New Ways to Pay

At the grocery store this morning, I noticed a brightly colored, metal kiosk offering bit coins. It was right next to the lottery ticket kiosk. I buy a lottery ticket once in a while but have never bought bit coin, mostly because I don't know what they are. Are they real, tangible, like a credit card that I can drop into some slot or type in a number or are they virtual, like the cloud that hovers somewhere in the vicinity of my computer, keeping my writings safe and sound? FYI, my cloud went with me to Florida this winter and luckily, I didn’t have to pay an extra airline fee, like I did for my suitcase. Give them time!

I looked bit coins up and discovered they are computer files, and there are twenty-one million of them. Holy Guacamole. I went to a site called bit coins for dummies (that would be me) and thought it might help, but I didn’t make it through the first paragraph and gave up. Too much techno talk. Perhaps I should buy one or a fistful, but I don’t know what they are or how to use them. Do Internet stores, like Amazon, accept them or are they only for investing and high finance? I’ll have to ask my granddaughter who will roll her blue eyes at me and say, “Grandma, don’t you know anything?”

I recall getting my first credit card. I had finished college and was leaving for Camp Pendleton, my first Marine Corps duty station. I had just bought my first car (a repossessed 1966 Opel Kadett, for $1,800). My dad suggested that I get a gas credit card and he and I went to a second-story office on Idaho Street in Boise, and I applied, and he co-signed because I had no credit history. It was a Mastercharge card, (later becoming Mastercard), but not everybody accepted credit cards at that time so when I went to pay for gas, I had to watch for the Mastercharge logo or roll out $.35 cash for each gallon of gas. It doesn’t sound much now, but it seemed like a lot then. On the same trip after ordering my new credit card, my dad and I went to the auto parts store and he bought me a Desert Water Bag because I was going to drive all the way to California alone and he thought I needed to be prepared for an overheated radiator. Everybody had one, a water bag, that is, not a credit card. Nobody had credit cards.

The next thing I was subjected to for payment was using S & H Green Stamps. On my way out the door to be a gung-ho Marine, my mom tucked an empty S & H Green Stamp book in my purse, “Don’t buy anything from anybody if they don’t give out Green Stamps and paste them in immediately because they are valuable, and you never know when someone will steal them. Good advice, but it meant that I had to also watch for businesses that had the S & H logo as well as Mastercharge. BTW, no one ever stole my S & H Green Stamps, and I bought my daughter’s first highchair with the stamps I had hoarded. Thanks, Mom!

A couple years ago, I was introduced to Venmo, which I have grown to accept even though I am still a little leery about how it works. Beto, my more-dependable-than-life-itself mowing and yard worker, loves Venmo and one of my main goals in life is to keep him happy, no matter what. So Venmo has become a staple.

I’ve become more comfortable with virtual everything during the last year, having attended meetings, funerals, and medical appointments virtually, but the bit coin thing is not on my wish list yet. Sometime soon, I’ll figure it out and take advice from people who know.

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Mask up! Thanks!