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For the Greater Good

The story about a dollar bill is told from a the bill's perspective. As the story is told we learn about different ways the dollar can be used and which of those ways brings life.

SLAM! I was jerked from my wonderful dream of being soaked in the warm sun, by a gigantic block of metal.

"Ouch!" I said.

I heard groans from my fellow companions, no doubt feeling the same sinus pressure that I was. I heard hissing of machinery and more metallic clangs.

"What's going on?! Where am I?!" I wondered aloud.

I was answered almost immediately by a wheezy voice from my left. I tried to look over, but it was difficult, as I'm as flat as, well, paper. I managed to see a messy stack of recycled paper.

"What did you say?" I asked tentatively.

"You're in the printing factory in Richmond, Virginia. Welcome to the world," I heard the wheezy voice again.

"Richmond?" I asked in disbelief.

Suddenly there was a violent jerk and the pile of recycled paper began to slowly disappear from my view.

"Oh, great," I thought.

I slowly looked at my surroundings, trying to figure out what was in store for me next.

After waiting for something, anything, to give me some clue as to what was going on I fell asleep. I was rudely awakened again by another jerk. I opened my eyes to find a gigantic face with a double chin wobbling above me. It was a man who hadn't shaved for a while and who obviously hadn't showered for a while either. His face was covered in black soot and grease. He roughly carried us to the back of a muddy truck and slammed us onto the mud-crusted surface. Then the man reached up and grabbed a string and yanked it down, revealing a large, pasty belly that was hanging over his pants. I squeezed my eyes shut and groaned thinking that I would never see light again. Once again I fell asleep.

I opened my eyes when I heard metal scraping against metal. The morning sun blinded me from behind a figure whose features were blackened out by his shadow. I looked around and saw that I was in a deserted parking lot.

"Uh, oh," I thought, "Where am I now?"

The man leaned over the edge of the truck and heaved me up, along with several hundred other papers, and began a comical sort of shuffle. It was a mix between a skip and a hop. The man did his shuffle up to the door of a building that had a curved entryway and knocked on the glass.

A smiling woman with short, brown hair, a white turtleneck, and a green apron on came to the door and held it open for him. "Thanks," a deep voice came from his chest. I noticed an immediate temperature change when we entered the building. It was freezing!

"Where the heck are we?!" I wondered. I saw doors with large white block letters above them that said "East", "West", and "South." I eyed them skeptically.

"What could this mean?" I thought to myself. The man brought me up to a counter that had on it a cash register and some candy. I noticed that there was a sign above the counter with things like "Beverages" and "Ice Cream" written on it. I looked at my companions and they just shrugged at me, obviously just as confused.

Then I heard one quiet voice saying, "We're at a concessions stand!"

"What's a concessions stand?" I wondered aloud. I decided to ask that small voice later.

After we had been loaded into the cash register and the drawer shut with a high pitched ding I sought the small voice out. He was in the paper pile next to me. I asked him where we were.

"We're at a hockey arena," he said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, "We're at the concessions stand."

"What exactly are we?" I asked confused.

"We're dollar bills! We are money. We are used to pay for things!" he shouted.

I was shocked. Money? I was money? Not just any money. A dollar bill? That is the smallest form of paper money anywhere! I couldn't be a twenty-dollar bill, or even a ten! No, no, I had to be a one dollar bill.

I was thinking this over in my head when I heard the high-pitched ding of the cash register drawer and I was scooped out along with a few different sized metal things.

"And $4.50 is your change," I heard the woman who had the green apron on say as she squeezed me in between a bag of "Swedish Fish" and the different sized metal things.

I was placed into the warm hand of another and I glanced up. I noticed that he had an enormous bag slung over one of his shoulders and a wooden stick in one of his hands.

"This must be a 'hoci' player," I decided. I was quickly thrust into his pocket and I clanged with the small metal things.

"What are you?" I asked them.

"We're change," they stated sarcastically.

I kept my mouth shut after that, thinking only to myself. Once again I fell asleep.

The next day the boy reached into the pocket of the pants that I was located in and grabbed me along with the three other dollar bills and the "change."

I saw the glorious sun for just a few seconds before I was thrust into yet another pocket. "Is there no end to this!?" I thought, "Is this all I will ever amount to?!" I would have cried if I had actual tears.

A few hours later the boy walked into a building that said, "Caribou," on it. I was immediately met with a funny smell. It was thick and fresh, if that makes any sense. I wondered where we could be. I then heard a bell ding and a feminine voice say, "Mocha Latte, extra cream!"

"What in the world is a 'Moka Lawtae?'" I wondered. I heard the "change" sigh, annoyed. Obviously they knew what it was and thought me an idiot for not also knowing.

"One hot cocoa, please," I heard the boy say.

"Oh, no! Here we go!" I knew that I was going someplace else now, and what for? Something stupid like a 'Moka Lawtae.'

"That'll be $1.50," I heard the girl say. The boy dug his hand into his pocket grabbing (guess who?) me, another dollar, and two of the pieces of "change."

I was once again in the glorious light of the sun. The waitress took the other dollar and pieces of "change" and placed them in a cash register. I, however, was kept out. She put me into a plastic jar that I managed, after a while, to read as "SPIT."

After the long day was over the girl emptied the tip jar spilling me, along with other money, onto the counter. After some bickering between her and some other girl who had short black hair and eyes with thick, black rings around them, she took me along with some of the other money and neatly placed us into her wallet. We were then placed into her purse.

About a half hour later I heard a dull sound that sounded like music. It wasn't like heavy metal or anything; it was a soothing, stringy sort of sounding piano.

"This is nice," I thought, closing my eyes, ready for yet another nap.

However I was not allowed to drift into a sweet slumber because the girl took out her wallet and opened it. I saw that we were in a building with a high wooden ceiling. I could barely make out words that were written on the ceiling. "Matthew...Mark...Luke...John?" I asked aloud.

There were also pictures on the windows of a man at the head of a table with several other men seated with him. He had a loaf of bread in one hand and a gold cup in the other. I was confused.

Then the girl gently took out three other dollars, a five-dollar bill, and me and placed it into a golden bowl. I politely asked the dollar situated next to me where we were. "We're in the offering bowl!" she said excitedly, "We're going to help those in need!"

I would have smiled if I had lips. I was finally going to do something other than get some "Swedish Fish," or a "Moka Lawtae." This is what I had been hoping for. Suddenly being a dollar didn't seem so bad after all.

About the Author:

I wrote this short story as an assignment last year during my second semester of 8th grade. Our assignment was to write about the life of a dollar bill. So I sat at my computer, hoping for some sort of inspiration that would get me an A. And this is the result. When I was finished I was quite proud of my work. I showed my mother who, being a mother, cried because it was, "so good!" Not too long after I discovered that our very own Pastor Paul Monson was to be retiring. There was to be a "farewell" party for him and my mother wondered if I would like to read the story at the party. I was reluctant, thinking that it wouldn't be very successful. However, when I agreed and read the story, many liked it very much. So, here we are.

I used my experience at the hockey arena (and all those Swedish Fish) and Caribou as events through the dollar bill's life. Then, I used my experiences at The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd as the ending, yet only the beginning, of the dollar bill's life. I hope all who read it enjoy, and pass it onto others.

Erika Thiede


Erika Thiede is a member of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Minneapolis, MN who wrote this story for an 8th grade school assignment.

Author information was updated as of the article's post date. Author profiles may not reflect author's current employment or location.

Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa ( via Flickr. Used by permission.

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