Some of us compulsive textual critics have been puzzling over this passage from St. Barack’s Epistle to the Charlestonians:
But here’s what I know. I know that when people say we can’t overcome all the big money and influence in Washington, I think of the elderly woman who sent me a contribution the other day — an envelope that had a money order for $3.01 along with a verse of Scripture tucked inside. So don’t tell us change isn’t possible.
So what was the “verse of Scripture”? A Kossack commenter finds what must surely be the right passage: the parable of the Widow’s Mite (Mark 12:41-44).
And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
Meanwhile, a reader answers my query about the significance of $3.01, which I imagined might point at the verse:
The significance of the amount isn’t a particular verse of scripture. I thought it was an amazingly subtle little joke. If someone buys something for $3.01, you are going to have to make change.
I think my reader is right. But if he is, we need a stronger word than “subtle.”
Another reader prefers the simpler-is-better approach:
Based on absolutely no facts, I’m going to guess that the supermarket where she bought the money order doesn’t sell them for $3 or under.
Second Update (From the department of “duhhhhh….:”):
Another reader provides what must surely be the answer to the puzzle: $3.01 is what you have left when you buy a money order for $5 and the service fee is $1.99.