Yesterday afternoon, Bill and I made a Costco run. On the way home, we stopped at an ATM outside of our bank. (This post is riveting so far, isn’t it?) Anyhoo, as we drove home, Bill commented that the ATM gave him two fifty dollar bills as part of his cash. He was somewhat disgruntled, as I always am when that happens to me, because the fact is that many places won’t take a bill larger than a twenty.
“Well, as the daughter of a small business owner, I understand why they hate large bills,” I said. “Small businesses covet their ones and fives and tens so that they can give change to the bulk of their customers.”
But it got me to thinking how the retail world has changed so much. I’m not even talking about the fact that so many people shop online these days instead of making their way to their nearest Macy’s or Old Navy. What I AM talking about is the fact that most of us pay with credit cards instead of cash.
Actually, that isn’t fair for me to say, because I’ve done absolutely no research on how people pay for goods. I’m basing that on me, me, me alone. I almost never pay for anything with cash. It’s the points I earn from my credit card company, donchaknow. I use them for Christmas shopping.
I’m also banking it on the fact that I have literally seen cashiers look like a deer in the headlights on the rare occasions that I hand them bills for my purchase. They are simply stumped. I’ve gotten past my former disappointment that the vast majority of young retail workers would be unable to make change if the cash register didn’t tell them exactly how much change they should hand to their customer. Time moves on, my friends. Cursive is no longer necessary because exactly no one hand writes a single thing. Adding and subtracting in your head is becoming old-fashioned as well, because who doesn’t have a calculator on the phone they indubitably have.
And I’m showing my own old-fashionedness by using the word indubitably instead of undoubtedly. You’ve got to dig in your heels at some point.
I learned two specific things from my mother as she trained me to work in the front end of the bakery. Well, I learned many, many things, but here are two that have always stuck in my mind: I learned how to make change in my head without use of a calculator. I could even figure out how to give change if the total came to, say, $8.27 and they gave me a ten dollar bill and two pennies. The second thing I learned was that your bills always face the same direction. I think it had something to do with making it easier and safer to count out bills. All I know is very often, even if I get my cash handed to me by a bank teller, the bills are all facing different directions.
As an aside, I wonder if anyone besides grocery stores even keep coins in their cash registers? I learned from my boss at my old Safeway job that you never open a tube of coins until the very last coin is gone. That way you don’t end up with a cash register of pennies. Pennies. You know, those things you see laying on the ground because they’re worth so little no one bothers to pick them up. Except me.
As for Bill’s problem, the answer is simple. Don’t get $200 cash at an ATM. Get $175. No fifties!
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