There I was: at the dry cleaner, picking up a coat, a sweater and two pairs of pants. The attendant turned on the whirly-go-round — or whatever it happens to be called — and waited until my apparel arrived.
“Here you go,” she said, placing the hangers on a bar. “Will that be credit or debit?”
I handed her a $50 bill.
“That will be cash,” I said.
“Oh, my!” she exclaimed. “You certainly don’t see THAT much any more!”
I’m not entirely clear whether the attendant was talking about the $50 bill or about cash in general, but I suspect it was the latter.
I think she’s probably right.
Poll any number of people who work in the retail, restaurant and service industries (and I imagine you’d do this only if you were truly desperate to make mindless conversation) and I’m certain you’d be told exactly this: Cash has gone the way of the passenger pigeon, the woolly mammoth, the dodo bird and the, well, you get the idea.
You rarely see it any more.
Me? It’s debit all the way for pretty much everything on my spending list. You name it. Groceries. Gas. Wine. Fast-food burgers, book-store calendars and drug-store cosmetics.
And yes, dry cleaning.
The husband’s the same. I don’t think he’s had cash in his pockets since the days we needed a babysitter, and that wasn’t exactly yesterday.
It wasn’t always thus. It used to be that before I headed for the bus, I’d run around the house, desperately looking for coins under the cushions of the chesterfields. But no need for that any more. It’s a card all the way. Money? So old school.
But perhaps not entirely. If I dared drop into the local donut shop and tried to pay by credit card for a butter cream, I’d likely be met with a scowl. That would be as odd, oh, as trying to pay for a $1.05 donut with a $50 bill.
Not far down the road, however, I reckon I will be settling up with someone — the attendant at the dry cleaner, the server at the pub, the cashier at the grocery store — hand over a couple of bills and be met with a puzzled look. What’s this, their mind balloons will be saying? A piece of paper emblazoned with an image of a late prime minister?
Yep, it’s coming, all right. Hang on to those bills while you have them, folks. They might be worth millions one day.