Monday, July 3, 2006

Where have all the Quarters gone?

Where have all the Quarters gone?

I ask because on more than one occasion recently have I received change back from a purchase where the cashier went out his or her way to give me anything but quarters.

I used to work as a cashier so I know that if you are running low on quarters, it is perfectly acceptable to substitute six dimes and three nickels for 75 cents. When this happens once on a weekday afternoon (Wednesday), you think nothing of it. When it happens twice on a weekday
afternoon, you notice but go on with your day. However, when it happens four times, you have to wonder if there is a shortage taking place. In two of the instances, I was asked insistently if I had pennies so that I would receive dollar bills in my change rather than change that would have consistently usually of quarters. I said no and was treated as if I was a liar or worse. I also received more change than I ever could have conceived of in my life.

This pattern of "no quarters in my change" has continued for about a week. It seemed as if there was a silent boycott of ol' George. Only at the bank did I find an exception to the rule but the teller made it seem as if she were making an exception to hand me 40 cents that consisted of a dime, a nickel and a quarter.

I am sure there are many theories as to how this situation came about. Some would place the blame squarely on sales and meal tax , which never work out evenly. Others would blame the penny. Pennies are small and annoying to carry around. It seems like a lifetime would go by before you end up in a situation where the total charge is $4.02 and you have the 2 cents on you to pay $4.02 instead of the more likely scenario, where you have either $5.00 or $10.00 and no change.

Still another would place the blame square on coin-op laudromats, coin-op laundry rooms and the hours of the local bank. Laundry is a necessity and unfortunately for those who do not own a home, they must rely on the coin-op. Those who travel to the local laundromat have the convenience of the every present changemaker that is usually located by the soap. Those who don't have to travel find that there is a price to be paid for the convenience of having a laundromat in the apartment building. The price is the weekly or monthly hunt for quarters. Quarters can be obtained at the local bank, assuming that you are able to make it during business hours. If you are not able to, your options are limited. Slowly and surely in some cities, token booth collectors that could once be counted on to provide change are being phased out in favour of rechargeable fare cards. Local stores of course can be selective about whether or not they will give a person change for a dollar without purchase of an item.

Well, I have no answers as to why quarters are looking to be an endangered species. I do know that I better remember how to count change in dimes and nickels and I need to buy a purchase to hold all of the change that it seems I will now accumulate.

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