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Debit or Credit

I went to a liquor store yesterday.  (It’s not something I do often.  A couple of years ago I bought a six pack of beer at Christmastime and still had one bottle left for the 4th of July.  Someone once asked me if I had a drinking problem.  I told them that, indeed I do have a drinking problem; the beer gets warm before I get to the end of the bottle.)  One of the things that makes me a bit uncomfortable in liquor stores is that you can use a credit card to buy booze.  Having run a substance abuse treatment program for over a decade, I see some latent danger in a person with a problem being able to charge their next bottle.

I’m not, however, and won’t be lobbying to prohibit the use of credit at liquor stores.  We are, after all, responsible for our own behavior.  Dealing with the consequences of your irresponsible behavior (personally, professionally, socially and financially) is one of the inherent perils of being an addict.  Prohibiting the use of credit cards in liquor stores wouldn’t stop an alcoholic with a credit card, it would just force them to get a cash advance.

I’m no more comfortable with the idea that you can charge your groceries at the grocery store.  Personally, I think it’s a bad idea.  I don’t even like using a debit card for these kinds of transactions.  But, that’s probably just a function of my age.  Rat Jr. uses a debit card (frequently mine) for everything.  (Of course, she misplaced her checkbook about two years ago and hasn’t written a check since.)

I guess it’s just old farts like me who prefer cash and checks.  I do understand that the (for lack of a better word) “plasticization” of routine financial transactions is part of the modern world.  I just don’t have to like it.  It also leads to interactions like the one I was in yesterday:

Liquor Store Clerk:  Did you find everything OK?

Me (handing her a $20 bill): Yes.

Clerk:  Will that be credit or debit?

Me:  …

Clerk:  ?

Me:  You don’t take cash anymore?

2nd Clerk:  Not very often.

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