Moor or less: This big bill (or Benjamin) has got to go

I owed BillB a dollar after our weekly round of  Friday golf. As you can see, we are big bettors. “I don’t have a dollar bill,” I told him.

“That’s OK,” he said. “I have change.”

I pulled out the only money in my wallet. It was a $100 bill. “Not that kind of change,” he admitted.

Mark, the other member of our threesome, paid off my debt to BillB. That could have made headlines, as frugal as he is.

But back to my $100 bill. It’s been occupying my wallet for weeks now, ever since my boss at the garden center paid me off with it and some other crisp bills and told me to take the rest of the summer off — or as I interpreted, “Get lost.”

Who pays employees with $100 bills except casinos and drug cartels — and maybe the Greek mafia, in the case of my boss?

I don’t know what to do with mine. I would feel funny paying for the small kind of stuff I buy, and a lot of businesses don’t want anything to do with a $100 bill. When I’ve used them before, kids behind the counter looked at it as if it were funny — or worse yet, counterfeit — money, and they usually have to ask their supervisor what to do with it.

It’s like a hot potato that gets cold stares.

I asked around the table at lunch after our golf, and most of the guys seemed to feel the same way. The $100 bill is just sort of awkward.

Dennis, at the other end of the table, looked up some info on paper currency and learned that the $100 bill is the largest paper currency that the United States Mint now prints. Prior to 1969, bills of $500, $1,000 and even $10,000 were still being printed. That is almost hard to believe.

Know whose face was on the $10,000 bill? Nope, not him. It was Salmon P. Chase. Ring a bell? It didn’t for me. He was Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury, but he could have just as easily been the first baseman for the Boston Bees to me.

 Of course, we all know Benjamin Franklin is on the $100 bill, right? He stares back at me every time I look into my wallet these last few weeks.

I need to get rid of him. He has apparently scared off all the George Washingtons and Abraham Lincolns that are usually stuck in there. Either that, or my wife has been rifling through my wallet.

Benjamin Franklin, the most interesting individual of Colonial America in my opinion, wanted to name the turkey as our national bird. I’m thinking the $100 bill that features his face is a bit of a turkey itself.

You might think they are a rarity. You would be wrong. Wikipedia states that Federal Reserve data showed that the number of $100 bills exceeds the number of $1 bills. Yet about 75 percent of the $100 bills are in other countries.

Over the years, it has served as the currency of black-market transactions around the world. And because of widespread global counterfeiting, there has been some thought of doing away with the $100 bill. The $20 bill may be  the most commonly counterfeited banknote in the U.S., but counterfeiters overseas are more likely to make fake $100 bills. 

The $100 bill — or a Benjamin in slang terms— certainly is an interesting fellow. But I still don’t want him around.

Next golf outing, I may just give the $100 bill to BillB. I figure he’s going to beat me at least most — maybe all — of the next 100 times we play anyway. I could even start calling him Dollar Bill.

Then again, I could give it to some charitable cause. After all, Benjamin Franklin, the man on this money and considered the inventor of American philanthropy, once explained, “I would rather have it said, ‘He lived usefully,’ than ‘He died rich.’”

I like that. I think I can give the money to somebody who needs it more than I do. It will make me feel good — good about getting rid of it

My $100 bill can then become somebody else’s problem.