On Mr VOW’s last tour of Germany (he’s retired US Army), we were in that really really tight period before I could find a job. Military spouses know what I’m talking about!
It was before we were able to get quarters, so we lived in a German apartment “on the economy.” That meant all rent and expenses had to be paid in German Deutschemarks. There are two places you can buy a quantity of marks with a US check, drawn on a Stateside bank: the American Express bank on post, or Army finance. Both places are an unholy madhouse on payday, with everybody in the Universe trying to get money to pay bills, eat, go out, etc, etc.
Mr VOW chose Finance, which was located on the third floor, with an enormous staircase packed with peoplepeoplepeople. Now he had his check and a note on how to divide up the money. By the time he got to the head of the line, he was exhausted and the people behind the counter were completely frazzled. He handed the clerk the check, stated his wishes of how many US dollars, and how many US dollars’ worth of Deutschemarks. (the exchange rate for marks changed daily) He grabbed his monies and got the Hell out of there.
At home, he just handed me all the wadded up money. I separated everything, and counted it. And then I started to cry.
He had about double the amount of marks than what he paid for. I was crying because we needed the money so BAD, but it clearly wasn’t ours. He put his arms around me, and said he knew, and he’d be making another trip to Finance the next day.
And he did. He talked to the supervisor, who used the calculator to figure out the amount in dollars at the previous day’s exchange rate. And he said that was almost exactly the shortage the frazzled clerk had. He brought Mr VOW to a back office where the clerk had been banished, and told her this guy had taken the time to return his overpayment. She got up from behind her desk and wrung his hand in thanks, while shedding more than a few tears.
She would have had to pay the money back out of her own pocket.