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The Idle American
"Show Us the Money..."
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 • Posted April 11, 2013

Riney Jordan, a fellow speaker who has addressed a few thousand audiences for a quarter-century, varies from the script occasionally—often in the “getting to” or “getting from” engagements.

We chat occasionally, often with “can you top this” conversation starters. He usually comes out on top.

Readers who make it to the end of this piece will agree he’s done so again. This time, I’m glad…


We have much in common. Our beginnings were humbler than Abe Lincoln’s. His dad drove a garbage truck; mine early on was a school handyman. We both practice depression-engrained frugality, mine perhaps deeper because I’m a half-decade older. We both “out-married” ourselves, have three children and were career educators. Natives of Brown County, we both attended Howard Payne University. During college, each had part-time jobs on radio stations.

In retirement, we both continue to speak—before live audiences, our wives and fence posts.

Riney and I WILL be heard….


He guffawed when I told him about a kind railroad porter who told me to sleep as long as I’d like in Topeka, KS, where I had an evening speaking engagement. “We’re turning your sleeping car loose on a side track there,” he laughed. (Surprised I was the only passenger in the Pullman car, I waked in the early afternoon, ordered a pizza and laughed when the delivery kid biked away, muttering “That’s the first time I ever delivered a pizza to a train car!”)

I had a hard time convincing him that during remarks at a long-ago church service, an elderly lady fell forward in her pew, breathing her last.

He called later to admit that he called a mutual friend to make sure I wasn’t telling an April Fool’s joke. Riney added, “I understand her death was not TOTALLY ATTRIBUTED to anything YOU said!”….


I elevate the white flag of surrender at this time, cutting the rope. It is permanently hoisted. With his recent experience, Riney wins. Experiences—for speakers or others—get no weirder.

While I take no delight in stories of bathroom humor, sometimes—when armed with irrefutable facts— the temptation is too great. This is such a time.

Before speaking, Riney ducked into a dimly-lighted necessary room. Its appointments were few—a commode, lavatory and towel dispenser….


Afloat in the only porcelain object holding water were several bills of U.S. currency! In a flash, Riney scooped them up, his mind racing. Maybe they’d be big bills! (Remember, we are products of the depression. In our youth, we’d have swum moats to extract pennies from the bottom.)

He washed each bill in the lavatory before drying them between layers of paper towels—all $5 worth of them.

Yeah, they were all ones….


Sweat broke out. Was he on candid camera? Was a video of his “deed of greed” already racing across the Internet? Was it something his sweet wife, Karen, had set up? Should he tell her?

Well, he still doesn’t know if he was set up or if his “money scoop” indeed goes viral.

But he did tell Karen, and she told me….


True confessions help souls, we are taught.

I admitted to Karen that something similar happened to me once—right after I got my tri-focals. And for me, the room was well-lighted. (Show me a man with his head held high, and I’ll show you one not used to his tri-focals.)

My “scoop,” however, netted but two bills—both play money….


I’ve ribbed Riney about his “find.” We’ve joked about his “liquid assets” and this new meaning for “money laundering.” Was this the ultimate “pay toilet?” We really DON’T know where that money’s been!

He put the five ones in a special envelope, intent on using them to pay bills he thinks are excessive.

Folks at the tax office, beware!...


So there—funny truths are better than made-up stuff. Some of ‘em can be better appreciated on life’s downhill side.

Riney wins the all-time distinction for stories that wouldn’t stand a chance of acceptance without a wife’s verification.

We remain good friends—nothing he wouldn’t do for me and nothing I wouldn’t do for him. Consequently, we do little for each other….


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speaking inquiries/comments: Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site:

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