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 taking the time to satisfy my civic duty and turn over the counterfeit;
- The nice journalist from Gazeta Wyborcza who showed considerable interest in the fake—and overwhelming interest in the aforementioned policeman’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 home visit on the morning following publication from a polite sergeant who kindly took my report and secured the evidence from me in my home, in his socks, no less (because I usually ask visitors to remove their footwear if they don’t mind—and the 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 big ones) by feeling them and holding them up to the light to check for an embedded security thread. Also do this with bills you are handing someone, 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, consider calling the police, stating your name, briefly describing the incident—and only then handing back the bill. Tell your customer that it is her or his duty to turn in the fake and that the police will come if called, but that one can also drop off the phony bill at any precinct.
- Three—do make the effort to turn in counterfeit money. Our 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.