Toss Your Credit Cards


Here’s why. The last time I bought a sandwich and a small coffee, the coffee cost so much that I protested and the clerk said, “Make that coffee a medium and you’ll save money.” I followed her advice and saved 25¢. It could never have happened with real money. Besides, clerks know the difference between medium and small.

The crazy card has replaced all that. Yes, crazy: it makes a medium less expensive than a small. The crazy truth is the computerized cash register has been conspiring with the card, so the clerk must counter-conspire with the customer. That’s bad for management and worse for you, the customer. You needn’t use the cash in your hands or your purse. You needn’t use your hands, so you might as well not have them. And that’s bad for sandwich-joint owners. The crippled customer and the atavistically honest clerk will bankrupt the joint.

It’ll happen more and more as glitches do. The Republican Party will call for cops at every cash register. The Democrats will say abolish cash. What about you? Do you need debit cards to pay your bills and credit cards to supplement your debit cards?

Toss your cards. Don’t use cash, either. It’s government issued. It might be a communist plot. North Korea has cash. Better to beg or steal. Then wait for the next credit card to be offered to you by mail. Start over, but this time ignore prices. Remember, “small” costs more than “medium.” Huge credit card debts will cost no more than small ones. Nothing will cost anything.

Don’t feel safe, though. Remember the last crash in 2008? A crash once was having no money. A crash now is having no plastic. Don’t say, “Brother, can you spare me a dime?” Say, “Computer, can you fake me a medium, and this time, make it macchiato?” Then continue. “How about a second mortgage?”

How about the formula for your infant child, or your cousin’s, or your neighbor’s? How about ending up in a plastic Hooverville with torn garbage bags for walls?

How about the afterlife? Without the card, you’re as good as dead.

I spat out the first sip of small but medium coffee. It tasted like plastic. Gave my sandwich to the pigeons. Let’s trade cards for wings and migrate but, no, not to North Korea. No leftovers there.

-Fred Naiden, UNC Prof. Emeritus. Several previous columns on town life ( )

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