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OK, this is the tiniest tale ever, and in this case I’m not the one traveling; it involves other travelers in my hometown of Nederland, Colorado (USA).

About 17 years ago, for several years, I used to volunteer at the Nederland Visitor’s Center, a very small building in the middle of my small town (Ned population about 1500 inside town limits). It was pretty interesting to see who came through. We kept a tally sheet of the different states and countries from which visitors came. There were a hugely disproportionate number of visitors from the “real” Nederland, The Netherlands.**

So one day, a foreign visitor stopped in and bought some postcards. He was unsure how to count out the right amount of money and so he opened his hand with a selection of coins in it for me to pick out the correct combination of change. So I was sifting through the coins in this guy’s hand, and I pointed out some unfamiliar ones, saying, “Oh, these aren’t American coins.” I figured he had some from his own country accidentally mixed in.

“What?”

“These aren’t American money.”

“Yes they are!”

I picked one up; I was going to show it to him to prove that it wasn’t.

Now, this was right when the USA was re-minting all their quarters. For twenty-some years I’d been used to our quarters looking a certain way, and they had only one design. Now there are 50 different designs, one for each state. When they first started rolling out the new quarters, I hadn’t acquainted myself with the new designs. So when I went to prove my visitor’s error to him, I instead, to my horror, realized it was one of our new quarters.

Alarmed, I tried to laugh and apologize, attempting to explain the situation, but the man’s English was minimal so I know he didn’t catch it. He just left thinking that Nederland staffs their visitor’s center with the dumbest people on the planet … people who are there to offer information and sell books and postcards, and yet can’t recognize their own nation's money. He must have wondered how on Earth I had gotten along through life all those years without understanding my own country’s currency.

So, I was super embarrassed. The end.

*

 

**Many of them were curious why we are called Nederland, which means “low lands” in Dutch, when our altitude is over 8,200 feet above sea level. We were established as a mining town in the 1800s with a fair-sized population of Dutch ... the mines were 2,000 feet higher at 10,000 feet above sea level, and the processing plants were down in Nederland. So relatively speaking, it was the lower land.

 

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