Story of the Day: Man Damages $20 Bill to Show How People Really Are
An inspirational speaker showed an unhappy woman her own true worth using one old, crumpled dollar bill, and he changed her life.
I was living through one of the worse periods of my life. My husband had left me, I was working a dead-end job to put food on the table for my children and my self-esteem was at an all-time low.
Not that it had ever been particularly high. My mother was a harsh woman, who was more comfortable with criticism than with praise. I'd grown up seeing myself as worthless, and not quite good enough. But that all changed, thanks to a $20 bill.
I received a call from an old friend, asking me how I was and I suppose she must have picked up from my tone of voice just exactly how bad things were. She asked me if I wanted to go with her to a one-day seminar in a neighboring town.
I told her immediately that I couldn't. I had the children, housework...A dozen quick excuses came to my lips. I didn't want to go anywhere, see anyone, or have anyone see me.
But my friend Angela wouldn't give up. She arranged for her teenage daughter to babysit my kids, and on Saturday morning she was at my door to sweep me away to the seminar.
I admit I was nervous. I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror in the lobby of the conference center and cringed. Was that me? That defeated-looking woman? Angela and I took our places and waited for it all to begin.
The lights dimmed and a tall man in a dapper suit walked onto the stage. He was holding a microphone in one hand and a crisp new $20 bill in the other. Without preamble, he asked: "Who wants this $20 dollar bill?"
Most of the audience raised their hands eagerly. The man smiled. Then he crumpled up the bill in his hand. "Does anyone still want this $20 bill?" he asked. And again, most of the audience indicated that they did.
Now the man threw the crumpled $20 bill onto the ground and stepped on it. He proceeded to grind the bill into the ground and when he picked it up and unfolded it, it was a sorry sight.
The once crisp bill was crumpled and dirty, and the man held up again. "So now, does anyone still want this $20 bill?"
And once again, most of the audience raised their hands. The man smiled and delivered one of the greatest lessons of my life.
He said: "No matter what I did to this $20 bill, you still wanted it because it did not lose its value. We too have been crumpled up, ground down, and stepped on, just like this $20 bill."
He shook his head. "What we all forget is that no matter what happens to us, what our good or bad decisions bring us to, or how others treat us, our value is unchanged. Just like the $20 bill."
I was stunned by that man's simple words, and suddenly I could see my whole life in perspective. I had been hurt and treated badly by my husband and my mother, and I had believed myself to be worthless.
But now I could see that the bright, pretty, loving girl I'd been was still here, in me, and worthy of love. I didn't need other people to show me how valuable I was. My worth is part of me, and I will never let anyone debase me again.
I walked out of that seminary with my head held high, and a new sense of my worth. As we reached the car I threw my arms around Angela and hugged her. "Thank you," I whispered, "I needed to hear that!"
Angela smiled: "I know how extraordinary you are, but you needed to come to that realization by yourself. It's time you knew your own worth."
I've never forgotten that afternoon, or the image of that crumpled, dirty $20 bill that had so recently been spotless and crisp. Now when I look in the mirror I see the creases, the wear, and tear of life, that's true. But I also see my intrinsic worth shining through, and I'm pure gold.
Any resemblance in this story to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a wealthy man who discovers the true meaning of the quality of life from a poor fisherman.