For journalists, silly season is the month of August when everyone is away and there generally is a scramble to come up with something that passes as news.
A couple of things online this week are worthy of silly season, but my calendar says it is October.
The first involves a so-called $1 million bill that a man reportedly attempted to spend at a Pittsburgh grocery story. He was arrested and taken to the Allegheny County Jail.
The other story relates the story of a teenager who spent four proof Presidential dollars at a McDonald?s in Macomb, Ill., and then the bank that ultimately got the coins told the police they were counterfeit.
The reason for this stunning discovery: the coins had portraits of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison on them and the banker said that the Madison coin hasn?t been issued yet, so it must be counterfeit. The police bought it. They even turned the investigation over to the Secret Service.
Fortunately the teenager wasn?t hauled off to jail. His mother made good the $4.
I can imagine how excited the Secret Service is at this windfall of a counterfeiting case.
In America now it could be criminal to try to spend something that is completely unspendable, or to try to use Presidential dollars, which really are legal tender intended to be spent, but are not widely known to the general population.
If the man had tried to pay with jelly beans instead of the so-called million dollar bill, would he have been arrested?
I am glad I do not live in Pittsburgh or Macomb. I have been known to try to pay bills with $1 coins, 50-cent pieces, $2 bills and even old $1
Silver Certificates with blue seals. If the clerk refuses the cash tendered, which has happened, I am given a chance to pay with something else. The police aren?t called. I am not hauled off to jail ? yet.
But let us play this straight, let?s say it isn?t silly to try to spend a so-called $1 million bill, that it is truly a dangerous attempt at fraud. The computer generated design makes it resemble money, but it isn?t an exact copy.
Let?s say it is taken by the clerk after she says, ?That?ll be $87.49.?
How does she make change?
Does this clever thief tell her to keep the rest as a tip, or does he demand the other $999,912.51 be given to him immediately as change?
At this point, everybody should laugh, like she was given a $3 bill with Hillary or Rudy on it. The clerk apparently knew it wasn?t legal tender. A manager took away the offending item, but the man got mad and was taken to jail more for his temper than his attempt to spend it.
The teenager attempting to slide $4 of real Presidential coins into the nation?s commerce could be a monumental sore point. What if the coins actually started becoming widely recognized and used?
The restaraunt clerk should be given a pat on the back for actually recognizing money as money. The grocery store clerk knew the $1 million bill wasn?t money.
What?s the banker?s excuse? I can only wonder.