Cash Economy

St. Patrick

St. Patrick

Another day of catching up.

It seems that I have missed two days in a row.  Let me explain what happened.

I wrote about the fact that I was in Casper for a couple days for out clergy Institute.  On Tuesday, after a full day of meetings and topped off with Mass, I had visions of checking into a comfortable hotel room, then getting something to eat, followed by some work and a good nights rest.

I approached the front desk at the hotel and told the clerk my name.  She pulled out the reservation form and said “We’ll need a credit card” for the room.  I had reserved the room and paid in advance, but this was standard procedure so I reached into my pocket for my wallet and discovered – nothing!  My pocket was empty.  In my other pocket I carry a small pocket knife and chapstik.  They were missing also.  I came to the abrupt realization that my wallet, which held my credit cards and cash, along with insurance information and my driver’s license, was sitting on my dresser in Cheyenne, 180 miles away.

Oh my.

Fortunately, I had just stayed in this motel a few nights before and the clerk recognized me. After making sure the card on the reservation form was the one I wanted to use, she gave me the keys to my room without further documentation.

I carted my things up to my room and sat in despair, wondering what I was going to do.  No money, no credit, no ID.  My gas tank was empty, and I couldn’t even drive home if I wanted to.  I had to get some cash, and had to do it right away.

I texted one of my priest friends who was back at the Institute and asked if I could borrow some cash.  No answer, which was real unusual because his phone never leaves his hands.  I was getting real hungry at the time, too, and feeling a bit of desperation start to set in.

I drove to the Institute at St. Patrick’s church, which is where I found my friend. He had not seen my text until I asked him about it, and he immediately started to take me to his car where he had some cash. Before we took another step, another priest friend asked what was going on and we explained the situation to him. He said “I have a bunch of cash in my wallet right here!  Take what you need.”  So I did.

First stop was the gas station.  Now when I fill my gas tank, I ALWAYS use a credit card and fill right from the pump without going inside.  This time I walked into the store and handed the clerk some cash. She asked what I was doing and said I didn’t have to prepay.  I filled my tank and then headed off to get something to eat.

When I returned to my room, I came to the realization that my situation was not desperate at all, but rather of series of incredible blessings.  First, I had a warm and comfortable hotel room. Second, I have friends who will help me out without any hesitation.  Third, if my priest friends had not been able to help me, I knew of at least a half dozen other places I could have gone to get a bed and some food, and money for a tank of gas to get home.  God has blessed me abundantly with loving friends who would help me without question.

And finally I learned a little about what it must be like to live in a cash economy.  I am spoiled in that I can pull out a credit card from my wallet and pretty much get all my needs taken care of.  If I had to depend on cash for everything, and if I didn’t have access to a bank, the situation requires more planning and thought.  There are plenty of people in our world for whom a bank is just not an option, and their lives are more challenging than many of us can imagine.

Thanks be to God for my forgetting my wallet.

I didn’t post the last two days because of just being too tired to write anything.  The days of an Institute are long, and the drive home Wednesday night was in the snow over ice covered roads, and in the darkness to boot.  It was terrifying.

Thanks be to God for getting me home. And thanks be to God for allowing me to post this tonight.

PS – The photo is the stained glass above the choir loft at St. Patrick’s Church in Casper.


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