What started out as a tour guide's harmless prank ended with a trip to the country jail, and a story that Mike Bolesta would never forget.
It all started when Bolesta's son had a stereo installed in his car at Best Buy. After some trouble with the unit, Bolesta was told he wouldn't have to pay for the stereo's installation. But just days later, he got a call from the retailer threatening he would be arrested if he didn't pay the installation fee after all.
Bolesta was obviously upset, and decided to get back at the store while still paying the fine by covering the entire $114 total with 57 $2 bills. You may remember we've mentioned these strange bills before. While they're legal U.S. currency, the bills have become rare since the 1960s. But Bolesta always has a few on hand because of his job.
He runs a bus tours company, and hands out $2 bills to the kids on his tours as a special treat. Bolesta gets a steady supply of the bills from his local bank, so he had enough on hand to pay the fee at Best Buy.
But from the moment he arrived in the store, nothing went according to plan for Bolesta. The cashier refused to accept his bills, so he told her "If you don’t, I’m leaving. I’ve tried to pay my bill twice. You don’t want these bills, you can sue me."
Instead, the employees had him arrested.
The cashier eventually took the bills, but Bolesta noticed she was marking each one with a pen.
The tour guide could probably sense things weren't going his way, and assured the cashier the bills were legal, but the next thing he knew a security guard was handcuffing him and leading him out of the store.
Best Buy employees were suspicious of the cash because they hadn't seen $2 bills before, the ink on a few bills was a little smeared, and because the money was in sequential order. But that was only because Bolesta had recently taken the bills out of the bank.
But no matter what he said, the Baltimore police wouldn't listen. Bolesta found himself chained to a pole in the Baltimore County Lockup for 3 hours, until a Secret Service agent cleared things up and he was set free.
“I am 6 feet 5 inches tall, and I felt like 8 inches high. To be handcuffed, to have all those people looking on, to be cuffed to a pole – and to know you haven’t done anything wrong. And me, with a brother, Joe, who spent 33 years on the city police force. It was humiliating," Bolesta remembers.
It's an embarrassing mistake for sure, but a spokesman for the police department says it's just "a sign that we're all a little nervous in the post-9/11 world."
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