Sunday, December 13, 2009

Why Wikipedia is Necessary.

Rodney Dukes found $1,000,000 in a pay phone in East St. Louis.
[According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

He drove to the main library building in downtown St. Louis. He bounded up the library's wide stone steps in a hurried stride, the $1 million bill on his mind.

"I'm trying to find something out about a million-dollar bill," he said.

"You're looking for what now?"

"A million-dollar bill. To see if it's ever been made."

[By Todd C. Frankel, 12/13/2009]
The librarian looked, but didn't find what Rodney needed to know, that his $1,000,000 was fake. Rodney's note looked real. It says, "1,000,000" right on the front next to a picture of Rutherford B. Hayes, a dead, white President. So it must be real, right?

Unfortunately, the librarian didn't have all the information, since Rodney had just mailed his bill to the Federal Reserve to have it authenticated. I'm hoping that the librarian would have found the answer, otherwise.
"Hmmm," the librarian said. "It's not matching anything."

"But you can't say for sure, can you?" Rodney countered.
Reading the story, the reporter never gives you that important information you'd need if you wanted to solve the mystery for yourself. The reader needs to follow along with Rodney, to feel what he feels, and to know only as little as he knows about his possible lucky find.

But one quick Google search and one click on the Wikipedia link to, "Fake denominations of United States currency" answered the question as to whether Rodney was a rich man. Frankly, I didn't know whether the million dollar bill was going to turn out real, or not. The only thing I know about million dollar bills are the urban legends you hear about how the federal government printed super-valuable notes to move large sums of money during wartime.

So, no, Rodney didn't get rich. His bill is fake, but not counterfeit since the United States has never issued a real $1,000,000 bill.

I feel sorry for the guy. According to the story, he spent months hoping that the bill was real and dreaming of escaping his life of poverty. If only he'd spent five minutes with me, I could have destroyed that hope before it even started; lucky for him, he didn't.

Yeah, don't read the last few lines about how Rodney is about to blow ten real dollars on some lottery tickets. I felt kinda sorry for the guy until then.