The long version includes the following elements:
- Money almost certainly obtained from a bank, though possibly not, because running errands with a preschooler in tow leaves little attention not just for verifying the authenticity of bills, but also for keeping track of transactions;
- A carwash attendant who either switched my real bill for a fake or merely handed me back the fake I was—unknowingly—trying to pay with;
- The police officer on duty at my local precinct who failed to make the most of the fact that there I was, several days after the carwash accident, actually performing my civic duty and trying to turn over the counterfeit;
- The nice journalist from Gazeta Wyborcza who showed considerable interest in the fake cash—and overwhelming interest in the aforementioned officer’s dismissive attitude;
- The article published by Piotr Machajski in Gazeta Wyborcza on April 11, 2013, entitled Counterfeit hundred? “Come back later”;
- Over one hundred reader comments on this article, most containing slurs against the police for general ineptitude or against me for either not knowing where I got the bill, having any expectations of the police, or in fact having counterfeited the money myself;
- A pleasant visit on the morning following publication from a sergeant who took my report and secured the evidence in my home, in his socks, no less (because I tend to ask visitors to remove their footwear if they don’t mind—and the polite sergeant didn’t mind); and
- Another article by Machajski with a requisite and prompt update, titled Counterfeit hundred claimed by the police following publication by Wyborcza.
The other version, or, ultimately, the version I care about more, consist of three pieces of advice to my fellow users of money:
- One—counterfeits do occur. Check the bills you receive (at least the higher-denomination ones) by feeling them and holding them up to the light to check for the embedded security thread. Also do this with bills you are handing to a stranger, so that you’ll know your bill wasn’t fake, and so the person taking your money will see that you know it.
- Two—if you’re a shop owner and someone hands you a bill that looks fake, don’t just pass it back to them or they might wind up wondering whether you switched it. Instead, think of something else, though it beats me what that ought to be.
- Three—do make the effort to turn in counterfeit money. Society won’t change into one where cops give a damn (without a shove from the press, at least) unless we give a damn ourselves, first.