Content warning: blood
The first half of my opening shift at the fuel center was fairly slow, but around noon things really picked up. I’d gotten up at 4:15 so I could open the place at 6am, and I was really tired. I couldn’t wait for my coworker to arrive at 1pm so I could complete my restocking mission and clock out.
At about 12:45 a man came up to the window and said he wanted to put $11 on pump 6. He also asked if I had a paper towel. I didn’t think to tell him there were paper towels outside at the windshield washing stations. I just ran to the back of the kiosk and grabbed a couple of paper towels for him. I shoved them into the drawer and sent them out to him.
When I pulled the drawer back in and picked up his money, I understood
why he needed a paper towel. Several of the eleven $1 bills he’d put in the drawer for payment had bright red blood on them. The blood was neither smeared nor splattered; the customer had somehow bled neatly upon the bills. It seemed as if the blood had soaked into the bills immediately. Even though the money wasn’t dripping blood, it was still really, really, really gross. I’d only thought boob money was bad until I was presented with blood money.
I dropped the bills on the counter, then ran to the back of the kiosk again and grabbed a vinyl glove from the box on the shelf. I put the glove on my right hand before I touched the bloody money again.
I’m not particularly squeamish about blood. I wouldn’t say I’m attracted to it, but neither the thought nor the sight of it makes me feel sick or faint. However, I certainly don’t want to come in contact with a stranger’s blood.
A veteran worker from the supermarket was in the kiosk with me repricing all the merchandise inside. She had just been telling me how much she respected me for being able to handle all the difficult fuel center customers and how she would never make it in the fuel center. I showed her the bloody money and asked her what I should do. She suggested I rub hand sanitizer onto the blood.
It didn’t occur to me at the time not to take the bloody bills. Money’s money, right? It didn’t occur to me until I started working on this post that the bloody money contaminated the drawer, the cash register, and all the bills it touched. If the bleeding customer had any kind of disease, he could have infected me, the coworker who relieved me, the bookkeeper who would count the day’s cash drop the next morning, the bookkeeper at the corporate office who received the money, the banker who eventually received the money…How long do germs from blood live once they hit currency?
I don’t think refusing the money occurred to the supermarket veteran either. She never offered refusal as an option for me. She said I should slap some hand sanitizer on the blood, so I did, then put the bills in the drawer. A few minutes later when my coworker reported for duty, I told him about the bloody (and now also soggy from generous dollops of hand sanitizer) bills. He shook his head.
He must have called management immediately after I left to pull items for our restock because when I returned, the first thing he told me was that management said we did NOT have to accept bloody money if we didn’t want to. Thank goodness for that!
I feel sorry for the customer who was bleeding; I truly do. Who among us has not cut ourselves unexpectedly in a public place and had to staunch the blood flow with limited first aid supplies? However (and that is a BIG however), that man should not have paid with bloody money. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! It is not my job to clean blood off his bills. I’m glad to know my bosses agree with me on that point.
Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-gasoline-dispenser-in-station-1051397/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/1-us-bank-note-47344/, and https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-putting-white-bandage-on-left-hand-1409706/.