Our 92 year-old neighbour came by last night to use the phone. (92 on Christmas day.) We called her son for her, and he’s coming around tomorrow. After we hung up the phone she insisted on giving us two dollars.
“No, no, no,” we said. “We don’t need the money.”
“You must. Phone calls are expensive.”
“But we’re on a plan,” we say. “Calls are free.” Well, not free, because there is the plan, but, “Making a call for you doesn’t cost us any more than we were going to pay anyway.”
She doesn’t comprehend phone plans at all. To her, each call costs money.
It’s the same every time. She comes by every couple of months and asks us to call her son. (I think her son gave her a mobile, but she doesn’t like to use it.) She offers us money for the call. We refuse, she insists, and eventually we take it because it stresses her if we don’t.
As I added the latest $2 to the tiny pile of coins we’ve collected from calling our neighbour’s son, I realised that her phone calls are the only time I have touched physical money in the last eleven months.
It’s been tap and go on everything, and I mean everything, since Covid-19.
Contactless payments are the only way I have paid for anything. No one wants cash, because of the risk of spreading coronavirus. Of course, that means that any data harvester who pays for the information can now tell that I buy two regular-sized coffees a day from the 7-Eleven, and how much take-away I buy every week.
Actually, no. They always knew how much takeaway I bought.
I think there will always be a place for cash—even if it’s not physical coins, but for some kind of money that can’t be tracked through the system—it’ll be interesting to see what that turns out to be over the next fifty years. I’m not sure it will still be banknotes and coins.