Saturday, March 01, 2014

Cash Crunch

Back in 1980, my girlfriend's dad was working on a bank card system that he hoped would turn us into a "cashless society." At the time, as any good teenage boy hearing words come out of a grownup's head, I scoffed. Cashless? You mean that I will walk around town with no folding money in my pocket with nothing but a magnetic stripe to pay my way? Right. And when do I report to Carousel?
Well, I'm here to tell you that I live in the big city and there are plenty of weeks that go by when I carry nothing but a magnetic strip or two in my wallet. Those clanky bits of change I used to haul around are but a thing of the past. Thirty-four years later, I am living in a cashless society. Who would have thought? Well, we know the answer to that one.
It's also the reason why movies that feature satchels full of hundred dollar bills and TV shows that include daring armed car robberies are becoming somewhat antiquated. Who needs all that exposure? Why not just figure out a way to electronically transfer those millions of dollars into your Swiss Bank account. I guess it's nice to know some things never change. The Swiss are still the best at keeping time and money.
Minneapolis is a lot like Switzerland. Well, in climate at least, if not accent. That's where you'll find the headquarters for Target. I worked for Target back in the eighties. It was a discount store, so you didn't expect to need a credit card for transactions there. This meant security for the wads of tens and twenties and rolls of quarters and nickels and dimes was extreme. These days, I suspect those cash drawers don't get the workout they used to. But maybe they should. Credit card information was gathered by as yet unknown hackers, causing customers to run fleeing in the opposite direction in the months following Christmas. Revenue slipped more than five percent after that breach.
Kind of makes me long for the days when I used have a lucky day because I found a crumpled up five dollar bill in the pocket of my jeans. I could buy a latte with that.

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