DIY Currency-Circulation Tracking

Remember when your momma used to tell you: “Wash your hands after touching that money. You don’t know where it’s been!” Well, now you can reply: “I do so! Let’s see: it first showed up in Dayton, Ohio, five years ago, at a Sonic drive-thru, then it headed south, then west, spending a lot of time being handed around amongst Texans. It was even found on the floor of a Dallas strip joint!”

Okay, maybe momma was right. Go wash your damn hands!

Such is the circulation tracking fun to be had at Where Is George?, a volunteer currency tracking system where participants who find bills with “Track this bill at” stamped on them can log on, find the history of the bill (by entering the serial number), and record the circumstances of finding it themselves, before re-releasing it into the wild.

This morning, on the DC Metro, I was feeding a dirty dollar into the farecard machine when I noticed such a stamp. I yanked the bill back before that money-grubbing, ticket-dispensing robot got its steely grippers on it, took the bill to my computer and looked it up. It started out life (as a marked bill, anyway) two years ago, in Honolulu, Hawaii. The sender wished a fond “mahalo” to the next recipient. It hadn’t been tracked since, so I took my Pacific island thank yous, added my own info to the record, and finally feed it into the hungry farecard machine on my way home. I will definitely keep an eye on the bill’s log to see where it shows up next. It’s weird, with all of the money that mindlessly passes through my mitts, I’m now strangely invested in one shabby dollar that I fond a long way from home. Mahalo, George!