Long ago when the earth was much younger than it is today, people paid for stuff.
You walked into a store and picked out the stuff you wanted to take home.
You took the stuff over to a counter where there was a nice man who would explain how much it would cost to take the stuff home with you.
There was the price of the stuff, plus sales tax, and that would all add up to a number of dollars and cents – many fewer dollars and cents than today (you could get a chocolate bar for a nickel and a bottle of pop for a dime), but there were also a lot fewer dollars and cents in people’s pockets.
And then you would pull money out of your wallet – actual money: everything a dollar or more was made of colourful bits of paper.
There were ones and twos and fives and tens, and if you were rich, or had just been paid, there were twenties.
You counted out the paper money required to take ownership of the stuff you wanted, and the nice man smiled and counted out your change in pennies (this was long before they were killed), nickels, dimes, quarters, and fifty-cent pieces – yes, those silver half-dollars were quite common.
Indeed, the two-bit pieces and dimes were also silver, until the Hunt brothers almost cornered the silver market, and everyone cashed in their silver coins by having them melted down in the United States, because it was illegal to destroy them in Canada.
But the silver thing was many years after we had started seeing advertisements on TV for something that has destroyed money much more effectively than inflated silver values or demonetizing pennies.
The ads always ended with the same catchy little ditty: “Will that be cash… or Chargex? **chick-chuck**”
The “chick-chuck” sound that closed off the ditty was the sound of credit card machines killing money.
That sound spawned numerous science fiction stories set in futures in which actually having money in your possession meant there was something wrong with you.
Money is not dead yet. But it’s looking very pale.
You can still use money, if you have some – but it’s increasingly difficult to get by if that’s all you have.
Did you know that you can’t even rent tools without a piece of plastic in your hand?