The Taco Bell $2 Bill Story

Update: This story won’t go away. In honor of The $2 Bill Documentary being released, I am re-publishing this here on the blog with the original publication date (nothing goes away once it’s on the internet). I wrote this little ditty back in 1993 about a customer service experience I had. I wrote it and originally posted it on a few usenet newsgroups (alt.prose , then others) from my nyx account in Denver, and it went crazy. Boing Boing published it (thanks Mark!), lots of other people claimed they wrote it, and it made me mildly famous. Since I haven’t done anything else to make me mildy more famous since then, I’m pathetically keeping this around forever, I guess. Also, watch the documentary when it come out, it’s pretty interesting. (This does have a few corrections vs. the original, a link to the original text is at the bottom.)


On my way home from the second job I’ve taken for the extra holiday ca$h I need, I stop at Taco Bell for a quick bite to eat. In my billfold is a $50 bill and a $2 bill. I figure that with a $2 bill, I can get something to eat and not have to worry about people getting pissed at me for trying to break a large bill.

ME: “Hi, I’d like one seven layer burrito please, to go.”

HE: “Is that it?”

ME: “Yep.”

HE: “That’ll be $1.04, eat here?”

ME: “No, it’s to go.” [I hate effort duplication.]


At this point I open my billfold and hand him the $2 bill. He looks at it kind of funny and

HE: “Uh, hang on a sec, I’ll be right back.”


He goes to talk to his manager, who is still within earshot. The following conversation occurs between the two of them.

HE: “Hey, you ever see a $2 bill?”

MG: “No. A what?”

HE: “A $2 bill. This guy just gave it to me.”

MG: “Ask for something else, there’s no such thing as a $2 bill.” [my emp]

HE: “Yeah, thought so.”

He comes back to me and says

HE: “We don’t take these. Do you have anything else?”

ME: “Just this fifty. You don’t take $2 bills? Why?”

HE: “I don’t know.”

ME: “See here where it says legal tender?”

HE: “Yeah.”

ME: “So, shouldn’t you take it?”

HE: “Well, hang on a sec.”


He goes back to his manager who is watching me like I’m going to shoplift, and

HE: “He says I have to take it.”

MG: “Doesn’t he have anything else?”

HE: “Yeah, a fifty. I’ll get it and you can open the safe and get change.”

MG: “I’m not opening the safe with him in here.” [my emp]

HE: “What should I do?”

MG: “Tell him to come back later when he has real money.”

HE: “I can’t tell him that, you tell him.”

MG: “Just tell him.”

HE: “No way, this is weird, I’m going in back.”


The manager approaches me and says

MG: “Sorry, we don’t take big bills this time of night.” [it was 8pm and this particular Taco Bell is in a well lighted indoor mall with 100 other stores.]

ME: “Well, here’s a two.”

MG: “We don’t take those either.”

ME: “Why the hell not?”

MG: “I think you know why.”

ME: “No really, tell me, why?”

MG: “Please leave before I call mall security.”

ME: “Excuse me?

MG: “Please leave before I call mall security.”

ME: “What the hell for?”

MG: “Please, sir.”

ME: “Uh, go ahead, call them.”

MG: “Would you please just leave?”

ME: “No.”

MG: “Fine, have it your way then.”

ME: “No, that’s Burger King, isn’t it?”


At this point he backs away from me and calls mall security on the phone around the corner. I have two people staring at me from the dining area, and I begin laughing out loud, just for effect. A few minutes later this 45 year oldish guy comes in and says [at the other end of counter, in a whisper]

SG: “Yeah, Mike, what’s up?”

MG: “This guy is trying to give me some [pause] funny money.”

SG: “Really? What?”

MG: “Get this, a two dollar bill.”

SG: “Why would a guy fake a $2 bill?” [incredulous]

MG: “I don’t know? He’s kinda weird. Says the only other thing he has is a fifty.”

SG: “So, the fifty’s fake?”

MG: “No, the $2 is.”

SG: “Why would he fake a $2 bill?”

MG: “I don’t know. Can you talk to him, and get him out of here?”

SG: “Yeah…”


Security Guard walks over to me and says

SG: “Mike here tells me you have some fake bills you’re trying to use.”

ME: “Uh, no.”

SG: “Lemme see ’em.”

ME: “Why?”

SG: “Do you want me to get the cops in here?”

At this point I am ready to say, “SURE, PLEASE,” but I want to eat, so I say

ME: “I’m just trying to buy a burrito and pay for it with this $2 bill.”


I put the bill up near his face, and he flinches like I’m taking a swing at him. He takes the bill, turns it over a few times in his hands, and says

SG: “Mike, what’s wrong with this bill?”

MG: “It’s fake.”

SG: “It doesn’t look fake to me.”

MG: “But it’s a $2 bill.”

SG: “Yeah?”

MG: “Well, there’s no such thing, is there?”


The security guard and I both look at him like he’s an idiot, and it dawns on the guy that he has no clue.

My burrito was free and he threw in a small drink and those cinnamon things, too. Makes me want to get a whole stack of $2 bills just to see what happens when I try to buy stuff. If I got the right group of people, I could probably end up in jail. At least you get free food.




Some people question whether I was the author of this bit of writing. Also when I was contacted by the nice guy with the good sense of humor working on The $2 Bill Documentary, he wanted enough information to feel good that I was the author, so I did this research. so I’m putting it here.

One of the people that tried taking credit for it later (Peter Leppik, etc.) probably sent a delete on the original article, but here’s the earliest posting in the usenet archive that I can find referencing my post in the google usenet archive. (check the date and email address)

And here are people chastising me for making fun of people’s intelligence (check the email address again). I did title the post “Taco Bell and IQ” so I was asking for that, I suppose:

Peter Leppik’s post doesn’t show up for a while after this. Boing Boing had already run it by then as “anonymously posted to the internet” but then I contacted Mark Frauenfelder and he published a correction and sent me a Boing Boing t-shirt, so this was also an early example of not getting paid for your writing for an internet publication, before it was an online publication but just about the internet.

Watch the documentary to find out if it’s a true story.

Taco Bell restaurant nighttime image by Anthony92931.

Kurt Koller Written by:

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