October 17, 2012

On Finding [out more than I wanted to know about] George


There was a time early on in high school, back in the days of MySpace and AOL instant messenger, when I stumbled upon a web site called "Where's George." My mom, ever the avid reader, had found an article in a magazine about the site, and I was thrilled when she told me about it.

The function of the site: track your dollar bills.

In order to track your bills, you simply enter the serial number of the bill into the site. If someone before you has entered the bill, it will have a list of the places the bill has been and the people who have owned the bill before you. It told you what city they were in, how long it took the bill to travel there, the bill's speed, and a little note from the person who entered the bill before or after you. Sometimes people would write "wheresgeorge.com" on the bills to encourage others to enter the bill's information.

After entering the bill, it was to be used just as you would regular cash currency.

I went on a george finding rampage. I entered all the dollar bills I could get my hands on. I would leave detailed information about where I got my bills: the mall, at work, my mom's purse. It was especially exciting when bills I entered had a prior history, or when a bill was entered by another user after I'd sent it on into the world of legal tender exchange.

The stories were generally simple. "Received as a tip at the Downtown Deli in Anchorage, Ak. The bill is in good condition." "I received this bill as change when crossing the Benicia Bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area and took it home to Truckee Ca., Lake Tahoe Area." "Received bill while selling Discovery Toys at the LA County Fair."

Some of the entries didn't make sense. "Has pink highlighter on it...was probably involved in a bank robbery." "The black guy brought it in to Sinclair, but then we gave it back to him." What?

But even the strange entries didn't deter me from my mission. I loved learning about the stories of the bills. I loved seeing how long it took for my money to travel from Albany, Oregon to North Carolina, Alaska, Utah, and Nevada.

Until one day.

I emptied my wallet to enter all my bills. I entered the numbers and years of each one into the web site, careful to scrawl "wheresgeorge.com" on the top and side of each bill. About halfway through my stack, I finally found a bill that had been entered into the site before. I was so excited, and quickly perused the dollar's history.

"I am a stripper. I got this bill as a tip. thanx."

Before I could finish reading the sentence, all of my cash was on the ground. How could I touch money again? It took me several weeks to get over washing my hands every time I was near money. After a year or two of entering my money, my quest to find every bill's history ended.

I learned that every dollar bill has a story, and every "george" is on a journey. In the same way, every person has a story, and is on a journey. Many times people's stories seem simple and straightforward, sometimes people are strange and don't make sense, and other times people disgust us. We don't want to touch them. We don't want to get close to them. We want to wash our hands of them. 

That is the paradox of being a Christian. When we naturally want to disengage and move away from people, we probably should try and understand them. That's what Jesus does for us. The people who are weird and gross to us probably need love the most. That's what Jesus did when he was on earth. When we humble ourselves and get over our pride, we can actually hear their story, understand them better, and maybe even learn to love them.


  1. Holy Crap. That's the last time I ever hold a dollar bill in my mouth again. But seriously... my husband and I were just talking about this tonight- getting close to people that make us uncomfortable. This is a great picture (and a very funny story).

    1. I never really thought about how dirty money is before this happened. But since its paper, it can never be washed. Totally gross!

  2. How to wash your money:


  3. I'm surprisingly sad he/she was only making ones...I thought stripping paid bigger bills. I think I'll change my spare change msg on my $$$. Thanks!