Cash or Credit?

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When I left the hardware store on Saturday – I won’t mention which one, suffice to say the same stage setting seems to apply, whichever chain I visit – the sizzling onions beckoned me. I can ‘take or leave’ the sausages, but the onions get me every time.

“Not a problem, Sir.”

Fast forward 10 minutes and 400 metres to the raffle tickets at the supermarket – well, that was an entirely different cup-of-tea.

They needed cash.
I don’t do cash.
I explained that I don’t do cash.
They didn’t believe me.

I felt like a heel, literally falling over my feet, all the while not breaking stride but explaining at-length, while yelling back over my shoulder, that, “I don’t carry cash”.

Although I could feel my voice tapering-out as I disappeared into the third aisle of the carpark, I felt as if the raffle-ticket people still had ‘unfinished-business’ with me.
They didn’t believe me. I know they didn’t. I could feel they didn’t.

The guilt turned to anger.

“They shouldn’t expect people to have cash – its 2022; The Girl-Guides new rescue helicopter playground fundraising parents should damn well know that.”

By way of illustration, a quick quiz: What coins are currently in use as legal tender in New Zealand? I don’t mean the $1 and $2 ‘goldies’ – even I know they’re still around. But what about the one cent, two cent, five cent, 10 cent, 20 cent and 50 cent coins? Do they even exist anymore?

And, unless you work in the Two-Dollar Shop, or serve at the counter of the tea-rooms my grandmother still visits, do you even know what those coins look like now – if they do still exist?
I had to drive the long way out of the carpark so I didn’t have to make eye contact with the raffle people.

I usually feel good driving my new car – now I felt doubly-guilty: “So you can afford a new car (and six bags of August 2022-priced groceries, including the posh IPA craft beer), but you can’t spare a couple of bucks for the disabled pets horse-riding program? You lousy flash new car driver!”

I’m sure life used to be easier before the inconvenience of cashless convenience.

I suspect I’m not alone in my subsequent self-flagellation – how dare the local kindergarten ruin my feel-good Saturday shopping trip.

At least in the old days if I was home and the guys with the bikes and short-haircuts knocked on the door I could pretend I wasn’t there – a quick thirty second drop and roll by the lounge window and, ‘Bob’s your Aunty’, another sermon and ‘please just leave donation’ bullet dodged.

But ambushed at the supermarket door, there’s simply nowhere to hide – it’s you against the Under-8 netball team mums – and they can hurt you real bad with just a look.

My advice: keep a twenty dollar note on your person at all times – and keep a reserve one in the car. Don’t be tempted to use it for anything other than bona fide raffle ticket emergencies.

Guilt got the better of me. I eventually went back to the supermarket with $20 cash. To get the cash I had illegally parked so I could use an ATM. Upon returning from the ATM to my car I had a parking ticket. $40. One non-descript piece of text in the small print on the reverse side of the infringement notice mockingly caught my eye – ‘INFRINGEMENT FEES CANNOT BE PAID IN CASH’.

Postscript: I now have a ticket and I’m in the draw to win a trailer, or perhaps a heat-pump. The local community hip-hop orphans dance crew (and their parents) are well on their way to being able to afford that luxury vacation (and dance competition) in Hawaii, and I can once again go back to the supermarket, guilt-free – but now always with a twenty in my back pocket.

Related: What is in a title?

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Alan Neben
Alan Neben
Alan Neben is a Mount Maunganui local and experienced New Zealand publisher. His columns provide a light-hearted perspective on social changes effecting New Zealanders

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