The other day I was at Staples, sending a fax. I’d brought my daughter along, and she was admiring the cameras while I waited in line to pay a little more than two dollars. As I waited, I recalled the scene in the 1972 film Paper Moon where the 9 year old girl and her partner pulled a con on a saleslady.
The man pays with a large bill, which was marked on the back “Happy Birthday Addie.” When the girl comes later to pay for her candy, she pays with a 5-spot, and gets her $4.75 change. As she counts her change, she tells the lady that she’s been short-changed, that she’d paid with a 20 dollar bill. The saleslady corrects the girl, the girl cries and creates a noisy scene. The manager comes and digs out the 20 which Addie tearfully tells him has her name on it, which he sees, and commands the saleslady to give her $19.75 and another piece of candy.
As I was waiting for my change for the 20 I gave the very nervous, very young cashier, Paper Moon playing in my mind, I idly wondered, “What if this guy thought I gave him a 50 dollar bill? It would be so cool to come up on some extra free money, buy my daughter something…” I watched him count me out $47.22 in change, “–and 22 cents makes 50. Thanks and have a nice day — Next!” I walked away, stunned, counting the money. The receipt showed I’d given him a 50, I was instantly a much richer man.
And suddenly I was a bad man. A magical and manipulative man! A dangerous Secret-wielding man, using the law of attraction to come up on some cash and possibly get a kid fired from his new job. There he was with brand new Dickies, a stiff black belt, creases still in his uniform shirt, sweat on his pimply brow, probably his first day. He was clueless to his mistake, and helpless to my power.
I gathered my girl, and told her to watch her daddy save a guy’s job and Do The Right Thing (in righteous capital letters). He was grateful, but smart enough to keep it low profile. I wonder if he’d ever seen a 50 dollar bill in his life, when was the last time and aren’t they kind of odd? And where do you put the 50’s and the 100’s in the register? Under the change drawer, with the checks, as I remember — so what the hell was he thinking? Apparently whatever I wanted him to think.
I had inadvertently attracted money I actually wanted into my life, but in a way I did not know I was capable. It would have been evil — or at least sleazy — of me to keep the money, and I believe would have only attracted more misery, later. I’m glad I didn’t have to keep it as a dirty little secret. I wouldn’t have been able to share the con here with you, but only with the shadiest of my friends in the criminal underworld, where my daughter and I would have undoubtedly tail-spun down into…
So watch out for what you ask for, and keep track of what you believe in, cause what you ask for could fall into your hands in the weirdest way, when you least expect it.