Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

September 2015

If you followed the early morning news during the recent fiscal crisis in Greece, you saw the lines of people lined up at ATMs to withdraw their legal limit of 60 Euros per day. That was worth, like, 66 bucks; used to be, like, 90 bucks.

So, I am big-shotting at a nifty Cape Cod sports bar — announcing, “I got this!” while grabbing the bill and whipping out my trusty “rewards” card. The waitress said, “We don’t take credit cards.” I had to come up with the cash.

I never have cash, except on poker nights, and then it’s just a coffee can full of dimes, nickels, and quarters — no halves, no pennies. She pointed me to an ATM machine in the lobby past the flat-screens and sunburned tourists.

Somehow, I had just enough actual Jacksons and Lincolns to cover the tab and tip. Luckily, I had hit the local ATM before driving to the Cape, never thinking that there were places selling stuff I wanted that didn’t take plastic. I only write a few checks — real estate taxes (got to have proof of payment), Sunday collection basket, like that. Everything else more expensive than a pack of gum, I use plastic.

One of the problems with cash is coins. Pay cash, you get change! Besides pennies at the service station convenience counter’s cup, people are starting to leave nickels and dimes. I end up with change I can’t even throw in my poker can — guys hate it when I ante two dimes and nickel.

So: Who has cash?

Denver pot smokers, interstate travelers without E-Z passes, golf buddies, random tippers ... I can park my car in Burlington at a meter with my credit card; I can buy just about anything in a vending machine with a credit card; I can pump gas; buy groceries; pay bills.

The answer to the question of who has cash, if you mean United States of America legal tender, is: bank tellers, ATM machines, businesses with cash registers, and that suit jacket you sent to the cleaners. According to recent stats, nearly half of all U.S. currency is held outside the country.

Note to Janet Yellen: Think about it!