Money, Hidden or Forgotten

I had an odd habit of hiding my money in random places as a kid. I’m assuming that the majority of children who don’t have their own bank accounts would put the money they received on birthdays or from grandma in some sort of piggy bank, but I scattered my money all over the place.

I would put $5 in a jar, bury it in the backyard, and then would carefully count the paces from the burial location to the screen door so I could later note it in a treasure map I’d draw up on computer paper with colored pencils. I’d stick a few dollars here and there in coats and pant pockets, and then immediately try to forget about it so I could later experience the small joy of discovering money in your pockets. I’d stick the money in cracks I’d find in the wall, or under loose flooring, and in-between the pages of books, and then spend the following day marching around the house with a flashlight, making sure each bill was still in its secret location.

I eventually got a velcro wallet and decided I was too busy to hide my money anymore, and then opened up a savings account when I was about 14, and deposited everything I had. These days, the only money I keep around my apartment is the standard jar of spare change I keep on top of my dresser.

The reason I’m recalling these memories of hiding money is because there are actual grownups in the world today who still hide money in their homes, most commonly, under their mattress, which is probably the most obvious place to hide money because that’s where everyone jokes about hiding their money.

In an interview with the Irish Times yesterday, a burglar revealed all of the places he found money when breaking into and stealing from people’s houses:

“You find it [cash] anywhere; under the bed, in a biscuit tin, a coffee jar. I got a roll of notes once in an ice cream box in the freezer; no ice cream in the f***ing thing, just cash. Sometimes they even leave it out on a counter . . . I don’t do old people’s gaffs, but if you do the money is always under the bed.”

If I were the sort of person who owned jewelry or had deeds or insurance papers I needed to lock up in a fireproof safe, I’d probably put a few hundred dollars in cash in there too because you never know when you need quick access to cash. But for the time being, it’s all in the bank. But, I still get excited when I find a twenty dollar bill in my coat pocket.

One of my favorite stories of people finding money in their coat pocket is from this chat that Oprah had with her best friend Gayle. Gayle recalls a time when her husband was in law school, and she was the sole income earner in their household. The couple was finding it difficult to find extra money in their budget to do something simple like go to the movies. She remembers sitting with Oprah, who reached into her pocket to discover that she had $482 in cash that she had forgotten she had. Here’s Gayle and Oprah:

Gayle: She goes, “God, where’d this come from? You want it?” And I went, “Oh, no. No. I’m good. I’m fine.” But I’m thinking, “God, that would pay the light bill, the phone bill, the gas bill.” And she just puts it back. It’s probably still in that damn pocket. She was just extending a gesture, just being nice: “Oh, you want it?”

Oprah: But years later, she said, “You remember that time you pulled out the $482?”

Gayle: I said, “I wanted that money so bad!”

Oprah: “I needed that money so bad, but I wouldn’t take it.” You know what that’s like? That is incredible for somebody like me who lives in a world where everybody wants a piece of you. I mean, people feel they deserve a piece of you. Strangers think that.

It’s probably still in that damn pocket. Amazing.


Photo: Shutterstock/Jill Battaglia



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