The science fiction dream of a cash-free society is pretty much here these days. The little debit cards we all carry and the online bill paying software have even made checks nearly obsolete.
Nearly, but not quite.
There are still a couple of places in my life where I can’t swipe and enter my secret pin number. A couple of those places would only require a willingness for customer service and maybe a little bit of technology. But they may take something a little more inventive.
The first place where I wind up using cash is the vending machines at work. Fortunately, the Coke machine takes dollar bills and with a minimum of patience it even accepts the folding money pretty consistently. The snack machine is another matter though. It only accepts coins and it’s very temperamental about bent or worn coins. I can sometimes have a couple bucks-worth of change in my pocket and still be unable to access the Chex Mix in my time of need.
A slot for my debit card and a pin keypad could clear all that up and balloon my weight 10-15 pounds in a month or so.
After I got my first debit card the first two places I tried it out were at the grocery store and the gas station. It seemed to work pretty well and soon I could have my card swiped and my pin entered before the math-challenged checker who used to mis-count my change could even scan my soft drink and pack of gum. Before long they opened self-checkout lanes and I by-passed her completely.
Now every department store, convenience store, restaurant and most fast food joints will take your card. At Sonic I can even swipe right from my car before the car hop brings my order.
One place I’ve encountered that’s not with the 21st century is the Motor Vehicle Department. Not remembering my old-fashioned and moth-eaten checkbook there has caused me lots of aggravation more than once. Gov. Bill wants us in the space travel business but refuses to take my debit card. What’s up with that?
The other place I where I can’t swipe requires reasoning with a slightly higher authority than the Guv. That’s right, God hasn’t made accommodation for debit cards yet either. If I forget the checkbook on Sunday the Lord’s work gets shortchanged because I don’t carry much cash anymore.
I have the solution though. Install a swipe slot and keypad right on the side of the collection plate. It might slow things down just a little during the service but deacons would appreciate downloading the debit charges a lot more than counting and rolling all those nickels and dimes.
I’ll admit I was a little skeptical about all this technology at first but if it keeps me out of line at the bank, I’m all for it.
I suppose the next step will be that little chip they’ll implant in the back of my arm that will provide any scanner authorized with all the pertinent personal data on me it needs from medical history to driver’s license number to bank balance.
I guess it’s all good. Now if I can just get this darn machine to let go my Chex Mix snack.
Karl Terry is managing editor at the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at 356-4481 ext. 33 or e-mail: