Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cash Culture

After living here for nearly two years, you would think I have adjusted to many of the ways of German life. But I haven't. Don't get me wrong, I do feel well-adjusted here, but I am still surprised at the things that still get to me. Like the shops being closed on Sundays (and ALL holidays). That means this weekend (Easter weekend) everything will be closed Friday, Sunday, and Monday. That is just inconvenient.

Another thing that still gets me is how much of a cash culture it is here. It seems nearly impossible to use a credit card or a debit card - at least when you compare it to life in the US (or even Sweden) where you can buy a stick of gum with a credit card. I have definitely been caught cashless and have had to come back to a store to complete my purchase. Now I know better and am usually prepared.

But when I do pay with a card (at the grocery store, for example), I feel like I am the exception to the rule. People bust out two fifties to pay for their groceries. I can't even imagine when or why I would ever have $100 in my wallet in the US. You just don't use cash.

And when I am standing there, waiting for my card to go through at the cash register, I feel like I am really holding up the line. The machines are really slow. I always think of those visa check commercials where everyone is paying with their check cards and everything runs so smoothly. Then someone comes in to pay with cash, and it causes total chaos. It feels like the opposite here.

When people pay with cash, they often use exact change. It is not uncommon to stand behind someone who is digging through their coins to come up with that 0.78, or whatever. And that's where I feel I've adjusted. In the US, that would drive me (or anyone) crazy! But I don't feel badly making everyone behind me wait a little longer as I look for that 2 cent piece. When in Rome...

1 comment:

  1. I still feel strange paying with a fifty! I would never have big bills in the US. And the exact change thing cracks me up.