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Powerless Without Plastic?

Powerless Without Plastic?

I stopped for take-out the other night at a nearby restaurant, and while I was there waiting for my food the power went out. It was out for maybe 3 minutes, tops, and people were sort of bewildered. I heard statements like: “We can’t use any credit cards”, “We can’t run any receipts”, “How will we pay?” “We can still order drinks, can’t we?” (Strangely, no one asked about the food.)

I leaned over the counter and said, “If my order is ready, I have cash, and I know how much it is with tax.” (Yeah, I eat there a lot, and always order the same thing.) It was a freak thing that I had cash though — I’d just come directly from cashing my Costco American Express rebate.

I’ve noticed that here in the southwest especially, people seem to use either debit or credit cards for just about everything. Much more so than other places I’ve been. I was shocked a year or so ago when I was on the east coast and a little food shop in a mall didn’t take debit or credit cards. I had to go eat somewhere else because I didn’t have cash. And another place wanted to charge a transaction fee…

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If their power were out for an extended period I think things would get chaotic here, because it would likely mean that the ATMs & banks would be down too. So I wonder, are we powerless without plastic, for anything but the short term?

View Comments (5)
  • The debate rages on about how we should use cash instead of plastic. I’ve tried tracking my cash purchases, and it’s not easy. All that spare change lying around. So I am committed to my debt card. I refrain from using a credit card except for explicit cashback purchases or online purchases.

    Here in DC, we eat at 2 food courts hosted at federal sites and both are cash only. It’s a pain to have to carry that cash with me, but the next alternative is bringing my own lunch (bleh). I’m too addicted to Gyros and Chinese food.

  • I am one of those people powerless without atleast my debit card. I rarely if ever have any cash–by that I mean I carry less than a dollar. A robber would be very disappointed if he chose me. I keep telling myself that I should have some cash stashed away at home, just in case. But never get around to doing it. I have had this happen to me before a long time ago–banks system went down and had no cash–it was terrible!

  • my wife and i only carry $20 each just in case. Not much, but it gets a tank of gas, gets some food and water, whatever when you are in a pinch. it normally resides dormant for months in our wallets, though.

  • “A robber would be very disappointed if he chose me.”

    I wouldn’t want to encounter a “disappointed” robber. I want rather that he be a very happy robber pleased with his loot than being beat up. How much does an emergency room visit cost nowadays?

    I typically carry about $100 in cash. Too often the systems are down at supermarkets and can’t take plastic or I wind up buying at stores that accept cash only.

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