Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

That’s a $1? I Thought It Was a $100!

AprpmMon, 16 Apr 2007 13:28:46 +00002007-04-16T13:28:46+00:0001 11, 2007

One day, one of my roommates gave me what she said were some hundred-dollar bills to pay me back for money she had borrowed from me. I didn’t entirely trust her not to take advantage of me, so I later asked a coworker whom I thought I could trust if the bills were in fact hundreds, and he said that they were, so I went home and put them into my bureau until I could get to the bank to deposit them.

A few days later, I went to buy groceries with a bill that I thought was one of the hundreds, but the cashier told me that it was a one.

I still have no idea what happened. Maybe my coworker took the hundred and gave me back a one (I think this is unlikely, but technically I can’t rule it out). Maybe my roommate took the hundred out of my bureau and put a one in its place. Maybe the cashier was lying to me and ripping me off. I just don’t know and probably won’t ever know, but there would have been a lot fewer variables if I could tell a one from a one hundred myself.

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My Experiences As a Blind Person Using Currency Abroad

AprpmWed, 04 Apr 2007 20:42:31 +00002007-04-04T20:42:31+00:0008 11, 2007

I spent six months studying in Scotland when I was in college, and during that time I also visited England, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland and Sweden. In all of those countries the denominations of paper money varied by size, and in Scotland and England, where I spent the most time, I got to know the currency so well that I could identify each bill by touch. I still folded different types of bills differently in my wallet to make it easier to keep track of them, but for the first time in my life, I could tell for myself what the bills were before folding them so I didn’t have to ask a sighted person for help.

It was so liberating not to have to ask cashiers which bills were which when they gave me change. Now that I’m back in the U.S. and I do have to ask again, it bothers me more than it ever did before.  Now I know firsthand that it doesn’t have to be this way. That is why I am doing everything I can to work for the modernization of our currency in the U.S., so it can be as easy to use for all people, both blind and sighted, as the currency I used in Europe.

He Could Have Kept My $100

MaramFri, 30 Mar 2007 11:56:42 +00002007-03-30T11:56:42+00:0011 11, 2007

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.