I used to have the habit of emptying my pockets of loose change and bills onto the kitchen counter with my keys. It was just easier to keep track of where the cash was, and made it less likely to end in up in the washing machine.
Over a period of time I realized that the bills that I put on the counter were disappearing. Initially, I assumed that I had picked it up without thinking about it. After a week or so, I concluded that either my aunt or my roommate was “borrowing” the cash.
I tried to keep track of just how much was disappearing. I asked my aunt if she had been using it for tolls or something. She hadn’t been, in fact, she had noticed that the cash from her bedside bowl had slowly been disappearing, too. She had been meaning to ask me about it.
It became clear that I needed to confront our roommate about the cash. I didn’t want to be a jerk about it, but I was already covering most of the bills and doing all the housework, I really couldn’t stand the idea that he would be stealing from me and my aunt, no matter how small the dollar amount.
He came home from his job at a local bank, and I decided to confront him in my most “diplomatic” way.
“Hey Chris, is everything going ok for you lately?”
“Sure… things are actually pretty good,” he replied.
“So, you’re not having any money problems or anything are you?”
“What do you mean? Are you wanting me to pay more rent?” A slight note of concern was creeping into his voice.
“No, no… nothing like that… I’m just saying, you know if you are having trouble you can just ask and I can try to help you out… If the few dollars that I leave out on the counter could help you out, just ask man.”
“Wait… what are you talking about? Do you have money missing too?” He asked.
“Yeah, I’ve had cash disappear from my bedroom the past several days. I sort of thought you were taking it since I’m not really paying you enough rent or something.”
“Chris, I don’t go in your bedroom. How much are you missing?”
“I don’t know, sixty, seventy bucks.”
“Well I don’t know what to say. I’m sure Celeste isn’t taking it. She has money missing, too.”
We dropped the conversation at that point, and I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely convinced that Chris wasn’t taking the money. I decided the only way to know for sure would be to catch him in the act.
Over the next week, I continued leaving my bills on the counter. Never more than twenty bucks, usually less than ten. I would try to make sure that I stayed awake until Chris got home from his second job at Starbucks so I could confirm the cash was still on the counter when he went to bed.
Every morning, the money would be gone again. He must have been getting up in the night while we slept and helping himself to my pocket money.
I decided that it was time to confront him seriously and give him the ultimatum that he stop stealing my shit or he had to get out.
I sat up late that night, hanging out with a book on the couch. Chris was due home around midnight. Celeste was already in bed. I had told her that I was probably kicking Chris out and she agreed it was the best idea.
Right around 11:45 I heard some rustling in the kitchen. I looked up to see my tabby cat, Zipper, trotting happily out of the dining room with a five dollar bill in her mouth.
I’ll never be sure that we found it all, but the first round of searching turned up $372.
To this day, I can’t leave a dollar bill on the counter. She doesn’t seem to care about denominations. Pity, I could make a killing by taking her with me to visit all my friends.