A Change in the Currency

Today I encountered an older man waiting for the bus, Subway sandwich in hand, clutching a dollar bill the way that only paper money can be held.  No matter how many times we wrinkle it into our sweaty palms paper bills recoil back, a material reminder of how many germs it probably carries.  Needless to say, even in its current curl, the money would still be accepted by the bus meter.  With the new rates, he would need two dollar bills to pay the $1.80 fare.

“You could save money by using a SmartTrip card,” I offered.

“I prefer using cash,” he replied.

I inferred the rest of our conversation, starting with the premise that he didn’t believe in using cards.  But he must believe in them, because seeing is believing, and I had a SmarTrip card in my hand.  A better statement would be that he didn’t put value in the card, preferring instead the familiar currency of our forefathers, appropriate given the day-before celebration of our independence.

Our brief interchange brought up so many questions though, starting with the usefulness and over-use of cash, the idea that one-day we will all use cards or smartphones to make payments, and the encompassing recession and inflation that will challenge our worth as well.  For more information on the cost of riding the metro or on these other topics, see the sites below:

WMATA Fares in Washington D.C. and the reasons to use SmarTrip cards

Why Cash is Losing its Currency – as examined by CBS Sunday Morning

NBC Washington Reports that D.C. Cabs will Accept Credit Cards

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