Do you handle money in your job?

Are you, for example, a cashier or a checkout clerk?

If you answer "Yes," I have some advice for you.

Be on guard against the moneyswitching scam. If you don't have your wits about you, your register is going to be short about $19, and your boss is going to hold you responsible for the shortage.

The money-switch works like this: The con artist buys a low-price item (for example, a cup of coffee or a soft drink), and pays with a $20 bill.

The cashiner begins counting out $19 plus some silver in change, and after this money is on the counter the con says, "Oh, excuse me, I meant to pay for the drink with this, instead of with the twenty. Give me back the twenty and take it out of this."

He puts a crumple or rolled up greenback on the counter.

While the cashier is smoothing out the rolled up bill to find out what denomination it is, the hand and tongue become quicker than the eye. The substitute bill turns out to be a single, but the thief has already pocketed both the change for his twenty and the twenty itself, and by the time the cashier can say, "Hey, wait a minute," he is gone - or she is gone - and so is $19 in "change."

At this season of the year, many young people hold jobs. They are especially vulnerable to this ancient money-switching trick, but older cash handlers are also created with distressing frequency.

Whatever your age, if you handle money and deal with the public, heed this reminder: As soon as a customer begins switching from one piece of currency to another, let the alarm bells begin ringing in your mind.

The switching may be innocent, in rare cases, but the odds are that you are in the process of being shorn.

Your best defense is to put the customer's twenty on the ledge of your cash register and keep it there until you understand exactly what all the hocus-pocus is about.

Q & A

Thomas W. Cotton Jr. writes:

"Do you have any rational reason why we should not consider the sun to be our God?

"Our sun is the controller/governor of everything in our solar system. Nearly all of our energy comes from our sun.

"We have evidence for this, and anything else contrary to this is unsubstantiated conjectural hypocrisy of the first water - and we should not believe it. Please give me a direct answer to my direct question."

Sorry, Tom. I am not an expert on God or on any other subject except how to make a living without a lot of physical effort or heavy lifting.

If you want to believe that "our sun" is God, that's fine with me. However, your premise suggests that the millions of other suns that exist are also gods to the people who are sustained by their energy, and I find it difficult to adjust to this concept of millions of lower-case gods.

When I am told that the solar system was created by a Big Bang, not by God, I have to wonder what caused the big bang and what was the origin of the material that exploded. When I am told about amino acids and DNA and lightning, I must ask where these things came from. What brought them into being?

In short, I'll be glad to stop believing in unsubstantiated conjectural hypocrisy of the first water just as soon as somebody explains what the hydrogen and oxygen in that first water were created from.

Why do the elements exist? Why does anything exist? When one traces the antecedents of all matter to the very beginning, does he discover what was the antecedent of the antecedents? Was it the relatively puny sun in our solar system?

When our sun finally burns itself out, will that be the end of the cosmos? Will God be dead?

What a pity!


Colleague Jack Eisen tells me the special study commission that is wrestling with condominium conversion problems in the District of Columbia has produced the niftiest acronym of the year.

It has a subcommittee called the Tenants-Buyer Assistance Group.Insiders know it as "T-Bag."


David Rosoff of Springfield thinks one of Bob Orben's best quips is:

"If God had really wanted us to have enough oil, He never would have given us a Department of Energy."

David, that was not meant to be funny. Orben was in dead earnest when he said it.


Minority group: Those whom President Carter hasn't asked for advice since July 1.