And to think that’s what we used to call worthless money – also known as “funny money.” Well, I marched up to the Citibank teller with 2,112 renminbi that Charles had tossed into bags when he came home over the years, and there was $287.86 coming back my way. (Chances are it would have appreciated over the next few years; but a birdnest soup in the hand, and all that.) Likewise a further $1,000+ in euros ($509.02), in old French francs ($349.09), old Italian Lire ($6.69), old Swissies ($40.71), Hong Kong dollars ($15.40) and British pounds ($114.82) – except that the bulk of my 2,080 Hong Kong dollars and British pounds she handed back to me – along with my 47,200 Indonesian rupiah, my 700 yen, my 33,000 won, my 240 dihrams, some Guatemalan money that had somehow found its way into the bag (Guatemala? I’m fairly certain Charles never went to Guatemala, but maybe I need to rethink that) – all notes were too old to show up on her screen. The pound notes, certainly, were right as rain. Queen Elizabeth, the Bank of England. Who could doubt it? But if my teller didn’t see a picture of currency on her screen that matched the currency in her hand, back it came.

So there’s still a ways to go on this – a great project for a nephew who wants to navigate the shark-infested waters of Times Square currency conversion – but all told, including a smaller earlier stash I had cashed in, I’d say we had something a little north of $2,000 scattered around for a rainy multi-national day.


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☞ Note how China will be catching up to our energy consumption (a dubious distinction, but still) any minute now.


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