Adventures in The Brave New World | JIM FURLONG

It was the purchase of a used pickup truck that took me into the shadows of the new reality that grips us in the 21st century. The truck was a beater, as the expression goes. That expression covers a vehicle which is far from new but is something that runs okay. It is just used to “beat around”. The truck was a decade old so the first thing I needed to do was give it a good cleaning up. Up I went to the vacuum place and car wash up The Shore.

By way of context let me share the observation that the price of using the vacuum machine at the car wash has gone from $2 to $3 which is astounding because the price of the electricity which drives the machine hasn’t gone up by 50 per cent. That is a story for another day. I only had a $10 bill on me because nobody carries cash anymore as you know so I went to a bank along the way to change my 10. I haven’t been in a bank in years. The last time I was in one I think was to sign mortgage papers or something. My vacuum machine at the car wash didn’t care about that or didn’t want to hear a lecture on changing economics. The machine’s needs were simple. It wanted a toonie and a loonie.

I lined up at the bank. There was just one person ahead of me. He was, like me, older than dirt. It reminded by of Canadian Tire store on a weekday morning or Sunday church. The people you see are generally old. Soon my turn came and the nice teller (if they still call them that) motioned me forward and greeted me with a pleasant, “Can I help you?” She seemed nice enough and I told her I wanted a $10 bill changed into three toonies and four loonies. My expectation was that she would just reach into the till and give me my coins. She then asked me if I was a member of that branch of the bank and if I had a bank card. Like a fool I asked why she needed to know that. I was polite and was just curious. The bank lady told me that she couldn’t make change unless I was part of their system. I was rocked to my boots. I was looking to break a $10 bill and vacuum my truck, not finance a hostile takeover of the bank.

She was nice and took the time to explain it to me that this was a “branch” and its job was to look after its own bank clients. Now somewhere in here it dawned on me that while this wasn’t my branch it WAS my bank so that gave me some legitimacy in terms of being entitled to change a $10. I thought this is where this movie would end, and the nice teller lady would just give me three toonies and four loonies. Nope. She wanted my bank card and then went off to a computer behind her. It flashed and whirred and within a few seconds she returned to the counter with my coins. I remarked how the world had changed and she agreed. That was nice. It confirmed my sanity and let me know I hadn’t just wandered into an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Off I went to the vacuum machine with a new understanding of how the modern world works these days. I still have two toonies and three loonies and nowhere to spend them. I threw them in the glove box of the truck where they can rattle around and live until the next car wash.

You can contact Jim Furlong at [email protected]