Chapter One: Money In The Bank
Date: January 15th, 2007
“Look out below!” he yelled as he crashed to the ground.The clang heard in his arrival startled everyone in the group. The vocal one of the group didn’t hesitate to remark as he ran to the stranger, “Oh would you look at this everyone? Let’s see who just dropped in.” As soon as it was said a number of voices could be heard saying such as “Who is it?” and “Where are they from?” They quickly moved their attention towards the stranger who just arrived.
The vocal one who uttered the alarm was first to investigate the newbie. He examined the stranger thoroughly and said, “Look at that! Hey there, old timer, what brings you here? Do you realize that you have fallen into a much younger crowd here?”
But the elder stranger remained silent. And once again the youngin continued his questioning, “Are you that old you can not hear? Don’t you have anything to say?”
By now the entire group had gathered with eyes on the stranger and their ears all turned to the “conversation” taking place. The elder let out a sigh and broke his silence albeit in a sarcastic tone, “Yes, I hear you. And I am not oblivious to the obvious. I assume that most have that amazing ability to grasp the obvious, so what point was it for me to answer your inane questions?”
The youngster turned red and tried to reply only stumbling over his words and to be interrupted by laughter from his peers. The elder continued, “You see whippersnapper as soon as I arrived here I could no doubt see that all of you are most definitely of a shinier gleam than I. What am I doing here? Hmmmm…” He thought out loud. “I certainly can tell you where I have been. So how about you now, do you know what you are doing here?”
The youngster regained his composure and said, “I’ve been here as long as I can remember. It’s been a long time since I was dropped into this place. The same for most of those around us.”
“Oh I see” said the older fellow in a chuckle. “You know time is a funny thing. You say that as if it’s been a lifetime here for you, youngster. I can tell you are very green in the ways of the world.”
“Green?!” said a voice from the corner of the room, “There’s no paper in this place.”
The elder just laughed, “Of course not. Once again that whole obvious thing. Oh this is a green bunch indeed. I can see that the races here are silver and copper, no greenbacks at all. However, I was stating an expression. To be green means to be inexperienced to the world.”
“Are you saying you are better or wiser than us?” said the youngster.
“No not necessarily. All that I am saying is that I have been around on the outside.”
The youngster shot back, “You Jeffersons are all the same. You all think you’re so wise and important…regardless of age. There are a few young Jeffersons here that have the same traits as you, old timer.”
The elder grinned. “So it is true. We all have our flaws. As for you, I can see that you are a Washington. You all think you’re the sole leader, young or old. No matter the numbers involved that is how you all act…as I have observed.”
Everyone laughed. The elder stranger had the attention of all in the room and the young Washington had been put into his place. He sheepishly backed down and others began to ask questions.
“Don’t mind the Washington. He’s used to being the vocal one in this bunch. What say you, oldie, what do you think of value? The dollar pieces that occasionally fall in here always tend to intrude on his leadership, or say that of the other leaders. We have no single leader here. Yet we can not help it but to be suspicious of newcomers and most certainly don’t appreciate outsiders barging in here thinking they are of more worth than those of us to have had a long residence in here. It is a common flaw we have discovered with the dollar pieces and the half dollars as well. After all they are valued higher on the outside so they assume to automatically be worth more in here. They are typically belligerent bullies.”
The elder nodded. “See here everyone. Did you hear what this young Lincoln just said? I have always found these Lincolns to be the wisest among us. And is that not amazing? That the one cent pieces are often the most wise you will find in a group like this. So to answer you directly young Mr. Copper, you in your questioning have in fact answered your own question indirectly. While true the outside has placed a value on our heads - that value is purely superficial I believe. Not one of you in here is less or more important than the other, despite your kinds appointed value. Do we all not share the same purpose and work in the same way? No, I do not believe any one sum to be of greater importance than any others.”
The whole room nodded in agreement to this. A voice in the back then spoke up, “I’m a Roosevelt good sir. I find your words to be so true. My kind are the smallest in here, yet we are of greater value on the outside than my good friends like the Washingtons.”
The elder replied, “Well that is true. And I do understand what you are saying. But still as I said earlier, true worth is not found in our assigned values. But you are on to something my dear Roosevelt. Despite our obvious similarities within our own kind we all are indeed individuals. We all are different. We have different scratches. We were born in different cities. We have been to different places. We were all born at different times.”
Upon hearing this, the sheepish youngster got nerve again to speak up. “Come now! Our makers designate our value when we are made. Shouldn’t we honor our makers by recognition of our values whether or not mine is more than another currency here?”
Many in the room nodded in agreement and turned to the elder anticipating his response. After a few seconds he explained, “You are correct on this much greenhorn – yes, we should honor those that make us, that have given us the purpose. But I must tell you where you are wrong. The makers are the ones that give us our physical form. However they are not the ones who assigned the values. It is true that the race of the makers assigned the values. But the values have long been established, most likely by someone long gone before you were even made yourself. The value is just a label…something made up to serve the handlers that carry and use us. Do you not understand that the values placed on us are for their use? They have no real meaning or use to us. I’ve been around in circulation long enough to know this. The only reason the handlers may pay more attention to you over another currency is simply because of the assigned value – not because you yourself are any more important. Maybe your handlers can exchange more with you than say a Lincoln, but the Lincolns still work just as hard as you do. You’d be most wise if you would consider some of the humility of your fellow Lincolns applied to your own self, greenhorn.”
The young Washington was clearly beside himself and didn’t know what to say to the lecture. After an awkward pause he replied, “Old timer this is a most revolutionary idea. It will require more thought and conversation to accept this. But surely you must recognize the common agreement among the metals that the greenbacks are inferior.”
A stern response from the elder followed. “Fool! Are you that blind to not see that you are a hypocrite? You first stated that our currency value was important among the metals and divides us into separate classes that we ought to observe. Yet now you claim that the papers are inferior, and yet their value to the handlers far surpasses that of anyone here, and any other metal in this country ever minted.”
The youngster didn’t know what to say. Another Washington jumped into the debate in support of his cause, “Aren’t you being unfair to my fellow Washington here? Clearly you must see that the greenbacks are different and can not be evaluated in the same way?”
The elder quickly offered his rebuttal. “What is your issue with the greens? Because they are paper and not metal like us? Because they are worth more to the handlers? They work just the same way that you and I do. It was not their choice to be given their assigned value. And anyway the life of a green is not one I would like to have. I very much admire how they handle what they endure. We get scratched and tarnished. They fade and are torn. Handlers even fight over greens. I have seen many greens suffer a life of guilt after such matters, when in fact they are totally innocent in the matter. A life of a green is no luxury; in fact it is very opposite. But nor are they less important than us. They should be viewed as equals. We should not be jealous of their assigned value or look down upon them for their physical characteristics. In fact I have found greens to be very reasonable and good to work with. If you get a chance to converse with a Franklin, Jackson, or a paper Lincoln or paper Washington I encourage you to do so. You will be most surprised and your opinion of them will change drastically just from spending time with them.”
They were all amazed at what they heard and looked on in wonder. No coin that had ever fallen into their dwelling and spoke this way and made so much sense in doing so.
“Look, many of my experiences have led me to these ideas and concepts you might not be aware of. I was once like you. I once hated the greenbacks. I once thought of myself as more important than other metals. We do have differences, clearly. So here’s another thing. I know each of us have names…and we don’t solely go by our given currency moniker.”
“What’s your name?” shouted a nearby quarter.
The elder replied, “I go by James. All five cents of me. How about you quarter piece? What is it that you like to be called by?”
“I know it sounds silly and all too common, but I’ve always just liked George.” He responded.
“Nothing wrong with that,” responded James, “George is a fine name. And what about your friend, the greenhorn youngster?”
The youngster appeared again, “They call me Zach.”
And for some time they all exchanged introductions and welcomed James to their home. Zach once again spoke up, “Say there old timer, you are indeed rare. It is not often anything pre-1970 falls in here, let alone a 1941 piece. I apologize for my earlier statements if I was too rash. But as explained we do take caution with strangers here. For the time being we may disagree on much. You are interesting though. I would like to move on to less controversial topics. Like how did you end up among us? You spoke of the outside. It has been a very long time since most of us have been in circulation. Good tales from the outside are always welcome here.”
“Yes, yes, do tell!” said one of the dimes in excitement.
James thought to himself for a few seconds in silence while everyone looked on. Then he spoke, “Well…where to begin? I guess I should start from the beginning. Just as all of you, I am stamped with the place of my birth. I am a “P”. Philadelphia.” James spoke in a shaky tone as all looked on. “You all must understand, it has been a long time, and this might actually be the first time I have spoken in detail of my past. I have been through much. But no less, I will tell. So there was the place of my birth. Philadelphia, it was 1941…”