Change challenge

Change challenge

Coins of desired denominations soon rewarded my effort.

My little grandson Shreyas amuses us whenever he receives a cash gift from somebody. He promptly returns the note demanding change for the amount.

This may be his innocent way of finding joy in numbers, yet, the value that change carries even in these inflationary times is pleasantly surprising. By value, I don’t mean its ability in augmenting your bank balances or assets but its utility when you are called upon to counter the no-change-syndrome that ails our society.

Try producing a note of even a slightly higher denomination than your bus fare and ‘no change’ grunts the conductor scribbling the balance amount on the back of the ticket to be (rather supposed to be) paid later and wriggles his way through the crowd leaving you craning your neck for the rest of your journey to keep tab on him lest he gives the slip with you holding the scribbled slip.

Your sprained neck as you reach your destination is a bad enough punishment for not carrying enough change and a reminder not to repeat it next time you board a bus. The saying ‘take care of your pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves’ is not just an advice to the spent thrift but in the Indian context a warning too because if you fail to carry enough change  to pay for your wares you in all probability are likely to end up losing a tenner for the item costing Rs 6 or Rs 7.

Rhetorically and literally too the change in your pocket could be likened to the grease that oils the vehicle of daily life and I realised it the hard way the other day. After the usual shopping I plopped myself and the shopping bags into the rickshaw that mercifully stopped at my behest.

The no change madam‘ that greeted me at the destination as I tried to settle the fare baffled me a bit because later in the afternoon, I was obviously not one of his first passengers. Mentally saluting the wisdom of the ancient Hindi couplet which says ‘when the services of a needle are called for, a sword is of no use’, I rummaged through my purse for the required change. Coins of desired denominations soon rewarded my effort and I settled the fare. But instead of apologising for the inconvenience caused to me the driver whizzed past cursing me for the delay caused.

“The no-change-syndrome is nothing but an easy way out to make some fast bucks,” opined my widely travelled cousin. Till this change of attitude makes itself felt, I for one, have devised my own way of tackling it if and when the shop keeper finds himself at a loss for change – ‘please keep the item aside for me, I will collect it tomorrow’ or ‘do you mind if I pay the balance change on my next visit because I too don’t have change’ are my requests. The fear of losing a customer, or worse still, the balance amount does the trick and plop pop out the small change in all denominations.

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