Have you ever heard of Meetup? Essentially, it’s a website where you can join various groups of like minded people in your area. Say you like hiking. You can go to the website, join a hiking group, and meetup to hike various trails in your area. Well, I like museums so a few years ago I joined a local group for museum enthusiasts. I would look at the various excursions and think they sounded fun but could never get myself to actually go. I was not a very good member. So, one day I said “no more! I will join an excursion! I will, as they say, meet up!” And dear readers, I stayed true to that resolution. For soon came an excursion I could not decline, a tour of the Federal Reserve.
Now, don’t be disappointed. I know it sounds like a let down. A government building, snooze. But, when I heard about the tour, I had no idea there was a federal reserve bank in Los Angeles. I especially didn’t know they give tours. And I’m a total sucker when it comes to learning how things work. I love factory tours. Seriously go on one sometime, they’re fun. Plus there’s samples!
Anyway, I signed up for the tour. Now, the tour is only available to large groups, you can’t sign up as an individual (hence, the meetup group). The Fed is also very strict with security. The tour could be cancelled at any time. When we showed up we had to go through a security check just like at the airport. They then took our phones, purses, cameras, etc. and locked them up. We also had a police escort the entire time.
We were shown the area where the money is first received from the banks. Holy Moly! There were large bins full of stacks and stacks of cash. Ones, Tens, Twenty’s, Hundreds…When we counted, each bin held millions of dollars. There were also several coin bags. Guess what? Money does come in a large canvas sack. Just like in those old time movies (minus the large dollar sign on the side).
After that we were shown the vault. It was a huge room with hundreds of the large bins we saw earlier. Yowza! I saw with my own eyes billions of dollars in cash. The smell alone was insane. You know how money smells? Times it by billions and the odor is overwhelming.
Then we were shown where they count the money. They count it entirely by hand. Just kidding. Essentially it’s a large machine that the employee feeds money into. The machine will count the money and remove any old, (potentially) counterfeit, and incorrect bills. The old money is then pulled from circulation and shredded. Guess how much money is shredded every day (in LA alone). $11 Million Dollars. Crazy, huh?
The last part of the tour was a small, interactive exhibit about money and the federal reserve. We were able to see some rare Civil War currency as well as crazy high bills (like the $1000 bill).
Now I just need to get some glue.
And be sure to grab a copy of this up to date comic when you go.