At the payment counter

There’s nothing called a free lunch in this world. Literally. The meal at my office costs me forty rupees- a subsidized amount, they say. This is India- so we waste paper and pay by cash. I had the exact change today. At different points in my life, I have been surrounded by people who would not give you the balance (i.e. when the person has it) even in exchange for his/her life! (Exaggerated? Reconsider!) Now, when someone actually doesn’t have the change, there is nothing more panicky than to be in a situation where (s)he is asked to pay fifty-three bucks for a burger and (s)he has in the wallet only five-hundred rupee notes, fresh out of the ATM. (S)he would curse the taxation system for the price of the burger culminating into such an incredibly absurd figure. Such a situation is not uncommon; I have seen frowning helpless faces at both ends- the buyer and the seller. Thankfully, I wasn’t in this position today: as I said, for a change, I had change today.
Now that should have made both the guy at the counter (to be read henceforth as “G@C) and me happy (the former should have been elated, in fact). But I handed over a couple of twenty-rupee notes: one impeccable, as if fresh out of the mint and the other tattered, hoping to sneak past a couple of more hands…somehow.
Oh boy, you should have seen the expression of the G@C; it was a mixed response for sure. I had deliberately kept the “old” note underneath the “good” note while handing them over. Obviously, he is an expert when it comes to handling notes- he slid one note over the other and instantly found what was hiding beneath.
G@C gave me a look which clearly said-“Man, I do this every day- you cannot deceive me” but smiled. I must say- he is a courteous gentleman!
He held the “old” note and gently said, “Sir, ye note change kar di jiye”
I knew I had two more twenty-rupee notes (now you know who would die for change) in my wallet which would pass on as “average”. I was sure they were acceptable. I took them out and before handing them over, asked him to return both the notes. He was startled. I saw it in his eyes- he didn’t want to part with the “good” fresh currency note. He only wanted to exchange the “old” note for an “average” one.
What happened next- whether he accepted my offer or kept the earlier notes- is another story. But what would you have done?
Are you willing to part with the “good” because it comes with the “not-so-good”? Or do you want to settle with the safe bet: the “average”?

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