Apparently, cash is no longer king.

I’m standing at the branch of a nameless mega-national bank to deposit money into my out-of-state daughter’s account. It is the first of the month and rent is due in another time zone.

“I’m sorry, but we do not accept cash,” said the bank teller.

On the counter between the teller and me are five crisp $100 bills, so new the bouquet of the distinctive ink still leaves a trail when handling. The edges of each bill so sharp, mishandling could risk getting a paper cut.

I look down at the bills between us. I can see a shock on the face of Benjamin Franklin, whose portrait graces the currency.

“You’ll need to go get a money order and come back,” she said.

Benjamin Franklin’s face is now wincing.

“But this is cash,” I said. “Like real money.”

The teller then drops her get-out-of-jail-free-card in hopes of ending any further discussion.

“Sorry, that is our policy.”

I take a breath. Looking down I see Benjamin Franklin’s hand planted squarely on his forehead, his eyes closed.

“But this is real cash and I’m only trying to put it my daughter’s account — the one she has with you, this bank.”

The clerk repeats the distancing phrase, this time completely absent of any discernible emotion. Nothing I can say is going to change the situation. Turning around, the man in line behind shrugs his shoulders.

I turn back, reach down and pick up bills. I notice Benjamin Franklin has pulled a horse around. Franklin was always a smart man with a keen political sense. He must be sensing his job may no longer be secure and it is time to get out of town.

Together, Benjamin Franklin and I leave the bank, he on his horse, and me on foot to find an 89-cent money order.

Days later, my concerns slowly fading, I walk into a local pizza delivery shop. Handing the man behind the register a bill, his hand pauses in mid-motion.

Having a flashback, I ask if they take cash.

“Yes, but not too often,” he said.

The next few minutes are consumed with conversations between he and the manager sharing passwords and codes to get the register to open. Finally, the clerk squats down, disappearing from view, and the register springs open.

I don’t have the courage to look down at the portrait of Andrew Jackson, afraid Benjamin Franklin has spent the week sharing his traumatic bank experience.

The young clerk, as polite as can be, delicately hands me my change, a couple bills, and five coins. I sense that touching cash is not something he’s particularly familiar doing — his fingers touching the currency like it might be carrying some sort of long-forgotten plague.

Putting away my change, I notice George Washington looking back up at me. His mouth is open as if he’s seen a ghost. All I can figure is Franklin and his horse are back at the mint spreading the word.

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

President & Publisher

(11) comments

Brian Tamney

The pizza clerk I can understand, but the bank clerk would of gotten an earful, good job keeping your cool.

Jarvis Buckley

What a world we live in.

Chris Tucker

I agree the world is being turned upside down. I recently learned if I want cash from my bank account they now require your Social Security number! Additionally if I want to deposit cash (regardless of the amount) I am required to provide my social security number! Needless to say I will very soon be changing banks. See you later Capital One!

Victor Krc

Try a credit union. I am happy with mine - JSCFCU

George Croix

Can't fix stuff like that....

Raymond Lewis

Never heard of such. Now your cash deposit cost you 89 cents more.

Carlos Ponce

Find another bank if you don't like their policies.

Emile Pope

Zelle...

Carlos Ponce

"And the second beast required all people small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark— the name of the beast or the number of its name." Revelation 13:16-17

Dan Freeman

Ben and Andrew could have looked right on the bill where it reads: “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.” But neither the bank nor the pizza clerk committed a federal crime if the policy was clearly stated before the incursion of a debt. They do not need to accept credit cards or postal orders either. Here is the statement from Department of Treasury: "The pertinent portion of law that applies to your question is the Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled "Legal tender," which states: "United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."

This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in pennies or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy.

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/Currency/Pages/legal-tender.aspx

In God we trust, all others pay cash, unless someone says otherwise.

George Croix

I've been married for 45 years....can somebody remind me what cash is......[beam][beam]

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