Wasting money on money
Some call them red money. Others call them brown money. But we all may as well call them dirty money. The 10 cent and 25 cent are the lepers of the currency catalogue.
Apparently, nobody wants them. Beggars are grossly offended if that's all you have to offer. Walk any street in Kingston and they are strewn all around. If they fall in the supermarket, nobody stops to pick them up. And after an unfortunate exchange, I came to learn that quite a few businesses do not accept them as payment.
I made a midweek drive-through run to a finger-licking chicken establishment and my bill was $659. Trying to be helpful, I gave the cashier exact change - down to a $5 coin, two $1s and eight 25-cent coins.
She handed me back my brown money and announced, "We don't tek that here," waiting for me to replace them with currency of a lighter hue. I told her that's what I had, and put back the $2 worth of dirty money into the coin receptacle.
She proceeded to open the service window and repeat her sentence - this time speaking more slowly and enunciating as you would when speaking to someone from a foreign country. I stood my ground.
Eventually, after many scowls and contortions of her face, she handed me my meal and returned my cursed brown money.
I wonder if she knows just how much brown money I have saved at home. And that purely out of principle, I'm considering returning to buy a 21-piece party pack with only 10s and 25s.
Last I checked, brown money was legal tender. If that changed, I missed the memo. And what I know of legal tender is that you don't choose whether or not you want to take it. It must be accepted when I offer it to you in payment for goods or services.
I have come to understand that most food establishments won't accept brown money, neither will bus and taxi drivers, nor furniture or jewellery stores. Funny enough, there are BANKS that won't accept the coins.
I say all of this to say this: Perhaps we need to rethink these two denominations. Money isn't really free. It costs us to mint it and transport it to Jamaica from where it is minted. And coins are heavy, so the freight costs can't be cheap.
I think we should just make a decision to stop manufacturing brown money - and take them out of circulation. It's an inconvenience to businesses, purses and pockets everywhere, and one which most Jamaicans don't seem to appreciate or see the value of. Any saving, even a small one, that the Bank of Jamaican and, by extension, the Government can make, should be made. We are a country on a budget, and the money we waste on printing brown money can be put to better use elsewhere.
But until we do, brown money is still money, and I have a right to pay any bill I want with it. We don't get to make up the rules; and impose our made-up rules on other people. And certainly as a service-hinged business, made-up rules that go against the laws of the land are a no-no.
Sorry if brown money isn't your currency of choice; however, if I can get it as change, rest assured that you will get it as payment. No discrimination.
P.S.: Anyone who wants to give me $1,000,000 in brown money, feel free. Oonu see how quick I tek it.