Making Change in the Modern World

Buying a sandwich or a coffee has never been so easy, provided you don’t use cash and the calculator is working on the cash register.

This week I was meeting a friend to re-hash some old times and review some paperwork from the estate of an old friend. Likely there would be more re-hashing that paperwork.

Now, Starbucks isn’t my choice du jour. I’m not opposed like some.

But I’m not exactly all-in like others.

I’d probably not go there unless invited, and that’s where my friend invited me. Left to my own resources, I’d have invited him to The Hidden Kitchen over on Albany, or the outstanding al fresco taco shack under the Mystic/Tobin Bridge in Chelsea. That’s more my style.

And those places are cash only.

I’m a cash only fella.

So we match up like a double decker checker.

At Starbucks though, there’s not too much cash thrown around. It’s all debit cards or credit cards, and occasionally someone just phones in a payment somehow over the air.

God love ‘em.

Anyhow, I was at the point of paying for my items when I took out my cash – wrapped up nicely with a Postal Service elastic, the high bills inside, low bills outside – and gave the “Barristerista” $5.50 on a $2.41 bill.

Confusion was in the air.

He looked at the cash; couldn’t figure out why I had given him two quarters, and had assumed I would use a debit card. So, he hadn’t entered the amount in the register to get the nice-and-easy change calculation.

What a struggle.

Back and forth he went from the penny hole to the dime drawer. Finally he gave up and handed me $1.65.

Not a chance.

I handed it back and said – nicely no doubt – that he’d shorted me. It wasn’t a’purpose or nothing, so I let him figure it out on his time. But a line was forming and people were starting to blame me for using cash and confusing the poor gent.

He tried another time, giving me $2 even and checking out my reaction to see if I’d just take it.

Not a chance.

Finally, feeling some pity and a little pressure from the ultra-in-a-hurry crowd that likes these places, I whispered over to him, “Three dollars and nine cents.”

He smiled and I smiled back – two very different generations colliding over the sale of a cup of coffee.

He can’t make simple change.

I can’t figure out how to SnapChat.

We’re even.

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