Tapping The Light Fantastic

Source: Intelligent Transport

Can I tell you about our Digital Wallet features?” a bank teller asks me. This has come up after inserting my debit card in her card reader, and I have to enter the password twice because of keystroke errors.

I stare back at the young woman in silence for a moment.

If I say yes, I will hear about things which I don’t understand, or perhaps don’t want to understand.

If I say no, I will appear as old, unprogressive, stubborn, or even afraid.

There is no one else in the bank but myself, the teller, and another young teller observing us. This particular branch, located in an office building I visit once a week for my part-time job, was closed for much of the pandemic and only recently reopened.

Business is slow at the moment, and I am fresh meat for both of these women to motivate me to start using twenty-first century financial transactions. I’m sure all the younger members of my extended family are doing so, and possibly one or two siblings too.

I decide to say yes.

By agreeing, in one fell swoop I cleave both “stubborn” and “afraid” from those perceived character traits of mine.

I feel like entered a time warp. With the branch empty of other customers, I start receiving personalized banking services to such a degree that I’m certain a toaster, some green stamps, and maybe even a hearty handshake from Phil Rizzuto, will be offered when I later exit.

Both tellers begin to jointly explain the benefits of digital payments to me. I learn that not using a physical card — be it a debit or credit card — helps to secure my financial privacy. For instance, they explain that it’s better to use the “tap” features for store purchases, if offered, rather than inserting (or sliding) one’s card into a payment machine at checkout. Better still, I’m encouraged to take advantage of my cell phone’s payment offerings which use digital wallet payment systems via ApplePay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, PayPal, etc.

I mention during the course of this that I’m certain my card won’t allow me to tap because I’ve been unsuccessful when I’ve tried doing so in the past. In hearing this, one of the tellers walks out from behind the glass and joins me in front of the window. She asks if she can test my card to see if it works.

Of course, it taps just fine for her. I ask her if she has any relatives who repair cars for a living; I’m certain I’ve met them.

She then proceeds to show me how to correctly use the tap feature. I quickly discover that I’ve been attempting to tap using the wrong side of the card. This does help to explain some of the exasperated looks I’ve received.

Source: The Odyssey Online

Finally, they offer me a handout the bank has prepared for its customers. It contains step-by-step instructions on how to set up a phone for mobil payment. I thank them both for the information and the lesson on remedial tapping. I also leave with a most progressive self-image, if only for a short while.

When I later arrive home, I excitedly relay all of my newly-found knowledge to Gorgeous. She looks back at me dubiously.

So two young women lavished attention on you, and now you are charging ahead with using your phone to start purchasing in stores? Can’t you just stick with buying things from Amazon on your iPad?

Clearly I need to re-visit how I introduce groundbreaking ideas to her.

The next day, with my knowledge complete about digital payments, I make a beeline for the liquor shop where we buy most of our wine and spirits. This place is the scene of at least one of my previous failures to purchase via tapping, and I was eager to use my newly-learned skills with that debit card now.

The good news is that I definitely tapped correctly. I’d have made Gregory Hines proud.

Source: Giphy.com

The bad news is that for some reason the store’s card reader still doesn’t like my card. The screen this time said “insufficient funds.” I began laughing and desperately wanted to grab my phone to snap a picture for blog posterity. But the store owner once again was clearly not laughing, nor was the woman waiting behind me for that matter. So I quickly inserted the card for a regular point of sale purchase (for which there were, ahem, sufficient funds available).

Determined to be successful, I then made my way over to the dry cleaners. It was here that I finally found a card reader which allowed me to tap my way to consumer heaven. I shouted out a robust “YES!” and added a raised fist in celebration when the reader beeped in confirmation of a sale. I didn’t even bother to glance at the attendant behind the counter. No one was going to harsh my mellow.

My last digital mountain to climb was to successfully make a store purchase using my phone. I waited two days to do this, not wanting to rush the moment. But I woke up feeling refreshed and motivated. Sometimes you just have to let intuition be your guide.

I chose Walgreens. I had a $1.00 coupon in my wallet for toilet paper, and they had a sale on it this week. With confidence but still a beating heart pumping hard in my chest, I walked up to the (thankfully) empty cashier line and placed the toilet paper down on the counter. I felt waves of nostalgia back to the first time I ever bought beer.

I knew to unlock my phone, but what I had forgotten is that you need to keep it upright and facing you. I had my phone turned over the wrong way. The cashier, sensing my nervousness, instructed me to flip it over.

Nothing happened.

Once again the cashier, instinctively knowing it was my first time, displayed such kindness and patience. As I awkwardly aimed the phone to its target, she gently offered one more key piece of advice:

Now place your thumb or finger print on the home button to activate the sale.

Beep!” said my phone. Purchase made. I am now a proud owner of a six-pack package of Cottonelle Ultra CleanCare. Forty some years ago it was Stroh’s that celebrated such a rite of passage. Hm.

The cashier beamed at me. We telepathically agreed that we would never speak of this moment again.

I arrived back home filled with a feeling of accomplishment and aspirational vigor. I relayed my success in gory detail to Gorgeous. She stoically sat and listened to my tale, no doubt very proud of her man.

“Don’t forget to put away the toilet paper under the sink.

Until next time…

56 thoughts on “Tapping The Light Fantastic

  1. I got a lesson on depositing checks with my phone in the spring. The wonderful part is that you can do it in a private spot in your home where no one can judge you. The first time it took many photos before it accepted it but now it’s one swoop and it’s done. I haven’t done a tap purchase yet. Building up courage first. Baby steps. You are my hero!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, thanks! I tried my first mobile deposit last year when it was either that or sit in a drive-thru line since the banks were all closed. It took me several attempts also. And they actually got back to me after my first one because I forgot to write “mobile deposit” under my endorsement. Oops. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Marty, I have tears rolling down my face from so much laughter. The reference to green stamps and Phil Rizzuto got me started and I didn’t stop too often after that. Don’t believe everything these young’uns tell you! At least not all the time!! 🤣🤣😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Please continue with these teaching moments. I only recently ended my holdout from the 21st century, and sadly, my last child is moving away, leaving me in a deep technological abyss.
    You have given me the courage to try tapping.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m in awe of you. I haven’t even attempted the phone pay thing, I’ll have to google a tutorial, because that would make me feel so 21st century. But I love my bank’s mobile deposit option.. I’ll never ever have to stand in line at bank again, which makes me very happy. I’m not a good wait-in-line-for-more-than-five-minutes person. Like Marc Maron says: “i don’t know how much time I have left.”
    Who the hell is Phil Rizzuto? I’m guessing that’s an age-specific reference, but I’m older than you and I’m in the dark about the guy. Is he an east coast thing?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lol In addition to being an east coast thing (NYC), he’s also a baseball thing. Which I also know isn’t in any of your frame of references, Sue! 🙂 But you saw Phil back in the eighties advertising for a boiler room operation called The Money Store. He was everywhere back then.

      I’m with you on the mobile deposit thingy. I wanted to bring that in the post, but it was already too long. Yes, thankful not to stand in line to deposit a check — and my part-time job pays me in checks still!


  5. I feel you are now above me. Now, I have done the tap, but paying with my phone? No, and it sounds pretty scary. What I don’t understand is why were there insufficient funds with a tap but not a swipe? What the heck is going on? Now my son, who lives 700 miles away from us, has probably been doing this digital wallet stuff for years. He carries no cash. Sometimes that comes in handy for him, if you know what I mean. I’m not sure he even knows what cash looks like anymore. I’m sure he doesn’t know what green stamps are! Congratulations on all your digital payment achievements. Just remember Mr. Tech Savvy, you need toilet paper just like the rest of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True enough, Betty, if the pandemic has taught us nothing it’s that we know we need toilet paper! 🙂 I have no idea why the insufficient funds message came up, but I sure knew I had money in that account. That’s why I was laughing, though the owner didn’t find it as funny.

      Laughing at how it comes in handy for your son not to have cash on him. Yes, I do know what you mean. Others carry the load for him when that happens! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, but can those cashiers do the math in their heads when those fancy-schmancy electronic gizmos go AWOL? I may be behind the times, but I can still do the lost art of addition and subtraction (even if I have to use my fingers and toes — thankfully I keep Odor Eaters in my footwear if I have to take off my shoes and socks).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, yes, you bring up a very good point. When the electricity goes, those places are always closing up. Back in my high school days, when I worked at a neighborhood drug store, we just switched over to paper and pencil to ring people up. I was always at my wits end making sure I added correctly — I couldn’t afford to count toes! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This was sooooo funny that I could barely type this comment.
    Still, you will likely never see me paying for anything with my mobile phone.
    This old dog simply does not trust that new trick. But due to your sage warning, I will now avoid bank tellers with nothing better to do! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to offer up some laughs, Donna! I wanted to give it all a try because I see these payments everywhere now, so I figured it was only a matter of time. Better to know about it just in case it’s forced on all of us someday! 🙂


  8. Hehehe congrats Marty! Huge step! As for me I’m still tapping! Not into the phone wallet thingy! And lately I’ve been using my cards at the supermarket to pay and to withdraw money. Apparently if you withdraw in the same transaction as your purchase there’s no fees!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the solidarity, Vy. Gorgeous gets all of her cash that way (at the supermarket). I do that sometimes, though they tend to only want to give the bigger bills ($20s mostly), and I always prefer $1’s and $5’s if possible. So when I do go to the bank, I load up on those.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh over here they give out anything you ask for if they’ve got it in their till as the ATMs only spits out $50s unless you say you want $80 or something to make them spit out $20. ATMs are not that smart!
        We don’t even use cheques anymore unless you want a bank cheque. My pay goes straight into my account.


      2. Well, it’s not a requirement. 😃 But yes, for tips at Starbucks, etc. You can add via the card reader usually, but they appreciate the actual cash. Oh, and I like the small bills for the occasional lottery ticket too. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Marty, Marty, Marty – I love this post. 🙂 I’ve been doing the online deposits for a couple of years, and it is very convenient. Of course, I did need my granddaughter to show me how. 🙂 Once I found out how well that worked, I also use the online system for submitting Health Saving Account reimbursements. I’ve tried tapping and it works some of the time, but it is embarrassing when it doesn’t. I don’t pay anything with my phone. I’m always concerned what if I lose the phone, then what. My age is showing, I know. As always, thanks for the chuckles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that I’m doing them on a fairly regular basis, I don’t know why I hadn’t caught on to the mobile/online deposits earlier. It took COVID to introduce it to me! Better late than never, I guess. The only time I do deposit at the bank is when I want smaller bills back such as 1’s and 5’s. I know, I have the same fears about losing the phone and then wondering how I’ll function. I’ve made sure to memorize most of the important phone numbers for family just in case. People don’t even know phone numbers anymore like we all used to. Glad you got some laughs, Judy! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I get it – the sense of accomplishment! Well done, Marty. I have yet to use Apple Pay or any of the cards I stored in my Apple Wallet. Now that you are a digital guru, can you tell me how to get my vaccine card saved to my Apple wallet…or anywhere else more easily accessible on my phone than sitting in my photos??? Anyone?!?!?!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, good question, Deb. I haven’t actually had to show my vaccine card to anyone ever, but I too am just keeping a picture of it in my phone’s photos. It would be good to have it be in a safer, more official place. Of course, those vaccine passports were supposed to take care of this, but like everything else it became political. Ugh.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Deb and Marty..I’ve just opened Note on my iPhone and created a new note. It then let you take a photo or choose a photo from your library. That way it’s filed!
      Another way is to have Google keep. Google keep let you file everything under a name. So you could make a file to say Vaccine card.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Way to go, Marty! I can totally relate to your story, because I too am stubborn and afraid of technological change. I will remember you next time I tap my card; and I will pump my fist when the machine makes that happy little beep.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I just recently tapped my card. I also had it the wrong way the first time. I use PayPal and other online ways to pay for things but nothing from my phone. And the cash thing. My husband never has cash but I always do so guess who’s always prepared?? Only cash works in an obscure bait shop in the middle of nowhere!!! Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. On the grid for a day and then off the grid again for awhile…where do I visit?….Marty, of course.🙂

    I do not believe “old” is synonymous with unprogressive, stubborn or even afraid. I have also been known to be in denial.

    Ha, ha, about repairing cars…….geez……this happens far too often.

    Another….geez….about insufficient funds when tapping versus not……

    Yes, “Until next time…” possibly bitcoin??😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The grid is overrated, Erica! I’ve been enjoying your stunning photos on Instagram, so I hope you continue to post them there.

      Ah, yes, my old friend denial. We’ve traveled many a road together, and I suspect our journeys aren’t over yet. 😉

      Bitcoin! My sister-in-law has an affinity for it. To her I say, “G-d bless and no thanks!” lol

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I recently discovered it costs $60.00 to order 50 cheques. I figure that will be my last cheque order. I am currently using checks from my 2010 address. Maybe that will make the transition more appealing to you.


    1. Curiously enough, I’ve probably written more checks in the last year and a half than in the last 10 years total! Granted, nearly all have been made out to cash because I’ve gone through umpteenth bank drive-thru tellers because of COVID precautions. But that’s been my way of having a modicum of small bills in my wallet for “walking around” money. I just ordered a new box of checks myself recently! 😃


  15. You know, it may be an unexpected benefit of Covid that the slow and fitful reopening of actual physical places of consumer-oriented businesses that the generations now can appreciate teaching moments like what you experienced. I think that may be the only hope for the future of this country!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True enough, Sue! We’ve all kind of had to roll with new ways of doing things over the past year from tele-medicine appointments to now digital wallet-type of purchasing. I keep thinking of my parents and wondered how they would have managed. I guess they would have muddled like the rest of us are.

      Liked by 1 person

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