The Question Is, What Is A Dollar Worth To You

Mike: The other day, I added $40 to my subway card, except I discovered later that the machine messed up and actually didn’t add any money to the card. When I got home and checked my bank account, $40 was of course debited from the machine. I had just finished work, and was hungry and just wanted to take off my shoes and relax, but I walked back to the subway station and asked the person in the booth what I should do. He told me I had to fill out a form, mail the Metrocard and that form plus my receipt to MTA headquarters where they would try to sort things out for me within seven business days. But I still had some money on my card, so I decided to use it until the money ran out and then mail it in with the form. Which is my 1 Thing to take care of today. Anyway, it seems like a bit of a hassle to get this corrected, and I’m wondering if there are people out there who would be like, “forget this,” and just consider it money lost.

Logan: RAISES HAND. Also: You have the receipt?!

Mike:Yes, I always get a receipt. For record-keeping purposes! Wait, you wouldn’t try to get your $40 back? It’s $40! I’m going to be okay if I lose $40—like, it’s not going to mean I’m going to go hungry. But if I know there’s a way to get that money back I’m going to do it.

Logan: I mean, maybe I would talk to the person at the counter? Actually I probably wouldn’t because I would just know that she would need me to go through some other steps and hurdles. I don’t know I just don’t think I would. Shit happens! Except I would be nervous to refill my Metrocard until the end of time. I might not ever refill it again actually and only buy Fresh Ones. In related news, I still haven’t returned my busted headphones from last week, so.

Mike: Haha, Logan, if the machine in the subway station ever messes up, let me know so I can help you get your money back! Or at least let the MTA person know so that they can get their dumb machine fixed. And you’ve probably taken the effort to get money back before. Actually, I know you have. Also, it’s easy to think about what you’d do in a theoretical situation, but I sort of have the feeling that if a machine ate $40, you’d be like, “Uh, what? No, give me my money back.”

Logan: You’re right I need to stop making blanket statements based on the idea that I am “bad with money” and “lazy” and “not the type of person that would ______.” Everyday is a new day. Each moment is a new moment. Each me is a new me. Maybe I would go straight to the post office and write and lean against that counter in the back and write a strongly-worded letter and demand it all be fixed. And send it priority mail! It could happen!

Also Mike. Mike. I just had a startup idea. A sick sick startup idea. Everyone does everyone else’s Terrible Tedious Tasks for them. Like, I’d get you your $40 back. And you’d return my headphones. And maybe like, we’d split the proceeds? Actually this might not work at all because it would involve me getting the headphones and the receipt to you, and if I’m going to go through all that effort, I may as well just return the headphones myself, which I haven’t done, which we’ve already established, and I guess we’re back at the start! What is the missing element, what am I not seeing. Does it need to be an APP???????

Mike: Actually, I kind of like the idea of doing someone’s thing they don’t want to do in exchange for a percentage of the money. But I think it would mostly work in situations like, “Ugh, I have all these old gadgets I’m not using anymore, I should put them on eBay or Craigslist.” You could give that stuff for someone to sell for you, and then split the money however you think is fair. I think this is a seed to an idea! But it needs to be hashed out a bit more.

Logan: Aaaaannnnnnd I just got bored with it. Also it must exist. Everything exists.

Mike: Anyway, this sort of reminds me of the time Mallory got overcharged when she bought chicken wings. When do we let things slide? I think I’m likely to chase after that $40 or $5 that I know is owed to me most of the time if it doesn’t cost me in other things like time, which is also valuable to me.

Logan: I just had another thought about it, which is, it probably depends on how valuable that $5 or $40 is for your At That Moment. Like, if that $40 was my last $40 for a long time, I’d go after it like a A Large Cat. But if I had a full bank account, I’d be like, W H A T E V E R. Our personal value of a dollar changes with circumstance!

Mike: Omg. This reminds me of a time I worked for a wealthy person who told me that while he was on his lunch break, he pulled $400 out of the ATM and when he walked out of the bank, the wind blew it out of his hands. He was laughing as he was telling me this story and in my head I was thinking, “If I lost $400 to the wind, I’d cry.” And then he said, “This very interesting thing happened which was that after the money blew down the street, other people went chasing after it, and then they ran back up to me to give me the money!”—as if he expected people to just run off with it? But it’s sort of true what you’re saying: It seemed to him like no big deal to lose $400 because he probably had a million dollars in that account, but: circumstances!

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