Keep the Change (Clean)

We recently went through Anti Money Laundering training at my office (again). The training included ways to identify potential money-laundering behavior, some red flags to watch for, and some tips for avoiding potentially risky activities (for example, never float a loan to a guy named Osama, especially if he lists his address as "unknown cave in Pakistan" on the application).

Personally, I've never seen all of the fuss about money laundering. I mean, I've sent my wallet through the washer several times, and the money seems to come out just fine. In fact, it did a lot better than my receipts, which melded into a solid white brick that looked like it would have fit in perfectly at those adobe homes that New Mexico is always bragging about. Our bookkeeper complained a little bit when I tried to submit them like that, but she relented when I told her that this was just part of the new "consolidated entry system" that we're enabling. I just had my boss sign the brick to show that he approved it. So now I'm thinking that laundering seems like a pretty efficient way to handle expenses, too.

There are some things that definitely should not be laundered. Kleenex, for example, unless you're going for that "fresh out of the lint trap" look that's all the rage on college campuses these days. Rocks also should not be laundered, nor should your daughter's collection of seashell fragments that have apparently been in her coat pocket since your trip to the beach last summer. Which implies that perhaps children's coats should be added to the "do not launder" list. They're just going to rub up against the car the minute they get into the garage anyway, and then they'll outgrow the darn things before you wash them again. And in my son's case, the dirt may be all that's holding the coat together, given his penchant for leaping into impromptu full-contact football games with friends, relatives, and the occasional shrubbery.

Money, though, seems to be a prime candidate for laundering. I saw a "Dateline" investigation that showed that the average twenty dollar bill actually contains up to 5% human fecal matter, 4% cocaine or heroin, and 20% hemp. Five dollar bills have approximately the same makeup, but with an additional 11.5% old lady smell from all of the grandmas putting them into birthday cards, even when the recipients are fully grown and probably deserve some sort of inflation adjustment in their birthday presents after 35 years, for crying out loud! Not that I'm ungrateful or anything.

Having done a little work in New York, I've seen my share of dirty money. For starters, have you seen the grimy bills that people drop into the guitar cases of those hairy guys playing in the subway and on the streets? I wouldn't touch those things without a full bottle of hand sanitizer close by. Not to mention the pennies thrown from the top of the Empire State building, the nickels thrown at the guys preaching in the middle of Times Square, and the dollar bill taped to the inside of the tip jar at every Starbucks. And who are they kidding, anyway? I just paid $4.39 for a drink and they expect me to finance their next eyelid piercing? I'll keep my 61 cents in change, thank you very much, no matter where it's been.

Besides, I can always run it through the washer when I get home.
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