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…
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?