On our quick trip to Chicago to drop some things off to Richard this weekend, we stopped to gas up at a station somewhere in rural northern Indiana. As I was paying at the pump, this sign stopped me in my tracks. What’s wrong with $100 bills, and why would my paying with one affect my safety?
As it happened, I didn’t have any $100 bills. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I had a $100 bill in my wallet. Usually I don’t carry any currency larger than a $20 bill. Still, if I had a $100 bill, why shouldn’t I be able to pay with it? How is it unsafe? What, would the cashier rob me if I flashed a c-note? Are the other customers at this rustic gas station such a bunch of felons that the sight of a $100 bill is going to provoke them into a frenzy of theft, whereas a wallet with a few twenties wouldn’t? Is there some problem with the dye used in the portrait of old Ben Franklin?
Most fundamentally, I thought part of conducting a business in America means you have to accept American currency. I could see declining a $1000 bill and saying you don’t have enough money to make change. But a $100? No way!