I knew I should have taken a pill before I left, but I always lie to myself and think the headache will go away.
It did not go away. I was sitting in an overly air conditioned room, not able to get lunch and the headache was bigger than my head. I longed for that pill I hadn’t taken. Then I realized there was a pharmacy located only a short elevator ride away.
OF COURSE! Grab my wallet and relief would soon be mine.
No line, thank heaven, so I stare through the fog of pain at the legion of pain pill choices. I finally make my selection and turn to find a line of three people.
WHY?! Three people and it’s not moving. I want to get relief. I have a geologic age to contemplate the unfairness as I stand in my same place in the line.
The helpless outrage bubbles up to realization: I don’t have to wait.
I can step outside the social contract; I can open this bottle while standing here. My civilization-trained soul rises up in alarm.
Open it? Without PAYING for it? It’s not done.
Well, I have my credit card. I will pay for it as soon as my turn comes, but the pill with start its work immediately.
What if the credit card machine is broken?
I have cash. DONE. I pierced the safety seal and swallowed my gel cap. Was it psychosomatic? I don’t know, but my pain lessened immediately.
And I Felt So Empowered. I was in control of my destiny! I didn’t have to follow these rules. I wasn’t stealing, but I made it work for me.
It made me think about the purpose of money. And how money works. What if I needed that medicine and I didn’t have money? What would I have done? I’d have to barter something…I had a chapstick in my purse. But a used chapstick is not equivalent to a bottle of Aleve. I’d have to throw in something else. A pen? My cell phone? No, that’s too much.
Money makes this so much easier. What else could I have done? Mop the floor? But then I’d probably have to mop it before they would give me the pills. And I could live with a headache, but when it came to something like water or food, that would be a very difficult situation
This “extreme” situation is on my mind for two reasons. First, I’m reading a book about the depression. During the 1930s, the Brain Trust of the feds did some magic tricks that resulted is physical money not being available. At that time, money was mostly the sort that you could touch. The fanciest it got was a bank check, pretty much. So, if the factory boss comes up to the end of the month and has no dollar bills to give his employees their pay, what is he supposed to do?
The Second reason I am thinking about this is because we are in the middle of a banking AND international currency crisis. The Euro dollar is very close to cracking right now.
But that leads me to ponder the great benefit we are given by having a reliable system for value exchange…AkA Money.
If the money system broke down, everything would grind to a halt. I mean, we have stuff to barter, but figuring out the exchange would take forever. We would spend hours just trying to figure out how many beans are worth how many grains of rice. And by the time we struck a deal, the kids would be crying because they wanted dinner.
If money didn’t exist, even for a day, we would have to invent it again.
We built the tower of Babel with our world economy and currencies. We should keep it health and appreciate what it does for us.