03 July 2016

Hats off to Larry

Larry Jonas
Larry Jonas, man with a noteworthy superpower
We occasionally touch upon real-life events that would never work in fiction because they beggar belief. Thanks to friends and classmates Kristi and Larry Jonas, we bring you such a tale, the true story of a man with his very own superpower, one he used to detect and defeat a small but ongoing crime.

Larry’s married to Kristi. For many reasons, he’s her superhero. Larry is also the president of the town council (i.e, mayor) of the pretty little town of New Palestine, Indiana, where Kristi keeps a beautiful house and a lovely garden.

Sitting around their kitchen table, they shared this story, one that lends a bright glow to those small injustices all of us experience from time to time.

The Fast-Fingered Filcher

In a fast food restaurant, Larry placed an order. He handed the girl behind the counter a $20 bill. She rang it up and gave him back change.
Larry said, “Excuse me, miss, I gave you a twenty. You returned change for a ten.”
“No, you handed me only a ten.”
“Not a ten, a twenty. You placed it under the drawer.”
“It was only a ten.”
“A twenty.”
“A ten. Next customer, please.”
“I’m not leaving until I receive the correct change.”
She jutted out her chin. “If you don’t leave, I’ll call the manager.”
The manager came out, wiping his hands on a towel. He inquired what the problem was.
The clerk snapped her gum and said in a disparaging tone, “He gave me a ten but demands change for a twenty.”
The manager looked at Larry. “Sir?”
Larry said, “Under the drawer you’ll find the twenty-dollar bill I gave her.”
The girl rolled her eyes. “Duh. That’s where we keep bigger bills.”
“But if you look at that one, you’ll find the series date is 2006 and the serial number is IK-6952317-E.”
The manager pulled the top bill from under the drawer. He stared at it in disbelief.
“What was that number again?”
“IK-6952317-E. Kind of a knack, see, I remember numbers. Also, someone scratched a pencil mark on the back.”
The manager gazed at Larry in awe, then handed him the twenty. “Thank you for bringing this to our attention, sir. I’m giving your money back and your meal is on us. As for you, young lady…” He fired the petty purloining perp on the spot.

Ah, Karma! Don’t you love a story that turns out right?


  1. Great story, Leigh! I had a similar thing happen at a McDonald's a long time ago. And they made me feel like a criminal as they closed the register and counted the money...until they found I was right, that they had short-changed me. But I didn't get the satisfaction of seeing the clerk fired. The irony is that not too long before that at another McDonald's in another city I had made my younger brother return extra change he'd gotten when we bought food. They were happy to take that money back, but when I pointed out their shortcomings, as I say, they made me feel like a criminal.

    And your friend has an amazing gift with memory or numbers or whatever :)

  2. Times have changed. Back in 1972, when I worked in a fast food burger joint that was privately owned, a man handed me a $5 but told me he'd given me a $20. (That was a lot more money in those days, too.) The owner happened to be standing right behind me when it happened, and saw me look at him, puzzled, and ask, "I'm sorry. What did you say?" I honestly couldn't figure out what he meant at first. I will never forget the triumphant and nasty look on his face when he repeated that he'd given me a $20. I didn't know what to say. I looked in the till. I put my hand on the $5 slot where I had just put this man's bill and there was no $20 laid there by accident. The owner stepped forward and said softly behind me, into my ear, "Give him change for a $20." So I did. The man went out laughing. I turned around and the owner said, "That's why you always put any bill larger than a $5 under the drawer before you make change. That way you can show them what they handed you." He had instructed me to do this earlier and I hadn't. It simply had not seemed important. In this case, it was clear the man made a practice of "gotcha" with people who simply put his bill in a place where they could not prove it was his. And in those days, the customer was always right. But then, that was 45 years ago now. Different world.

  3. I'm amazed at anyone who can remember phone numbers never mind bill serial numbers!

  4. I can understand someone picking a $20 bill off the floor and debating what to do with it. But cheating someone you’re staring in the face is beyond most folks’ ability to fathom. This reminds me of ‘Dr. Bob’, the disbarred lawyer/judge discussed back in March. He simply enjoyed cheating people.

    Paul, I’m glad they counted down the drawer, thus validating your claim, however belatedly. Good for you and your brother.

    Anon, cheating a kid… that’s really low. Thanks for the explanation about why cashiers put larger banknotes under the drawer. And thanks for sharing your story. It left an impression for all the wrong reasons.

  5. Good point, Janice. Here’s my Achilles heel: Central Florida has an inordinate number of highways numbered 4xx with no discernible geographic pattern. I have a hell of a time recalling which is which. These include the 414, 419, 441, 434, 436, 429, 435, 451, 408, 417, 423… Frankly I hadn’t realized how bad it was until I started listing them. I defy anyone other than Larry Jonas to keep them in mind.

  6. A Broad Abroad03 July, 2016 14:52

    Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Googol Guy! What an impressive and enviable superpower.

    Attending your school reunion was worth it for that anecdote alone, Mr Lundin, made all the more satisfying by knowing the baddie was thwarted.

    If he’s not already doing so, Larry’s particular superpower lends itself to a rather lucrative hobby:

    Check those bills! ‘Fancy’ serial numbers can mean big bucks!

    Is your dollar bill worth thousands? The bizarre trend for collecting cash with ‘interesting’ serial codes

    [Towards the end of the first article are four links to websites where you can learn more.]

    Right, gentle people, check those wallets – you may wealthier than you’d imagined.

    P.S. Good wishes to all for tomorrow’s 4th July celebrations.

  7. Googol… clever, ten duotrigintillion, 1 followed by 100 zeroes. I can remember that.

    ABA, Larry can now truly say he has international recognition. Since midnight, several hundred additional people worldwide now know of his superpower: The figures at the moment in the top ten are: United States (2490), Russia (333), Germany (261), Ukraine (197), Canada (137), United Kingdom (117), China (110), France (69), Netherlands (67), and Latvia (58). Lativa? Who knew! And South Africa… at least one.

    ABA, thank you for the links.

    Trivia for number crunching superheroes: googol (the above math concept, not the Google company), was named in 1920 by a 9-year-old boy. And speaking of numbers, everyone have a happy 4th of July.

  8. Leigh, the reverse scam is that Partner #1 comes in and buys something with a twenty dollar bill, gets his change and leaves. Then Partner #2 comes in, buys something with a five, but claims he used a twenty. To verify his claim, he recites the serial number from the twenty used by Partner #1.

  9. That's devilishly clever, R.T. That's a lot easier to pull than those AmEx bogus waiter's charges.


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