There are days when money flies out the door. Especially now that inflation is forcing us to pay more for many of our daily groceries. But sometimes money flies the other way.
In the days of the guilder, it wasn’t much different. Even then there were some periods where we as a family business had a pretty hard time. All the more so because some of the products we sold were pure luxury, and with a hand on the purse strings in those days many of our customers only walked in for the essentials. Fortunately, those sales turned out to be enough to survive.
There was one day when the tide seemed to turn very briefly. A customer came in on Friday to buy a television, a beautiful model that boosted our coffers. He paid cash with 1000 guilder bills. But at that moment our cash had just been deposited at the bank and we did not have enough change to pay the amount. Oh yes, debit cards were not yet available.
Fortunately, the solution was close at hand. The bank around the corner would surely be willing to help us out. I walked quickly in that direction to exchange the 1000 guilder bill for ten 100 guilder bills. The man in the bank recognized me and quickly opened a drawer and began counting the bills for me. Ten snips against the receipt of a green bill with the portrait of Baruch Spinoza on the front.
After receiving it, I walked out the door counting everything. But at the front door I turned and walked back. I tapped gently on the glass and then said “I think I just received 1100 Guilders from you. He looked at me in surprise and said, ‘That’s impossible! I just counted it in front of you’. Ok, but even then I thought I saw that he counted two closely stuck bills as one. But he stuck to his story. Ten pieces is 10 pieces. He himself seemed a bit irritated by the whole situation.
I turned around and said “Ok, I’m going back quickly now because the customer is waiting for me, but in case you unexpectedly find a shortage of 100 Guilders tonight, we are waiting for you around the corner. Goodbye and thanks for the service!
His boss who had been listening in on everything in the background flew after me and before I reached the door he kindly asked me if I would count the bills for him one more time. I had been given 1100 Guilders. ‘May I have that one back from you? ‘. But of course, I had already told him so’. He took it gratefully, turned and walked straight towards the colleague. I quickly returned to bring the customer his change. The story was shared over coffee, hot chocolate and a cookie.
Less than an hour later, the front door popped open and a farmer walked in. He too wanted to buy a new television. Was the war was over then? Or had everyone hoarded their money? He bought the same model as its predecessor. A Sony Trinitron anniversary model. A television with a beautiful picture, stereo sound, teletext and a remote control. And this television too, was paid for in cash on the counter.
He started counting with 100 Guilder bills. From one to the price for which I had sold the set. But….he too, like the bank teller, had put down one bill too many. I saw it clearly, but he too, like his predecessor, had placed that sticky brown bill right in front of me and counted it as a 100 Guilder bill. For a moment I could not believe my eyes.
I politely pointed out the extra bill to him and he responded, “Listen carefully! I counted everything, together with my old mother. Here is the whole amount and not a penny too much’.
I picked up all the bills and said, ‘I trust You, but I’m going to count it just to be sure if You let me’. Well, sure enough he wanted to. Then I just had to apologize.
It was not to be denied by him, however, when right in front of him I had counted all the bills, laid them side by side, together with the one bill too many in my hand. That one, however, was snatched from my hand very quickly. ‘Thank you boy! Good seeing! Sorry, I was wrong. But when will you bring my new television?’
‘You will get water on the wine’ I said, I’m going to get a box from the warehouse right away and then I’ll come and bring it. But I’ll come with one box, not two. He could really appreciate that joke after I offered him another cup of coffee with cake. That evening the crisis seemed over for a moment.