THE DAY THE ATMs WENT DOWN

Dateline: Uxbridge, Massachusetts 

It was an ordinary day in southern New England. Late summer and at least it wasn’t raining as it had for most of the summer. The leaves were pondering the possibility of changing color with hints of yellow along their edges. Usually, this is one of our best times in the year, but this had been a strange year which was following an even weirder year. For us, it had begun as an ordinary day. Except then, we ran out of half-and-half — and disaster struck our small town.

In any other household, the lack of half-and-half might not have seemed a really major issue. It surely would not have required an emergency trip to town. In this house of addicted coffee drinkers, we would not survive a day without half-and-half. To avert the crisis, it fell to Garry to drive to Hannaford.

That’s our grocery store, the one we patronize. Not big or fancy. Even by local standards, it’s a modest store, but that’s one of many reasons we like it. Prices are usually pretty good. The produce is fresh. They offer locally-grown stuff in the summer. Squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers. They are close to home, easy to get to, and have plenty of parking. You don’t need a special card to get the discounts — and they offer a 5% Senior Citizens discount every Tuesday.

I was in the middle of a book — I usually am — so I didn’t pay a lot of attention as Garry went out. It was a simple errand. Buy a jug of half-and-half, come home. Half an hour, maximum.

Instead, he didn’t come home for several hours, rather longer than an errand of this type should take. Garry looked amused. He was smiling to himself. Something had happened and I wanted the story.

“There is shock and confusion in downtown Uxbridge, today,” he announced.

“Shock and confusion?”

“Yes,” Garry said. “I thought everyone might be suffering from PTSD from 9/11 or our changing climate. Everyone in Hannaford’s looked stunned.”

“Stunned? Because?” I questioned.

“The credit card readers were down. You couldn’t pay with your bank or credit card. Everyone had to pay cash or use a check. They looked shell-shocked. Thousand-yard stares. Stumbling, vacant-eyed around the store.”

“Holy mackerel,” I said. “I can only imagine.”

“You could see them mumbling to themselves. They kept saying ‘cash!’ I could tell they were confused and unsure what to do.”

“Wow,” I said. “How dreadful! What did you do?” I asked. Garry seemed to have survived with his sense of humor intact and brought home the half-and-half.

“Oh, I paid with cash. I had enough on me. The lines were just very long because people got there and were told the machines were down and just stood there. They had no idea what to do. It’s possible some of them are still standing there.”

He went off to the kitchen chuckling to himself. I hoped everyone would be okay back in town. A shock like that can haunt people for a long time. Cash. Imagine that! Everyone will be talking about this for weeks.

The day the machines went down at Hannaford’s. That’s huge.



Categories: Anecdote, Blackstone Valley, Humor, Photography, Shopping

Tags: , , , ,

21 replies

  1. I’m one of the cash carrying brigade. I use it a lot less than I used to. At one time there was a minimum purchase with cards but now you can use them for even the smallest thing. I do like to have some cash for if I’m buying a coffee or maybe something else that costs under $5. I just feel uncomfortable having no money at all on me. I used to withdraw about $80 for the fortnight but now I find about $20 in my purse will last quite a while.

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    • I actually bought fish and chips from the local shop today and paid cash ($18) When I put the change in my purse I found that I had about $20 in coins in there. Much more than I thought.

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  2. Good, this reinforces my mocked and outdated insistence on carrying cash with me everywhere.

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  3. Cash is beginning to come back here. Before the pandemic, I always had cash available — through the first year of pandemic madness, I managed to spend the $80 cash I began with, without needing to visit the ATM — I still carry very little with me, as credit cards work just as well (except when the machines go down!)

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    • I don’t really bother. The amount of money I’d need to do anything is more than I’d normally take out of the bank. I should have more than the nothing I usually have, though, but I’m out so rarely it hardly matters.

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  4. Cash? That word sounds familiar. Something I seem to recall from my childhood. But now, I just can’t remember what it is. Oh well, maybe my mind has turned to mush and it’s time for me to cash in my chips. Ah, “cash in my chips.” Yes, now I remember. It has something to do with potato chips. Am I right?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I never carry any cash with me. I’d be up a creek.

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    • Me neither. Garry always insists on carrying some cash. I suppose this is why, but when I have any cash, either Garry needs it or my granddaughter (used to) need some. Now, my granddaughter takes pretty good care of herself, but Garry is always short of cash so I have some and then, gone. I’d just have had to leave the store and come back the next day or later.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I always have some cash on me. When my parents were suddenly aware that my sisters were starting to date, they insisted on them having a little “mad money”, at least enough for public transportation if needed. Even tho there was little chance that I might get into the kind of trouble predicted for girls at the time, the concept stuck with me. I’m sure Garry skipped to the head of the line, paid cash, with a big grin on his face, that ,obviously, lasted until he got home. The irony, not the amount of time is the key here.., and I’m sure you were not unhappy to have the “Half ‘n’ Half either.

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  6. IT REMINDS ME OF THE TIME A CASHIER LOOKED SHOCKED WHEN I GAVE HER CASH AND ASKED FOR CHANGE. SHE DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE CHANGE, SO I HAD TO SHOW HER.

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  7. Made me giggle – the younger generation will probably fall down in shock if this happens to them as they don’t even use credit cards but their phones to pay for anything. Not sure some of them know what cash is!

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