Throwing stars, bath salts and $368 billion


Have you ever found yourself behind THAT person in line?

You know, the one who argues with the cashier over the cost of each of the 926 items in his or her cart? Or the one who decides to pay with exact change, and spends 15 minutes searching pockets and socks, only to come up 26 cents short? Or the one who tries to cash a check at the bank for $368 billion?

Come on. We’ve all been there.

A recent story in the Jacksonville Sun Times explained that Jeff Waters walked into a Jacksonville Bank of America and tried to cash the check in question. Obviously, they had a query or two for the man with the check from U.S. Bank of Idaho that was reportedly issued in the 1990s. And his explanation sounds fairly reasonable to me.

According to the article, Waters told the bank that he had purchased the check from a homeless man named Tito Watts, who in turn told Waters that the check would clear for any amount he made it out for if he gave him $100.

Perfectly plausible, right?

Obviously, looking back on it, one has to wonder why Watts didn’t just take his miracle check to the bank and write it out for, say, $368 billion, instead of selling it for $100, but that’s using the benefit of hindsight. We all would go back and change some of our decisions in life if we had that handy tool at our disposal.

Of course, there’s a chance Waters was simply too blinded by his aspirations and plans to think about any kind of pesty logic. According to the article, Waters told police he is a man with a dynamic plan.

“It’s always been my dream to own the best Italian restaurant on earth,” he said. “I’m 10 percent Italian. Cooking authentic Italian food is in my blood. I had planned to make the restaurant 80 million square feet and able to accommodated (sic) 30 million eaters at once, plus it was going to be totally underwater so people could look at the sharks while they ate. But the bank wouldn’t give me my money they owed me. Tito said the check was good for any amount I wanted to write it for. So blame Tito, not me. I’m as innocent as a schoolgirl.”

Before we continue, let’s just take a minute to reflect on what could have been with this restaurant. My man was going to open a restaurant that would allow me and 29,999,999 of my closest friends and relatives to hang out with Sponge Bob and eat pasta while watching sharks swim by between each bite.

I’m honestly not trying to pick on Waters here. My first reaction while reading the article was to feel sympathy toward him, as I personally feel that one of our biggest internal problems in this country is our inability to properly diagnose and treat mental health issues.

I believe much of our homeless population is in that position because they suffer from mental health diseases, as opposed to being too lazy to work; that a lot of drug addictions begin because of people trying to self-medicate away their depression and that our veterans often return home with demons and memories firmly rooted in their psyche that can’t just be “talked out” with a loved one or eliminated with pills. And though we’ve begun to learn more about how mental health can affect so many of us, there is still a stigma attached to it, and many people will not seek help because of that.

But I admit I was entertained by this story — both by the figure he made the check out for, and his elaborate plans on how to spend the money. As I continued to read further, another little nugget made its way into the article. Police reportedly found bath salts and Chinese throwing stars on his person.

This dude obviously came to party.

So, in addition to the forgery charges Waters was facing because of the check-cashing attempt, he was also tagged with charges for the bath salts and throwing stars. It all seems a bit much for a guy who...

Ha! His name is “Waters” and he wanted to open an underwater Italian restaurant. That’s like a guy named “Baker” opening a pastry shop or someone named “Bass” starting a tackle shop or a woman named “Sue” opening a law firm or a guy named “Peter” opening...

But I digress.

Minus the ninja equipment and cannibalism-causing bath salts, you have to believe Waters’ actions were pretty harmless. Obviously, the bank was not going to give him $368 billion in cash for his check, even if it turned out that Watts had that much money in the bank because he was, well, China.

Hopefully, Waters will get the help he needs — either for drug addiction or mental illness. But he won’t be getting that help in jail anytime soon. He was released after posting a $23,000 bail payment.

I think it was a check.