Monday, February 17, 2014


What's in your pocket? Can I have it?

It happened again yesterday.

I should have known. I should have been prepared. I should have expected it.

Notice those words? should and have. I should have. But why?

Life here is odd some ways. You have to be on guard. You have to remember to be on guard. Even if you know what's coming toward you, and from which direction.

I had to know that this one was coming for me. I should have known. I did know, because it's been happening every couple of days for a long time now. I've been through it before, this nonsense. Just not so totally absurdly.

Ecuador uses U.S. currency. It has since 2000, when the previous currency, the sucre, crashed to a value of absolute zero, plus or minus nothing. And the fun part, if you like crap, is that now, in 2014, there is still dust in the air.

What I mean is that a person has to be careful paying for which with what, and then expecting a reasonable thing to happen.

A twenty is the top end. You could squeak some deals with stacks of Benjamins, but not all. Some. Even then you'd get the big hairy eye. But some things you could do. Like paying your rent. Maybe.

Paper money is suspect. Always. The bigger the bill, the greater the bogus buck passing profit, so people check every bill. They have to. Twenties work. Twenties are acceptable and available, and I use them. Bigger stuff? No idea where to even get it.

I paid a $650 fee with 32 twenties and two fives, not long ago. Business as usual. You carry a wad in your pocket. Then you spend time counting it out, and hand it over. And then the other party counts, and then you're done. Eventually. Life in paradise, OK?

What I can't get over is the constant change crisis. Which is the other problem. The real problem.

For some reason, coins are an endangered species.

I understand a one-person shop not having bags of coins to cover every occasion. Reasonable.

I don't understand a multi-million-dollar businesses with its pants down, every day. Caught out. Permanently in drydock. Like SuperNutzi, the maximum grocery chain.

I believe I can still hear them sighing over my last visit. They pain me. I pain them. Because they have such a hard time getting the change they need from me. Because I expect to get change from them.

True, it could be that they do not know about banks, and how to use banks, and how to plan ahead, and I ought to be more charitable, perhaps, more cooperative. And, stupid me, I'm not.

Take yesterday — please.

I bought cheese and cookies. $6.31. I handed over $6.35.

Boom. Cashier Fuddle Event. Lights flash. Recurring Four-Cent-Problem eruption. Cashier requires pennies. From me. What to do? Emergency. Situation critical.

Situation critical because this giant company does not know how to have change on hand. Customers coming to buy is a big surprise. It throws them off every time. Every time they open the doors for business. Every time they open the doors for business, and someone comes in and makes a purchase, and needs change. Ow.

I always catch SuperNutzi flat-footed. Always. Over pennies and nickels and dimes. Even though Ecuador mints its own. I don't think they know this either.



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