What happened was, I was walking through a train station on the way to work with the buds playing randomly on shuffle and a knifeblade of Real Music came in from outside so I had to pull them out of my ears, there was this young dude getting great electric sound out of a teeny amp doing a slow take on Little Wing with a really good voice: When I’m sad, she comes to me… plenty room between the notes and lots of soul in them. He looked a little hard-pressed; I put my hand in my pocket for some coin but there was no coin there because I live on plastic these days and that busker went unpaid that morning. Another reason for a thing I’m thinking of: Going back to cash.
Used to be I had to hit the bank most weeks to arrange brass-in-pocket, but no longer. [Dear reader: The following is for Americans, who are a little behind on this stuff.] For a while now, almost anywhere I want to buy whatever for less than $100, I just tap the paymachine with my credit card. No PIN no waiting no fuss no muss. And more recently, because who wants to dig around in their pocket for their credit card like a filthy savage, I can just hold my phone up to the machine because of course I’m already holding it like you’re holding yours mostly, and Something Something Pay makes this ecstatic little Internet Chiming Sound to let me know that I can take my latte or jeans or flowers or beers and say “Thanks, have a good one” and walk away, that relationship is over.
So, why should I bother dealing with cash?
Routing everything through my credit card is feeding the global payments cartel, who extract a tariff measured in freaking dollars for almost every routine transaction. I’ve seen so many great business plans go begging because they could have done something wonderful in the world if you could only do micropayments, which you can’t, did I mention that cartel that basically has it locked up and tied down?
Obviously when you pay for everything with plastic (even if it’s your mobile pretending to be plastic) then The Man Knows Who You Are And What You’re Buying. Well, The Man also knows where anyone who carries a mobile phone around (which means everyone) is all the time, but let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I mean, right now I do a single Amazon search for Resonant Cavity Extractors and the freaking cavity extractors follow me around the Internet for weeks; I’m pretty sure the Big Vision guys in the payments cartel have this notion where after I fill That Prescription at the local drugstore, I’m gonna get pervasive popups for [Stop right there, Tim -Ed.]
There’s no good way to lay a couple bucks on the busker playing Little Wing.
I haven’t got this worked out along Microeconomics-theory lines, but I’m starting to hear an internal voice saying “Cash is good.” So I think I’m going to start dropping by the ATM more often, and making a clinking sound when I walk. And laying a few bucks on buskers, because if nobody does that there won’t be any.