Easy Money

I was a bank teller in Korea Town in Los Angeles way back when, which is where I learned how to say “Na neun se sangh ih suh ka jhang tung tung han salam imnida.” I’m sure the spelling is atrocious, but phonetically, that’s Korean for “I am the fattest man in the world.”

One of the things we tellers did to pass the time was figure out ways to embezzle money. For those of you FBI agents reading this blog, please keep in mind that figuring out ways to embezzle money is markedly different from actually embezzling money, which is not something we did. (Not something I did, anyway. I can’t speak for everyone, especially not Slippery Pete.)

Robbing a bank, for instance, is a pretty crappy way to get ill-gotten gains. In the first place, we were instructed to fully comply with any robber’s demands, whether they had a gun or not. As such, we were only allowed to keep $2,500 in cash in our drawer at any given time, including a dye pack which exploded upon leaving the bank. So anyone who walks up to a teller window and says “Gimme all your cash” isn’t going to get enough to justify the legal headaches and the lengthy prison sentence.

A bank takeover is far more profitable and far more logistically nightmarish. You’ve got to have a lot of people to hold hostages, blow safes, and move mounds of cash. And how are you going to get all the money out of the building with all the people and avoid getting caught? On average, your average Wells Fargo branch back in my day had about $400,000 cash on any given day. If you’ve got a group of, say, eight guys to get all the money, you’re only hauling in fifty grand or so – not bad for a dishonest day’s work, but probably also not worth the subsequent internment and complete and utter ostracization from civilized society.

No, the way to steal money is electronically, and we have to be talking hundreds of millions of dollars before it even begins to get interesting.

The problem there, though, is that electronic transactions are almost always reversible, so the only way to make it work is to hack into the system, get the billion dollars, and then trade it out for cash. But who’s going to cash you out for a billion dollars? Is there even a billion dollars in cash anywhere in the world?

It’s all problematic.

In my estimation, even having a billion dollars that you’ve come by legally ultimately creates problems. It’s pretty hard to have a billion dollars and not have everyone in the world know you have a billion dollars. Certainly the tax man’s gonna hit you up for at least half of it, and then every 501 (c) (3) on earth is going to tell you a sob story to get you to donate. Save the whales! Feed the children! Slaughter cats! Now that’s something I’d pay for.

No, the secret to lifelong happiness is to have an offshore oil rig hidden in the territorial waters of a tax shelter in the Caribbean. You have billions that you can donate anonymously or squander at your leisure, and you can use the rest to screw over the little guy every chance you get. Then I can finally pay someone to fix my toilets and mow my lawn. And cook my meals and do my dishes and fold my clothes. And to exercise for me.

Maybe I should just do hard drugs instead.

I stole the name “Slippery Pete” from Seinfeld.

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