Sunday, January 30, 2011

Great things about being blind. My story of money identification

Yesterday I was asked a question about how I identify paper money. It brought back one of my all time favourite funny experiences. In some countries, bills are of different sizes. Not in Canada. We used to have no way of identifying paper money except for something called a bank note reader that you put your bill in and it read the denomination. Half the time though, (if the bill was wrinkled or something like that) it would say "Cannot read." I heard that more times than I would care to tell you. I always felt like saying, "Well I cannot read it either." I developed a system of folding bills in different ways. Putting them in different pockets of my wallet. I still use this system today. Over the past few years in Canada, they have placed tactile bars on the corners of bills. People think that they represent the numbers in braille, but they don't. What they have is one bar for five, 2 for 10, 3 for 20, etc. But still, I fold and place my bills as I always have. We used to have one and two dollar bills which have since been replaced by one and two dollar coins. The one dollar coin has a picture of a loon on it and it began to be called the loonie. When the two dollar coin came along, it became the toonie. I know you non-canadians, stop laughing at our odd names for money. Smile! This happened when we had one and two dollar bills as well as the others. This meant I had to be very innovative in my folding of money. One evening, we were coming through a very busy Canadian airport. After having gone through customs or security, I realized that I had left my purse somewhere. I went back to security and described my purse to them. They said they had found it and turned it into the office. They took me to the office. A very serious sounding woman was there. She asked what I had in the purse and I described what I had, my ID's and cards. She was satisfied that I was who I said I was. She handed back the purse. "Your wallet really was a mess," she said, "all that money folded up and in different places." She sounded quite disgusted by the whole situation. "I unfolded it all and straightened it all out for you," she said sounding very proud of herself. "And I put it all into one compartment." I very gently explained why I had my money in that state. Humbled, she identified my bills for me so that I could re-fold them and put them back where they belonged. She didn't sound nearly so haughty when I bid her farewell.

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