Paper, Not Plastic
Day 008 – July 30, 2011
This is odd.
We’re at our local grocery store and I’m doing math. If you would like me to be more specific, I am doing mental math by keeping a running total in my head of all the products currently in our cart. This internal computation must be done because we only have X number of soles on our persons. Therefore, we need to ensure that our grocery bill (let’s call that sum, y)for this Saturday outing is less than X.
Keeping a running sum in one’s head while moving up and down brightly-lit aisles dodging sample suppliers is difficult enough on the face of it. In addition to keeping the figures straight, I have other thoughts that collide inside my cranium such as…
How much was the milk again?
When I add the yogurt total of S/.5.75, should I round up or down?
Was the price on the apples by the kilogram or the piece?
However, making this arithmetic juggling more difficult is the fact that we have three children running around with us. While they are lovely and adorable, they require some level of maintenance. So, while I am contemplating concepts such as “carrying the 3” and “rounding to the nearest 10s digit”, we also have to make sure that our daughter does not plunk into our cart the sugary cereal with the Nordic-esque character…
…and that neither of our sons accidentally drops a 4-kilogram bucket of ketchup on themselves.
The concept of ensuring that y < X is not something I am used to while shopping. This is because, while living in the States, we had a debit card, credit card, or other form of plastic that allowed us to purchase our groceries without the need of having paper money in our wallets.
This is odd.
As we are enjoying our eighth day in Peru and no longer in the States, the concept of “buy-now-pay-later” does not work for us here. We cannot whip out the plastic and pay for everything in our cart. We cannot shop impulsively and simply drop items we want in our basket because we have to make sure that y < X.
We find ourselves currently living in a cash society and it is odd.