Just before departing for Paris, I went up to the bureau drawer and found, to my surprise, a stash of unused euros. Wow, all of a sudden I am getting a few free days eating, I thought. The prospect of the trip brightened, as paying $8 for a small block of dry goat cheese no longer seemed so outrageous.
I stuffed the money into my pocket — or so I thought — and headed off to the cab. After paying the cabbie at Dulles, he gave me a big smile and said “Thank you sir for the very nice tip,” with an accent I could not quite trace.
Half an hour later, in the airport, it occurred to me that my tip wasn’t that unusually large. What was he talking about with those profuse thanks? And suddenly I could not find those euros in my pocket. They must have fallen out in the cab, perhaps while I turned around to close the distant rear window so I could hear the person calling me on the phone. Ah, so that was the very nice tip the cabbie was talking about. Very nice indeed.
While feeling vaguely (and unintentionally) charitable, I was mortified as well. Yes, I could afford that loss, but how unreliable my systems must be. What else was going to go wrong? (And I wondered whether, morally, the cabbie had in fact asked for and received my permission to keep such a nice, large tip. Perhaps he felt the need to mention the tip to avoid highly negative consequences in some future world to come.)
Upon arrival in France, I then had to withdraw an equivalent amount of euros from the Parisian ATM. Every time I spent that money I felt like I was losing it twice. It reminded me of the first loss of the euros in the cab, and then I had to pay for everything yet again. That block of goat cheese now felt like buying a diamond, and I hoped all the more that something good would come of my unintended charity.
Finally, Natasha told me that I had left a large stash on euros on the kitchen counter before departing.
But was I relieved? Not really, in fact I now felt worse yet. All that worry and psychic trouble and loss of confidence in my own economic rationality…and for what? Furthermore — and indeed worst of all — I had forgotten to take those euros with me and thus missed out on a lot of free Parisian food!
The goat cheese now seemed three times as expensive.
So how will it feel when I, during my next trip, finally end up spending those euros?
I now know how to lose a bundle of euros three times, is there any comparable algorithm for spending it multiple times?
Addendum: I learned this morning that in fact Natasha has spent the euros.