Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Hundred Ringgit

This is a story about an interesting friend. I'll just refer him as KL. KL went up to Genting Highlands for a business meeting for the entire day. After the long tiring day, he hired a taxi to send him home that night. The night was deepening and the road downhill was winding.

Upon reaching his house, he started emptying his pockets when he discovered a single RM100 note from his pocket. This surprised him because he couldn't remember when he last had a RM100 note since most banks dispense RM50 notes. He sat down, furiously trying to recall his transactions over the past couple of days and in rising panic, couldn't find an instance when he had come into possession of such a big note.

Now, Genting Highlands is famous for their casinos in Malaysia and is also famous for having lots of undesirable "spirits" to make people lose their senses and gamble away. KL declares he is "not superstitious" but at that very moment, fear gripped his heart as he sat alone in his empty house, wondering how the money, which obviously did not belong to him, appeared on him.

In a stroke of determination after a very long time pondering, he decided what did not belong to him should be discarded of and the most logical solution that came to his mind at that moment was to burn the note. Rummaging through the kitchen drawers, he found a lighter and headed into his house compound. His neighbour happened to be outside as well and she stared at him holding a RM100 note in one hand and a lighter in the other.

Acting as nonchalantly as possible, he proceeded to water his plants until she went inside. Quickly squatting over a drain, he lit the lighter and held the note over the blazing flame. This is when he discovered that the RM100 note was very difficult to burn. He had to hold the flame to it for a good long time before it finally blackened and even longer time before the flames finally licked the note. As it finally succumbed to the green flames, he watched it turn into a crusty ash. Relief flooded over him and with his task done, he headed back into his house.

As soon as he climbed the stairs, the doorbell rang. This was at 11pm and he certainly was not expecting any guests. Peeking out tentatively, he noticed the familiar red and white colours of a taxi outside his house. As soon as he stepped out and saw the taxi driver who sent him home, everything clicked!

"Aiyoo Uncle! If only you were here 2 minutes ago!"

The taxi man had accidentally given him the RM100 instead of RM10 for change and had come back to claim it. Naturally, he was disbelieving despite being shown the ashes in the drain. In the end, KL gave him RM50 for both their mistakes and the taxi driver walked out of the house in a daze, mumbling, "He burnt it... he ACTUALLY burnt it..."

Relating this tale at a dinner recently, another friend told him 3 lessons:
1. To Chinese, burning real money brings bad luck
2. Burning currency is illegal
3. If you don't want the money, give it to charity or someone else!

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