I tried to buy a slice of pizza and was thwarted when I was told my five-dollar bill was counterfeit. Apparently it was missing the metallic strip on the sides. Stunned, I walked home with my tail between my legs like a scolded puppy.
The next day, I still had the supposed bad currency in my wallet and did the unthinkable… spent it. I didn’t remember it was a fake until the last moment when I handed it over. It went undetected but I was left wracked with guilt.
In the aftermath, I began discussing the situation with friends and co-workers. Was it normal to spend that money knowing it might be counterfeit? How would most people react? Would my reaction be different had it been a larger bill? Most people agreed that they too would’ve spent it, but acknowledged it was a fascinating idea to ponder.
I began making calls and spoke with an RCMP Sergeant who deals with these sorts of matters. First off, I actually admitted to a cop that I had spent fake money. Man, did that feel weird. Next, he made it clear that the bill I had used was unlikely fake. It was simply an older version. Phew.
(The Bank of Canada has a fantastic website devoted to counterfeit currency.)
I felt a lot better knowing that I had not handed over invalid currency, but the moral dilemma continued to play out in my head. Spending that bill made me feel childish and I would not do it again.
I will move on from this rejection, but learned that much like my five-dollar bill… an older version of myself is sometimes still in circulation.