Here’s something that happened to me a few years ago:
One night, I came home from work late and I decided to order a pizza. After a long day at the office I did not feel like cooking. After placing my order, I took out a $20 bill and sat down to watch television while I waited for the pizza. Thirty minutes later, my pizza arrived. I went to the door and handed the delivery man my $20 and asked him for $5 change. He handed me a bill and told me it was a $5.
Over an hour later, as I was watching a basketball game, I heard another knock on my door. I was surprised to hear someone knocking because it was almost 10 p.m., so when I got to the door I asked who it was. I was shocked when the voice on the other side replied that he was the pizza delivery man. As I was opening the door I began to wonder, “Did I not pay him enough? Was my $20 bill really a $5?”
My feelings of embarrassment quickly turned to shock as the man explained to me that I had accidentally given him a $100 bill instead of a $20. He said he did not immediately notice that it was a $100 because the light outside my door was burned out. I could not believe that he had returned the money to me. I let him keep fifty dollars as a tip because, the way I looked at it, I was still ahead thirty dollars and I wanted to reward his honesty.
As I went to sleep that night, I could not stop thinking about how I had almost lost all that money because of the inaccessible currency used here in America. I was also struck by the fact that the sighted delivery man could not tell the money apart either, because of the darkness outside. I knew that there had to be a better way, a design for American paper money that would protect both the delivery man and me from going through that kind of situation again.
Jonathan Simeone is an attorney who happens to be blind. He currently works for the American Bar Association.