NORTHAMPTON – Just after 5 p.m. on Thursday, Paul Vidich, 28, of Williamsburg, walked into the Northampton intersection of Main Street and Pleasant Street and tossed his most recent paycheck–all $389 of it–into the air.
The money, which Vidich had recently withdrawn from Florence Savings Bank in the form of hundreds of $1 dollar bills, plumed out across the busy downtown crossing. As bills cascaded down into the street, a crowd of people scrambled into the intersection after the loose change, grabbing handfuls of money as they went.
Vidich, who stood on the street corner laughing at the spectacle, said he wasn’t quite sure why he felt the need to rid himself of the money but that he had thoroughly enjoyed it.
“It felt really good,” Vidich said. “I guess what was nicest about it was that I was extremely present, I was extremely “there” for the experience and it was really simple and beautiful and joyful.”
Vidich said he felt free after dispensing with the wad of cash. “It was cool!” he said, explaining that he didn’t have a clear message behind the act but that it was just expressing a feeling he had about money.
Vidich, who is a carpenter by trade, said that he has a lot of anxiety about money and that he was pleased to let go of it. “I have a lot of money anxiety,” he said. “I’m afraid of spending money on everything. I park in free parking, I’m ridiculously frugal.”
Vidich also said that he believed money could sometimes have a negative impact on society.
“Part of it is that I’m trying to show that money is ridiculous in all of these different ways, I’m not sure if I really did that, but that was one of the original intents,” he said.
Vidich said he was pleased with how the money looked as it was raining down into the street, explaining how he’d been stressing about whether the two wads of bills would simply go up and come back down.
Before heading out into the intersection, Vidich was briefly harangued by a woman who asked him why he didn’t take the money and donate it to a charity organization to help victims of the hurricane in Puerto Rico. Afterward, Vidich said that he sympathized with the woman’s perspective. “I’m very grateful for her,” he said. “I have those thoughts. This is four hundred dollars practically, I could give it that somebody who could really use it.”
Ultimately, however, Vidich said that what he ended up doing was more about the people present at the moment of the act, than any larger statement or contribution. “Everybody here needs it to the degree that they need it,” he said.
Vidich said he might even have an idea for the future. “The next idea I’ve been wanting to do is make a fishbowl that you can put money into.” Vidich said the idea would involve “installing” it in Northampton somewhere to see if it would get stolen, or if people would continue to “add and take from it.”
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ll see if I ever get to it.”