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Geri-Antics: The Ramblings of a Crazy Old Broad

The sign of the times is no longer a dollar sign or a euro symbol, at least not in Sweden.
Most businesses and tourist attractions in Sweden have now gone cashless, including a museum highlighting the music of Swedish rock group ABBA. The group is famous for songs such as “Mamma Mia” and, ironically, “Money, Money, Money.”
There are still some private businesses run by pensioners (seniors) who will accept cash, but for the most part, currency is a thing of the past in Sweden.
As I watched a report on this trend recently, I realized I haven’t carried cash for more than a year. The only currency in my possession are the coins still in the console of my car from bygone days when I tossed the change at the drive-thru into the cupholder.
I now use a debit card at the drive-thru, except when I purchase a soda or something that costs less than $1 or $2.
Change, pardon the pun, is difficult for some people — but overall the trend to go cash-free seems to be happening more and more. I can see pros and cons for going cashless.
On one hand, if you no longer carry cash, you eliminate the threat of having a mugger steal your money. If they take your purse or wallet and get only a debit card, you call your bank and immediately freeze the account rendering the card useless to the thief.
On the other hand, if you’re a senior on a fixed income, going cashless requires you to have a more expensive iPhone in order to get the apps required to navigate the new economy.
If you don’t sign a contract locking you into a two-year agreement with your cell phone provider, an iPhone can cost between $700 and $1,000. If you do sign a contract, the cost of the phone is spread out over the period of the contract in addition to the monthly fee.
Many seniors have opted to purchase a little flip-phone without all the bells and whistles. The phone sells for a mere $30 and costs as little as $20 a month thereafter. No contracts and no frills.
Just yesterday, I went out for a drive on the beautiful sunny day. As I drove around, soaking up the fresh air and sunshine, I decided to pull into McDonald’s drive-thru for a Coke.
Somewhat uncharacteristically, I waited patiently in the long line and read all the signs posted to tempt me to purchase more than just a soda. One such sign touted a new service McDonald’s is offering called Mobile Ordering.
Apparently, you can place your order before you even leave home, with an app, on your iPhone.
Moments later, I watched the new service in progress as the driver in front of me gave the faceless speaker a code number and proceeded on to the cashier’s window. There, she then showed her phone screen to the cashier, and as fast as the speed of light, went right on to the next window where she picked up her order.
In comparison, I had to say, “Large Coke.” I guess that does take longer to type than a four-number code, but as I recall, McDonald’s has little pictures on the cash register keys so it’s entirely possible my Coke required only a one-button maneuver.
Since I had my $1.06 in coins in hand when I arrived at the cashier’s window, I don’t estimate it took me any longer to hand the lady my four quarters, one nickel, and one penny than it did for the tech-savvy driver to produce her cell phone.
Both of us received a printed receipt. Hers was a lengthy, substantial receipt, while mine wasn’t even large enough to fold. To be fair, the cashier did have to sort my coins into her cash register.
Maybe someday I’ll get with the program and do everything online. Or maybe, I’ll just take the money I save with my little flip phone and order an entire Value Meal.

Anne Carmichael is a lifestyle columnist who contributes monthly to the Jessamine Journal.