Cash Only, and a Rubber Band for Good Measure

There are a lot of people who still carry around cash.

A good majority of folks, especially the fast movers in our neighborhoods, rely only on the electronic world to make purchases. Having a few dollars in the pocket is a rarity for these folks. Everything is by credit, debit or the PayPal thing. Some even just tap the screen with their wallet and dash off.

That’s the life!

But it ain’t always so easy.

I had to laugh earlier this week when I was at the Hidden Kitchen in the South End, my favorite 6 to 2 lunch spot (a “6 to 2” is one of those unique Boston places that serves breakfast and lunch only, opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 2 p.m. Few other places in America have these operations, but we have loads of them). Like many such places, they only take cash, and as I ate my Club sandwich in the corner, I chuckled as nine out of 10 first timers walking through the door were stymied by the policy. One guy didn’t notice the many signs and even ordered and was ready to pay before he figured it all out.

They’re nice people over there, so they allowed him to eat and come back the next day with the cash.

But there are other people who are prepared for just such a thing and who have wads of cash in their pocket, who reserve the plastic strictly for vacations. Those people are few and far between, but I know a good many. In days like these when governments seem to want to get rid of currency, and black markets are the prime recipients, there are still guys who carry around a wad of cash in their pockets secured with a thick rubber band – the kind of rubber band that the Postal Service uses.

When one straps one’s money together with a rubber band, there’s a science to it all. If you have no money, but want to impress people when you pull out your wad of cash, you get a bunch of $1 bills and fill the inside of the wad with the low bills. Then, on the outside, maybe you pop a $50 with two or three $20s buttressing it.

Wrap it all up with the rubber band, and you’re good to go. Pull it out at your favorite convenience store, watering hole or lunch spot, and head’s are sure to turn – despite the fact you have less purchasing power in your hand than most people with debit cards.

However, the situation changes rapidly if you need a lot of cash, and want to downplay the fact.

Maybe you’re in a part of the neighborhood where flashing a big wad of cash might get the attention of the wrong people – who might follow you out of said convenience store and want to know a little more about the contents of that “wad.”

In that case, one takes about five $1 bills, a couple of finners ($5), and then tuck the C-notes, $50s and $20s nondescriptly on the inside. I try never to have $10 bills as I don’t believe them to be a helpful denomination.

By doing this, a guy can have a lot of money in his hands, but make people think he’s carrying light. I and my friends tend to carry light. Mr. Boston isn’t at a season in life to be able to impress anyone, even with a fake bulging wad of cash.

The trouble with carrying light is that the rubber band method doesn’t hold up.

That’s when big thinking comes in handy – some support structure is necessary.

In that case, I’ve seen people use one of those black office clips – or even a large silver paper clip. The trick is it has to be simple, nothing fancy. Anything customized or beyond an extremely common item risks slipping into the realms of a money clip – which is exactly what everyone’s trying to avoid.

It almost has to be an item one could find on the ground, or laying around the house in a forgotten corner. Slap it on, move on.

I’ve seen other guys use a debit card or credit card, wrapped with the elastic band.

What I like to use is the multi-purpose tool. That’s the metal think they sell on TV and in the discount stores that is the size of a credit card, but has about 50 uses included; things like a screwdriver, a small ruler, a bottle opener and an improvised saw. I have about 10 of those things, because every year someone seems to think I need one for Christmas. So, every since they came out with the multi-purpose tool, I could bet my life someone is going to give me one for Christmas.

And, that having come true, I often use it to support the cash in my pocket, wrapped in an elastic. That’s a very practical thing to do.

Not only am I prepared with cash, but I could also saw down a small tree and then measure the fruits of my labor while I open a non-twist off bottle of beer (which I purchased with cash).

Of course, everyone could simply just pop any cash they have into the billfold portion of their wallet. That’s the simple solution.

But that’s what New Yorkers and the rest of the country does.

And we’re not like the rest of them, we’re from Boston.

There is a difference, right down to the cash in one’s pocket.


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