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Aledo Times Record - Aledo, IL
  • Frank Talk: Forging a new identity

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  • I was forced by recent events to take a walk on the wild side.
    My story begins in the gutter, like so many tales of criminality.
    Not some horrible, seamy world where you have to fight to survive and the fight’s never fair.
    I’m referring to the gutter above my two-story home.
    It had come to resemble an open-air terrarium rather than a conduit to deliver excess rainwater back to the earth.
    It hadn’t been cleaned in more than two years and the captured leaves had transmogrified into a wonderfully fecund compost. The vegetation was growing a good foot above the gutter itself.
    I engaged a gutter-cleaning concern to return the gutter to its pristine state.
    The price was $125 and the manner of payment was a money order, enclosed in an envelope and taped to my front door.
    That way I didn’t have to wait around for the crew. They had a busy schedule and weren’t sure when they’d be stopping by other than it would be sometime Friday.
    Except they didn’t show up Friday.
    Or Saturday.
    The money-order envelope waved in the gentle breeze wafting against my front door, but it waved alone.
    I removed it, figuring I would reschedule with the crew.
    I now had a $125 money order made out to the firm, and I wanted that money back.
    I just wasn’t sure how this could be effected without a long drawn-out cancellation and reissuing process.
    I looked into the matter via Google with an eye toward shortening that process dramatically.
    And I found the loophole.
    It seems that you can make a money order out to two parties that can be cashed by either party without risk of the Security and Exchange Commission getting involved.
    The key lies in the simple word, “or.”
    All I’d need to do is insert “or Frank Mulligan” after the name of the gutter firm.
    Then I could present the slightly doctored document to my local bank, convince them that I’m Frank Mulligan (which I figured would be easy), and the cash would be tendered.
    It didn’t seem dishonest. I had purchased the money order in the first place. It was my money. Right?
    I was so sure of my basic rectitude here that I didn’t even bother to fill it out at home. I’d do it at the bank, I thought.
    I was about to apply the bank’s courtesy pen to the money order when I noticed I’d used a blue pen to fill it out. The bank’s pen was black.
    Page 2 of 2 - An alert teller might figure something irregular was going on if the “or Frank Mulligan” was in black ink and everything else was in blue.
    I’d be on my way to the Big House for sure.
    I high-tailed it back to my car and searched in various compartments, as well as underneath the seats, to find a pen with blue ink. It was under the seat, of course.
    I hoped that my furtive behavior would not attract notice.
    A lot of these parking lots are under videotape surveillance, you know.
    I shakily added the “or Frank Mulligan,” and appeared before the teller, trying to look nonchalant.
    He called over the manager and they conferred.
    I was ready at any moment to be ordered to drop to the floor, hands behind my back.
    Instead, they recommended I simply deposit the money order.
    I was in the clear.
    My only worry now, though, is I may be addicted to the career criminal’s adrenaline rush.
    ——
    Wareham (Massachusetts) Courier editor Frank Mulligan can be reached at fmulligan@wickedlocal.com.

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