Coins Never Fail to Stick to Their Fingers

Published: 14th May 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th May 2014 12:48 AM   |  A+A-

The only excuse for any auto driver not repaying us the balance in the excess fare we pay him in currencies for the trip at any hour of the day would be his ever-ready remark, “this is my boni (the first trip) of the day”, washed down by unfailingly turning the upper pocket of his half-sleeved shirt inside out. In our hurry to get going, we mostly forgo the paltry balance of a five or a two-rupee coin.

How abashed we feel when the conductor insists on tendering him the exact fare for tickets even when we board the bus at the last but one stop or two in its route needs no mention. When we whip up a tenner or a 20-rupee note instead of paying the exact fare, he scribbles the balance on the reverse of our ticket for us to receive it from him at a farther stop. Quite a few of us fail to collect it before alighting provided the balance is scarcely to the tune of a fraction of a tenner.

The embarrassment we suffer, when venturing out without coins of lower denominations in hand, does not end with our travel in public conveyances. It leaps into our transactions at the grocery and also in some department stores where our experiences of cash-purchase are unique. We jib at the small biscuit packets or the toffees the man at the cash counter offers us in lieu of the change he owes out of our bill amount—a gimmick he mostly employs to promote the sale of the stuff that otherwise would remain rotting. Stealing a quick glance into the drawer of the table before him we will find a repository of coins in it. Our reluctance to accept the balance of amount in kind rather than cash, what with a dearth of change with him, would only keep us waiting for the cash he might receive from some other customer.

In our tearing hurry, we mostly quit the shop receiving whatever the person at the counter thrusts upon us at that mortifying moment.

Well aware that customers at department stores purchase items at prices lower than elsewhere, the cashier lets one and two-rupee coins stick to his fingers, confident that they wouldn’t insist on getting them refunded. At times customers stir out of the store oblivious of the change they have to obtain from the cashier. This amount surely slips into his pocket. However much he may thus gain—a la “the miller with a golden thumb” in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales—we do forgo the spot of cash at these stores.

We should forget about receiving the change from the auto and cab drivers and also those at the cash counters of some department stores, or else hark back upon rehash of those pure leather purses with two or three folds in them that had been in use till the middle of the last century. Those purses were roomy enough to hold quite a handful of coins and currencies of all denominations, besides having spacious pouches in them for keeping visiting cards.

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