Banjo Man had a humiliating experience at the grocery store last Saturday. You all know how much he loves to go to the supermarket. Most Saturdays he loads up the garbage, takes it to the town dump and then–sales flyers in hand–visits as many as four different grocery stores to take advantage of bargains and load up on healthy food (his latest obsession is organic cabbage–do not ask me why).
I should back up a bit. About two months ago I instituted a new household plan: paying for everything with cash. I thought it would be an interesting experiment that would result in no credit card bills (we were previously using an airline credit card and racking up points for free tickets) and spending less on impulse purchases. I also thought of it as going “off grid” with spending, protecting ourselves from an internet crash, which probably makes no sense, but as I said…this was an experiment.
And we were both enjoying it. Except for buying gas, that is. I am trying to get the hang of prepaying for gas, but I have to confess I have used “the card” once instead of making that trip into the gas station on a rainy day.
The day before Thanksgiving I got an email from our credit card company asking if I had charged a tank of gas in Minnesota.
I immediately responded to the email and had our card frozen. I forgot to tell Banjo Man. On Saturday morning, while my husband was loading up the garbage, I was on the phone with the credit card company going through a list of charges that weren’t mine.
We have no idea how the card was hacked, but such is life in 2016.
Banjo Man had told me he was only going to buy three things at the store, due to the fact that we had a refrigerator full of leftovers and one rotting organic cabbage.
I gave no thought to how much cash he had in his wallet. In fact, I took a nap.
When he came home he was wild-eyed. The credit card didn’t work! The credit card didn’t work!!!
Me: Uh-oh. It was hacked. And cancelled. I forgot to tell you. And then: Why were you using it?
Turns out he thought there was a sale on oranges (which was unfortunately last week’s sale, which threw off Banjo Man’s calculations of how much he could buy with the cash he had on hand) and he needed a few other important items. But when it all added up, there at the register, he was $1.88 short.
Because of the oranges.
So he whipped out that dusty credit card only to discover it no longer worked its magic.
The woman in line behind him offered to pay the difference, but Banjo Man had the oranges removed from his bag. The woman insisted two more times and seemed very sympathetic. Banjo Man was perplexed, he told me. Why did she look so sorry for him?
Look in the mirror, I said. Banjo Man prides himself on good grooming and being nicely dressed. He irons his clothes, delighting in neat creases and lightly starched colors. He is fussy about his shirts. He loves his ties. He always looks professional.
Except on Saturdays, when he goes to the dump.
And then, obviously, his unshaven, old-man-clothed-self looks like someone with no money. Someone who spends a lot of time at the local dump.
Someone who can’t afford to pay full price for oranges.