This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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When I go on a trip, I always make sure that I have some walking around money on me to meet any expenses that might arise – especially if they are of a surprising kind.
My firm encourages me to use credit cards in every instance that I can. I do so, but I still feel the need for a little cash cushion just in case. Don’t you?
Am I acting too middle-aged? I don’t think so.
Am I personally trying to hold back the tide of electronic forms of money from greater and greater use? I don’t think so.
I think I am just being prudent.
Now prudence as a concept might apply more regularly to those of us who have gray or graying hair. We’ve absorbed some of the pounding that life can give us and have lived to tell funny stories about our experiences.
Well, here is my latest story.
I had to get up very early in the morning March 20 to catch a plane to come home from the American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Sacramento, Calif.
My early hour was made even earlier as I had built in a little extra time because of high winds and rain.
So here I was standing down in the hotel lobby at 4:30 a.m.
It is an education to observe life at that hour, and as the case might be, to be observed.
I was glad I had a buck on me because as soon as a local street person spied me through the sliding glass doors, he made a beeline right to me. I gave him the dollar and he turned to leave as the doorman was calling for security on his walkie-talkie.
I don’t think he would have taken a debit card.
Then a cab arrived. Out stepped a young couple that appeared to be about college age. The man had on what could have been a tuxedo. The woman had on a nice gown that looked formal, yet revealing. Some sort of prom? Perhaps.
At first I thought nothing of it, but the man kept going back and forth across my line of sight in the lobby. The cab driver came in and was somewhat agitated. Finally, the man in the tuxedo had a conversation with the doorman.
“What do I do?” I could hear him ask as he held up some paper money in has hand.
He didn’t have enough to pay the fare. Apparently the ATM was off at that hour and cash wasn’t forthcoming.
The next nearest one was at a restaurant eight blocks away.
I don’t know what was decided. My taxi arrived (which I had called for the night before, prudence, you know) to take me away.
What I do know is that the evening suddenly was not turning out the way the young man had probably planned it. His date had disappeared from view very early on.
How different all of this might have been had he kept a few extra dollars in his pocket for just such an eventuality.
Cash might have competitors, but it is not yet obsolete.