Opinion: Imagine winning big on prize bonds....
I got a letter last week that gave me the best laugh I've had in a long time.
Tearing open a white envelope bearing An Post's green logo, I found an official-looking document, green on top, pink on the bottom, serrated in the middle.
I have a few prize bonds and instantly thought I must have won something.
Yes, it did say Barántas/Warrant.
I am starting to need reading glasses and didn't have them on, but my eyes quickly jumped to see how much it was for and landed on a rectangle, in which sat, "75".
Not so bad, I thought, that'll get me a nice meal or maybe a cosy little jacket, now that the year is rapidly turning.
I took a closer look.
It was very impressive and formal. There was stuff written in both Irish and English, watermarks, serial codes, etc. It was even emblazoned with a little silver metallic square.
Then I saw a little table consisting of a series of denominations and a box under each for the quantity.
The box under €1,000 read "0". The box under €100 read "0". The box under €10 read "0". The box under €1 read "0". Then, finally, in the box under Cent, was my "75".
I looked back to the first rectangle. There, nestled in at the front of the foot of the 7 was a decimal point.
I burst out laughing. I found it hilarious that there would be such fuss about this tiny amount of money. I know that it would be the same thing regardless of the amount. But still!
I had a State savings bond which recently matured. As interest rates have plummeted, I decided to put the proceeds into prize bonds. They don't generate any interest but the funds can be accessed at any time and I might even win a million! My 75c must have been the remainder when the purchase was complete. Presumably, the prize bonds will arrive in due course.
I shoved the warrant into my handbag and, in the Post Office a few days later, came across it as I was getting out my purse.
The 'customer information' section states: "If cashing the attached warrant in a Post Office, you must have suitable current Photo ID (passport, driving licence etc.).
"I don't have ID on me but can you cash this anyway?" I asked the cashier, pushing the warrant towards her, feeling a mixture of sheepishness and mischievousness.
"No," she said. Then she looked at the warrant, did a double take, let out a big guffaw, and said, "of course I can".
"It's for 75 cent," she told the other cashier in disbelief, who herself pointed out, "it would have taken a euro to post it".
When I'd signed for it and given my PPS, I finally took possession of my 75c, which Ruth promptly deposited in a nearby poor box.
I couldn't help wondering how small a warrant would be issued. Perhaps all the way down to a cent?
It brought to mind a story about the current incumbent in the White House.
In 1990, a satirical American magazine named Spy did an experiment to determine the country's tightest celebrities.
In the first round, they issued 58 cheques to the value of $1.11 to 58 celebrities including Cher, Henry Kissinger and Donald Trump - 26 were cashed, including Donald Trump's.
In the follow-up round, 26 cheques for 64c were issued, of which 13 were cashed, again including Donald Trump.
Finally, they went for one last hit. They issued 13 cheques for 13c. Two people cashed them: a billionaire Saudi arms dealer named Arabian Adnan Khashoggi and Donald Trump.
Some people obviously feel that if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves, and this is far from the worst example of waste/inefficiency in this country, but surely there has to be a more sensible and pragmatic way of dealing with matters like the above.
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