Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Best Things In Life Are Free/But You Can Give Them To The Birds and Bees

(Surely, someone out there knows where those lyrics come from.)

What ever happened to money? Remember money? I'm not talking about the abstract, I'm talking about bills, baby; paper; cold hard cashola.

I LOVE CASH, and find myself getting increasingly marginalized by a humanity that seems more than willing to leave that behind in favor of plastic.

I don't believe in plastic. Plastic causes more damage to your personal finances than any irresponsible banking could ever do. Take into account just how easy it is for some scheming nerd to decide to steal your identity, and uh, yeah, it's just not comfort inducing.

Beyond that, plastic is traceable, and if people think the government tapping your cell phone calls is an intrusion, ask yourself what the government has any business in knowing that last night you made a trip to the 7-11 and got some Ben & Jerry's; or that you purchased some fetish gear online; or that you've been following Mike's adventures in Brazil.

Somewhere in Washington DC, in a dank little office without a view, a clerk of some kind is scratching his/her oily nose while looking at your credit card statements looking for some kind of anomaly. (His/Her cousin is probably printing a copy of this out and putting it in a humongous manila envelope with TBF - That Beige Fuck - written on it.)

Quite frankly, I can live without that, thank you very much.

And so, I don't have a bank account (*gasp*), I don't have an ATM (*horrors*), and I don't have a credit card (*shudder*). A good part of this is due largely to an enormously irresponsible youth, bearing a striking resemblance to your author, whose banking decisions rarely took available funds into consideration. That could easily be reversed, except for the fact that, in simply cashing checks and carrying it all with me, I got used to, and grew to appreciate, the fact that cash money is infinitely easier to deal with.

Don't have the money for it? Ya can't buy it, can ya? Either let it go, or put the money aside.

"Put it on plastic! You can have it now, and pay it off slowly."

Fuck. Off. This means you, Madison Avenue, with your ugly urgings to give in to my impulse buying needs. I don't have credit, don't want credit, and can get along fine without you, you usurers you. (Say that five times fast.)

Ach, but my vigilance, she is waning.

Institunionally, it is becoming more and more difficult to live without some plastic verification of your financial status. I can't rent a car with money alone...not without an enormous deposit (this is even applicable if you only have a debit card in some places). Cell-phones companies also want a deposit. Netflix is much easier to deal with if you just have them automatically charge a card, debit or credit.

It's even gotten to the point where people feel put out for having to deal with cash at all. I bought a pack of smokes with a twenty, and the guy behind the counter gave me a look that could've bored a hole in me, he was so pissed at having to count change. I had a similar experience with a waitress, who dropped all niceties until she saw that I left a decent tip behind.

I wonder if there's a study somewhere that shows that people tip better with plastic than with cash. I'd think it'd go the other way, but then that's me.

Here's what has blown my mind most recently: About a month and a half ago, I was on a date. We met up for coffee and then went to dinner. We were having a great time, and when the check came, the usual banter over who would pay etc. I won this, placed a fitty in the little envelope, and gave it to the waitress, telling her not to worry about the change.

As the waitress walked away, my date turned to me and said that she noticed that I've been paying cash all evening, didn't I have a bank card or something?

I held back the impulse to yell, "bitch, I just bought you dinner." Instead, I explained that I didn't believe in blahblahblah, I already went through it a couple of paragraphs ago. "Is it important," I asked unbelievingly.

"Wellll, it just shows that a guy has his finances together, the plastic does, that he's responsible and solid. And cash does the opposite."

I haven't seen her since. I tried, but the phone calls weren't returned, so, that tells you where things stood.

I don't believe this is applicable to everyone, but I'm sure that there's a sizable subset of the population that think this way.

I think this is dangerous, how complacently we're embracing this, as the pieces of a big-brother society sloooowly fall into place.

Apropos of nothing, I'm sending along this link for Do It Yourself Impeachment. Because, if the government's gonna have a manila file on me, it may as well have something of merit.--tbo


At 7:06 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

That's what I waa-aaaa-aaa-aaant.
Yeah, baby.

I dig your vibe here, though I think I simply don't care. Let the fuckers come and get me, be they feds or nerds.

As for tipping, the really interesting question here, I'm not sure where I stand. I tip a buck-ish per drink, maybe a buck-and-a-half for a shot and a beer if the change works. Try and figure roughly the same when I pay with a card. Big difference seems to me to be pay-as-you-go versus all at once. I tip more pay-as-you-go, especially early on, because it means service.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger PJ said...

Hey baby --- I'm sitting mere feet away from you at work, so I guess we both know what we're doing with our paid time today. ;o)

I see where you're coming from, but you're not simply talking about a plastic-free stance; your talking about a credit-free stance. In an ideal world, oh yes, my friend. Yes. But in this world? I love the idea of using cash for everything. But I also love the idea of owning a house, for instance.

Right or wrong, fair or unfair, your mind-set smells a little mid-20s, rather than mid-30s. I, myself (who consider myself to be very open about such issues), might also find it a little suspect in a "future prospect." A cause for further inquiry, but not necessarily alarm. Which brings me to this:

2 other things I can't condone:
-Your date actually asking that question like that, if this was an early date, and you'd never had a cause for other financial conversations. That's fucking weird. I believe you may have dodged a bullet, there, darling.
-Leaving a hefty tip when the waitress was a cunt.

At 4:06 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Hello PJ, and welcome, I like the jacket you're wearing.

I was having trouble getting why my mindset was more Flapper era as opposed to Great Depression era, when I realized you were talking about age-range...

I guess that smell is what one is supposed to smell when confronted with this mindset; and, I think that's a function of the credit-state that's been built around us.

Don't get me wrong, the argument for credit in the use of buying a house, for example, is a strong one. The argument against credit is best exemplified by the fact that I can think of 4 or 5 people, off the top of my head, who have either claimed or are in the act of claiming bankruptcy before the age of 40.

Credit may be a necessary evil, but it is not a mandatory one (along the lines of my other big bugaboo I adhere to, whether I want to or not: insurance). However, there's nothing wrong or shady with deciding to live without it, which is how it's starting to be perceived.

My big thing with plastic is the access given to the government to it. That's as big a violation of my right to privacy as tapping my phone calls.

Now, about these pizza parties...

At 7:36 AM, Blogger Madfoot said...

Money can't get everything, it's true
But what it can't get, I can't use...

Yeah, I was going to say the thing about being able to buy a house or car. A verifiable credit rating has become part of living "in the grid," societally speaking. I can see why it would give a date pause to hear that you only deal in cash, though the rest of her response was ass: A guy who uses plastic is, by virtue of his MasterCard, more dependable and responsible? Tell that to the whatever-percent of Americans who're flirting with banktruptcy as a result of pulling out the plastic because they don't have the cash at the moment.

I knew one guy who made a practice of putting everyone's drinks on his card and collecting cash from the rest of us. This was how he'd generate enough cash to get thru till payday. It was gross and irresponsible. So, would your date have rather been out with that idiot? At least you could cover the bill without paying interest.

Anyway, how do you know a waitress is nice after you leave her a tip? And who cares at that point? Feh.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

good points about the waitress, and not sure what I based my comments on, but it was the over-riding impression I received.

Also good points on the houses and cars (though, I bought my current car without a credit card, and it's a beauty!).

I guess what I have a hard time reconciliating is the whole shady into it in person with JJ over the weekend, and was reminded of another ire-raising point: Purchasing airline tickets.

If you buy airline tix with cash, the airline assigns you to be searched by airport security. I wish I were making this up. (And yes, JJ, you asshole, I'm sure being beige doesn't help matters, but for once, I am trying not to pin something on you white mofos, personally. Just institutionally.)

Somehow, by paying cash, I'm more likely to be a terrorist. Makes perfect sense. The folks responsible for 9/11 all paid with cash *wink wink*, really they did.

At 9:18 PM, Blogger amandak said...

Back when I used to date, lo these many years ago, it would have made me a little tingly to see a guy throw down a fifty for dinner. Something about nice big round numbers I guess.

Maybe I'm just old fashioned.

At 7:08 AM, Blogger Madfoot said...

God, I didn't even think of the airline ticket thing. Hurm. I wonder if I could do a stunt for an article and live for a month plastic-free to illustrate this fact. interesting points, beige.

At 7:16 AM, Blogger Madfoot said...

Oh! I just thought of another thing! FedEx does not accept cash. Ever. Seriously! Go try to send a FedEx right now.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

MandyK, I guess I am looking for an old fashioned girl. Who isn't married. and not living in Arizona. too bad that leaves out like 90% if the population. *le sigh* (I kid, I kid)

Ms. CrazyFoot, I'd be most pleased if you participated in said stunt, should it ever happen! Yay!

Also, I hadn't noticed that about FedEx...gonna have to look into it.


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