What is cash?

by JT McGee

radioshack, what is cash, black fridayLike the moron I am I stood outside for little over an hour waiting for Black Friday deals. My girlfriend and I had already gone to Kohl’s for some new T-Fal cookware (apparently a big deal!) before sleeping only a few hours to tread back out to Radioshack to buy a new laptop at a discount.

As we waited in line outside the store (we were the third “group” in line) we began to take part in the freezing-my-bum-off camaraderie. There’s nothing like a good deal to bring a bunch of people together.

As time went on more and more people filed into line. Some would drive up to the store to ask casually, “what time do they open?” Those of us already in line joked that the next person to show up would be told that they opened at 7 AM.

Of course, the store actually opened at 5:30. As another car drove up to the line, I immediately offered up a quick bit of help yelling, “7!” This couple wasn’t interested in the time, however—they knew what they were doing.

Cash or Credit?

Before filing into the store, a helpful worker peeled off cards giving us the “right” to purchase whatever it was we wanted in the store. Quantities were extremely limited, so luckily for us, we had in fact exchanged enough sleep for a good deal in order to get the laptop my girlfriend wanted. It felt like a victory, even though my eyes were telling me I needed more sleep.

After walking inside we walked promptly to the checkout line. There were three open—a record for Radioshack, I think!—one of which was designated as a “cash-only” checkout line due to a broken point of sale machine.

The lady working the counter yelled “anyone going to pay cash can come right here!”

Immediately, I said to my girlfriend “What is cash?” Hilariously, a woman only a few steps away from me, someone we had spent the better part of the early morning with, asked exactly the same thing. It was at that point I realized how little cash actually plays a part in my life.

It’s kind of funny to think about how completely out of luck I’d be at 99% of places I shop if they were all cash-only. As I explained on Wednesday I have a terrible memory, and I’m pretty darn lazy. In general, whipping out a credit card is way better than going to the ATM.

I felt vindicated to know that I’m not the only loser who has no idea what cash is. I haven’t seen cash in a long time. And, even to my own dismay, I don’t even know what a check is. Nearly all of my income is earned and received via direct bank wire (on a good day!) or PayPal for any other. Only a very small percentage comes in the form of a check (this is a sore spot right now as I wait for a few.)

I didn’t even have a personal checking account until a few months ago. How crazy is that? I had always had a savings account, but a checking account was never a real priority, since PayPal basically turns any savings account into a 6-checks-per-month checking account.

Maybe I’m different for a very cashless paperless lifestyle, but I don’t think so. I think it just comes along with being one of the many—the Generation Y!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

krantcents November 26, 2011 at 12:59

I remember (40 years ago) studying about the cashless and checkless society that was coming because of ATMs and online banking. It takes time to change our habits, perhaps a generation or two. It is changing, but slowly.


PKamp3 November 26, 2011 at 13:39

Haha – cash is useful to have around in certain circumstances – buying tickets from scalpers, negotiating with salesmen (and women) – but it’s quickly becoming an anachronism. Why carry it around when it’s a security risk? If my credit or debit cards (or even my checks) get canceled I can quickly stop payment. On cash? Nope – good luck getting it back.


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