Thursday, May 22, 2008

Currency exchange

I think it’s no secret that I loved my trip to New York City. But if I had to pick the biggest frustration during my time in America, it was the God damned money.

I hate American currency. It’s all the same colour, feels cheap (I tore a couple of bills by accident) and it’s a pain in the ass when you’re in a hurry and want to pay quickly differentiating between the different dollar amounts. More than once I stood at a cash and must have looked like an idiot trying to figure out the difference between a $5 and a $20. Yes, I know, the numbers are on the bill. But we all know what I’m talking about. When you’re in a rush or feeling harried, it’s amazing how hard it is to find those numbers.

Canada is a little better. The money is at least different colours and the “paper” feels better. Still, it’s a long way behind Europe. We just got in some Euros in advance of our trip to Italy next month. Different colours and different sizes. My, how intelligent.

Having said all that, I still have it relatively easy. Calm down, take a deep breath and I’ll manage to figure out the US currency, despite how much it pisses me off. But I can only imagine how much it must infuriate blind people who have to deal with it every day. All US currency is the same size, same feel and there’s no Braille or anything ingrained on the money to allow them to tell the difference. So it’s often a crap shoot in trying to figure out what you have and if people are being honest when they make change.

Which is why a bunch of them sued the US government over the issue. And won. The ruling means the US government has to make changes to its current in either size or texture to allow blind people to differentiate between different bills.

This is such a stunningly obvious thing to do that I have no idea why the government opposed it for six years. And will likely appeal it so that it takes several more years before the issue gets dealt with.

Yes, I understand that this will cost money to redesign the money. Plus there’s the psychological impact. Americans are very proud and fussy about their money. There’s a debate about whether or not the penny should be eliminated. I imagine the racket over, say, getting rid of the dollar bill for a coin, and then creating different sized and colour bills might cause some heads to explode.

It’s the logical thing to do, but then again, so is the metric system. I’m half convinced that hasn’t happened in the US because people think it would fuck-up football.

Regardless, this is a good step. I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime in the next five years, but hopefully in the next decade or so, the US can finally get the currency fixed up so it’s not so generic and frustrating. Braille. Would putting some Braille on the currency really be such a terrible thing?

Dare to dream, I guess.

Last Five
1. The Greenland disaster- Figgy Duff
2. Peyote healing - Robbie Robertson
3. She's the one - Bruce Springsteen
4. Attention - The Racounteurs
5. He can only hold her - Amy Winehouse*

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am just getting over my two trips to Florida in 03 and 04. The exchange was .60. Seeing red at an American $20.00 bill put a whole new light on the visual.

Thank heavens for parity when I go to NY next month.

Good luck with that least they have fancy bills!!!