CASH NOT ACCEPTED HERE! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Cash

The first time I saw that sign in a package store, I stood there and gawped. CASH not accepted? But … isn’t cash our money? I mean, isn’t it supposed to be accepted everywhere?

These days, the sign is not so uncommon. A lot of places won’t accept cash. Why not?


Cashiers can’t make change. No one told them how to count backward to get to the right amount. They can’t do basic arithmetic in their head. I;f they are supposed to give you 99 cents and you say “Wait, I’ll give you a penny, and you can give me a dollar,” they look baffled.

If you repeat it, they look frightened. Are you trying to steal their money? Their register says 99 cents and by god, they are going to give you whatever the register says. They do not understand that if you add the penny to that 99 cents, it equals a dollar. It’s what modern math has done to the brains of our youth.

Furthermore, they don’t understand that 100 pennies make up a dollar. I’m pretty sure they are even less sure about half a dollar or quarter (a quarter of what?) and are equally vague about all the other coins. A lot of our quaint American speech — like “two bits” has gone the way of the dinosaur. Two bits equals 50 cents because a quarter is “one bit.” In case you aren’t from around these parts.


The guy with the Saturday night special (a cheap handgun for those of you not up to cop street language) isn’t looking for credit card receipts. He just wants cash to pay his dealer or his bookie or the guy who sells booze down the street.


Even if you know how money works and even if you can count properly, that doesn’t mean that the amount of money in the cash drawer at night is what it is supposed to be. I was (oh so briefly) a cashier before I was really working for a living and I don’t think I ever came out at night with the right amount of money.

Sometimes enough is not enough

I wasn’t short (or long) by much. Usually a few dollars and sometimes, even a few cents. But it’s got to be exactly right or your boss gets peckish about it and is likely to fire you.


The baskets on toll roads often don’t take cash. These days, they just read your license plate and send you a bill in the mail unless you have a “reader” in your car. Why not?

Let us fondly remember the golden olden days when you were trying very hard to drive from New York to Washington D.C. and the entire Garden State Parkway (New Jersey) would only accept cash in its baskets. But NOT pennies because pennies are not real money. Certainly not paper money. So there you are behind someone who is digging through every compartment of his car including the floor, the trunk, glove box et al because he’s missing a nickel.

Squared toll booths?

Traffic cannot flow until he comes up with that nickel and his five pennies don’t count. Or a cop comes by and arrests him for lacking a nickel. I don’t think they hang you for that these days, but the other drivers behind you might.


For that matter, you know those machines that are supposed to take your paper money and give you change? They were very popular for selling lottery tickets.

Except they don’t accept your money because it’s wrinkled. Machines cannot read wrinkles. Or, they don’t have enough change so they just keep your five or ten — and you get a very expensive soda or nothing — in return.

This is why you find elderly people using up the last of their physical strength trying to get a machine to give them their money back (assuming it took it in the first place) or at least give some change in return.


That’s because the cashier can’t tell a real $100 bill from a counterfeit and neither can I. My mother once got $300 in counterfeit money from her bank and they wouldn’t take it back. No, that’s not true. They did take it back, but she got nothing for it. Apparently, we are supposed to know if it’s counterfeit — AT THE BANK.

Banks are not supposed to give you counterfeit money. There are laws about that. That was at least 50 years ago, so $300 was quite a lot of money. In fact, it was school clothing for me and my sister.

So where can you use cash?

      1. Liquor stores. They get cash because a lot of drinkers don’t want it on their credit card. ‘
      2. The grocery store when the power is down and the registers won’t work.
      3. Your bookie only takes cash as does the guy who runs the gambling saloon in the basement of the liquor store.
      4. I never have any cash because even taxis take plastic these days and everything is so expensive, I’d have to carry a big fat roll of cash to even buy groceries.

If you want to look rich, buy 100 single dollar bills plus one 20 to put on top. Everyone will look impressed and you can pay for newspapers for at least a month and a half. Maybe even coffee and donuts!

41 thoughts on “CASH NOT ACCEPTED HERE! – Marilyn Armstrong

  1. Never have I ever seen a “Cash Not Accepted” sign. Maybe it’s a regional thing, but here in the Midwest, we still use a lot of cash. And considering the fact that we can’t even eliminate the penny and one dollar bill without causing a massive public uproar, I doubt that “cashless society” everyone has been predicting since I was a wee baby is coming anytime soon… probably not in my lifetime for sure.


  2. Canada abolished pennies a few years ago. We typically encounter “no cash: at food venues. Makes sense for them, no worries about robberies and books are balanced.


  3. When we first moved to Tasmania nearly all the local stores and tradies were cash only but now almost all of them take cards even for small purchases. I do like to have some cash in my purse but I carry much less than I used to and it lasts longer as I really only use it to buy a coffee every Friday when I meet friends or on Op Shop days when we buy a slice of pizza or some chips for lunch. In other words purchases of under $5.
    I guess I first realised that things were changing when I heard two receptionists at the hotel where I used to work discussing a guest who wanted to pay with cash. They were concerned that the people might be dodgy.
    As for cheques, I haven’t written one in over 15 years.


      • It used to be the same here and in a lot of cases a handyman still prefers cash but I’ve noticed more and more small businesses will either take cards or will invoice me and let me pay via transfer to their account rather than cash in hand.


  4. I still write checks at the grocery store! And at most other stores, too. I pay restaurants in cash, usually hoping that I have enough $1’s or a $5 for a tip.


    • I write checks for house repairs. ALL of these people who cut grass, fix walls and windows won’t take credit cards. It’s almost universal. I used to keep around $40 in my wallet. Now, more like $5..


  5. Even some liquor stores where I live don’t take cash because they don’t want to tempt that guy with the Saturday Night Special. And my local pot dispensary doesn’t take cash OR credit cards. Just ATM cards. And then they charge a $2.50 “convenience” fee for the convenience of allowing you to pay for your pot with an ATM card when there is no other way to pay for it.


    • Our local pot shop is insanely expensive too. There’s a 20% tax on it from Massachusetts, they ONLY take bank cards (and there’s a fee for using the only card they take AND their price are way over the top. It’s cheaper to go back to your old dealer. HE at least has cut his prices!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. When I stopped carrying a purse (to avoid purse-snatchers), I realized carrying cash was much harder than carrying one small credit card. The card fits easily into a pocket along with the driver’s license and insurance card. Cash makes a bulge – and falls out more easily. And forget about those heavy coins! So long as the credit card gets paid off every month, there’s no interest on it. These days, the only time I use cash is if I go to the drive-through at Burger King. Yes, Burger King takes cards, too, but I don’t want to be that person who has to hand the card over, then wait for the paperwork to sign, and then give that paperwork back – and then wait for the food. Takes too long and annoys the driver next in line. I keep one $10 or $20 bill in the car (hidden from view, of course) for just that purpose.


  7. It seems more and more restaurants are cash only, at least on the Cape. Credit cards are free to us who pay for things (if you pay off you balance and have a no fee card) but every transaction costs those who accept them.


    • Carpenters and contractors mostly accept cash or checks only. I think they don’t like paying the fees … and some restaurants, too. But locally, EVERYONE take bank cards because most people don’t carry enough cash to pay for anything much.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, people with small business,like electricians, yard workers, massage therapists and such are cash and check only (or preferred), so I always try to have something for them, but I really carry much cash any more.


        • Carrying cash in our expensive world is not usually practical anyhow. It’s also a lot easier to lose. You pull out a 1 but there’s a 20 attached. Then there’s “what pocket did I leave it in”? I keep a 5 in my wallet, but nothing except a newspaper costs less than $5 anyway.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Sue, I wuz/am a math dunce. Arithmetic? I can calculate in my head the yearly salary of baseball players signing multi-year megamillion salaries. I usually just sigh.


      • I was never mathematically minded…but I still know how to do the needful. Especially algebra, where ‘x’ is the unknown disaster that screws your careful budget 😉


    • The kids don’t think they need to know it. They think “i’ve got a calculator, why would I need to?” Doesn’t occur to them that calculators run out of batteries, your phone runs out of batteries, etc. Of course, this isn’t helped when parents’ answers to teens and young adults not being able to balance accounts is “there’s an app for that.” Really? Thanks for making sure your kid fails, mom!

      Here’s a really good article about this “app” phenomenon. I thought it was an Onion article at first, and shuddered when I realized the truth. Parents, please don’t be like these people:

      Counting money is one of the most difficult things I’ve come across in tutoring kiddos. they just don’t get it (of course, they don’t see actual money being used very often anymore, either). I’ve worked with middle school kids who can’t grasp elapsed time or change counting, or it takes forever.


  8. Terrific piece!

    – Wudda been great in “Blazing Saddles” when Slim Pickens and his moronic posse stop for a faux toll booth in the desert.
    – Cash is easier to loose if you don’t have DEEP pockets. I speak from sad experience.
    – Cash disappears when it is time to divvy up the dinner bill and you have a tightwad in your group.
    – Crisp, new 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar bills are very sexy to touch. I speak from memories of the dim past.
    – Cash puts the zing in ka-ching!

    Liked by 3 people

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