are beginning to feel like outings with a very tall four-year old.

I have always wondered what I would do if I saw money in the street, but it was coated in excrement. It's this kind of idle thought that has inspired Flip to remark that my brain just doesn't work like other people's. There is superstition involved. I believe that if I do not pick up money, the gods will decide that I don't really need any, and I will not have enough to survive. This does not apply to pennies or other coins, but I usually make an exception for quarters. I like quarters. They feed parking meters and all sorts of other machines. Quarters are useful.

A few months ago, while walking with my daughter in the rain, I saw a dollar bill lying on the sidewalk.

"Oh, a dollar," I said as I scooped it up.

My daughter replied, 'I saw it, too, but it's wet. I thought I'd leave it for someone who needs it more."

"And that person just found it," I said.

Today, someone had placed a bill right on the doorstep of this building. It was covered in poop. I didn't even want to pick it up to redirect it to the street, or the garbage. Flip got his camera and took a picture of it.

So now I have my answer. I will pick up wet bills, but not befouled ones. Of course, that only goes for ones, fives, tens and probably, twenties. I'm not sure what I would do if I saw a hundred lying there, or a thousand. I might pour a kettle of scalding water over it and pick it up with rubber gloves, disinfect it and then deposit it in my bank account. Probably not, though, because it wouldn't be fair to the bank teller. So I might just ignore it. I think it would depend on my mood, my finances at the moment, my germ phobia health consciousness, and how large a denomination the bill was. When I checked later, the bill was gone. Somebody needed it more than I did. I feel really bad for that person.


Ian Lidster said...

Oh, if it had been a hundred, I would have gone for it, poop and all. How the poop got there I don't want to speculate on, OK? Otherwise, I always get torn on situational ethics questions. But, I can honestly say that if I found a wallet, no matter how much was in it, I'd return it. There, now I feel uncompromised.
So, to you, black-eyed Susan, or brown-eyed girl a la Van Morrison, have a lovely weekend. So nice to read you again. But, it always is.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It wasn't a moral quandary - I always return wallets when I find them, while anonymous money in the street is fair game unless you saw someone drop it.

I don't know how the bill in question got be-shitted, but it lost all appeal for me.

"Brown-eyed Girl" is one of my favorite songs. Morrison rocks.

meno said...

Think how rich someone had to be to use dollar bills instead of TP.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


And then to drop one on our doorstep. It was probably my new neighbor of the used Pamper.

thailandchani said...

yikes! That's wild! Why in the world would someone leave a bill at the door step with poop on it?

What? They couldn't wipe with an old newspaper?

Eeeeeewwwwwww! :)




eastcoastdweller said...

Heart: It was obviously a deliberate social experiment, a little nastier than the old glue-a-quarter-to-the-ground game.

Now I know Your name -- Susan. One of my favorites.

urban-urchin said...

that's really disgusting. people are so gross sometimes.

Molly said...

Maybe someone was doing research on what degree of hesitation the poop on the bill caused in potential money-picker-uppers? Are you sure they weren't hiding in some nearby bushes recording your reactions?? Soon to be published in some psychology journal. Watch your local news stand.....

yinyang said...

I don't think I would be able to study the bill long enough to determine the dollar amount. Or, if I did, it wouldn't matter - no way I would touch that with a ten-foot pole!


The Moon Topples said...

psst! I have given you a small award over at my blog, if you care to come and see.

Liz said...

I always pick up money as well, even the pennies, but I think you're right to not pick up that particular dollar bill. I'd like to think that it just blew away on its own, hopefully to land in a shower or a bidet. On the other hand, maybe your poopy diaper neighbor picked it up with bare hands. After all, we know said neighbor does do disgusting things!

Open Grove Claudia said...

HEY! I missed you this week! Welcome back!

Oh, money. I have similar superstitions - but mine revolve around who is the owner of the money. I will look for the person the money belonged to before me. I always correct the check, remind the teller that I need to pay for the (fill in the blank), etc. I can't come up with any rational - it's the way I'm made.

Welcome back!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Not literate enough to use a newspaper, probably.


I wondered, too, if it was an experiment. I didn't see anyone hiding and watching, though.


Oh, yeah. Definitely.


Well, now I don't know if I passed or failed.


I'm with you. It did produce a most unpleasant gastric reaction.


Oh, goodie. I love presents.


I'm going with the poopy diaper neighbor theory, but I love the idea that it might have blown into a bidet somewhere.

(The first time I saw one, in Paris, I thought it was a foot bath. I was very young.)


Of course if I know whose money it is, I return it. That's a given.

But this was obviously planted on our doorstep, and I wonder why.

Thanks for the nice welcome. I missed you, too.

Anonymous said...

It was probably a very wealthy penny pincher who picked it up. Case in point.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Now I know why they call it "filthy rich."

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you do it. Your stories are true but read like the best damned fiction. So perfectly formed.

I laugh (sometimes out loud). I am enthralled, wondering what will happen next. And I pause, I think, I wonder.

Whoever wiped with it. . . well, I am just glad they didn't have any change to use instead.

CS said...

Oh, I didn't realize your name was Black-Eyed. Nice.

I'd pick up a wet dollar for sure, and I always pick up silver change and any heads-up pennies (I flip the tails up ones for the next person to find). And I've wonderd the same thing about how dirty would it have to be for me not to pick it up. Until I was at an outdoor concert this summer and there was about a dollar in change on the floor of the porta-potty. I didn't touch it.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I'm trying to picture that.

Still trying.


Sorry, I was short-changed.


My parents were imaginative.

The first time I saw a porta-potty, at the MN State Fair, I thought the white thing in the urinal was soap. It took about a year of sanitizing my hands before I believed they were clean again.

liv said...

who poops on money? honestly. and leaves it on a doorstep? weirdo.

and how did you even come up with the notion of shit covered currency?

great post...I think you might have manifested your own destiny on this one!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I have no idea who does this. Or why. It's quite beyond me.

As is any logical explanation of how I came up with the idea of shitty money. A wiring problem, probably.

But please tell me what you meant about manifesting my own destiny.

velvet said...

Hey, if bills can survive a spin through the wash, they can survive an alcohol bath. This whole conundrum reminds me of the movie "The Magic Christian", the premise being that everyone has a price.

Oh, and Black-Eyed Susans are awesome! My garden is absolutely full of them. I'd let you cut a whole bouquet of them. :)

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Oh, thank you for the virtual flowers! They grew next to the creek on our property in TN, too. I hadn't planted them; they just showed up, like the universe smiling on me.

They say everyone has a price. I'm not sure what mine is, though. I think it's kind of a sliding scale, depending... You'd think ones moral boundaries would be a bit more firm, wouldn't you?

Crankster said...

So you launder money?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Not so far. I could probably make the right connection for enough of it, though.