When I was in High School, I had a wonderful English teacher (Jane Nagle, now a professor at Westfield State College). I remember an exercise we did where she asked each of us to write down how much cash we thought we had in our pockets, and then to check if we were right. Most of us knew exactly how much money we had — we weren’t exactly in an affluent area, and the idea of just having “some money” and not budgeting it strictly was pretty alien to most of us.
I look at my wallet now, and it makes a great symbol for how much life has changed since then. And I don’t mean how much cash is in it.
Change is inevitable and exciting. If you had told my 16 year-old self what my 35 year-old self would have in his wallet, he would have called you crazy.
Cash. Yes, I still carry cash. I have this odd behavior where I hate to spend less than $5-ish on a credit card. This means I usually pay for my breakfast in cash, and my lunch on a credit card. Don’t ask; I don’t understand either. And yes, the fact that I’d be willing to spend this much money just to avoid brown-bagging it would seem alien to my teenage self, but let’s not go into that.
Credit. The willingness of banks in this country to hand out credit is something I would never have predicted in 1990. I shudder to think of how much damage I could do to my life in a crazed shopping spree using just the plastic in my wallet.
Driver’s License. No, I wasn’t driving in high school. But that’s not it. My first license had my social security number on it. Everybody’s did. Now you can’t, even if you want to, use that as your license number. I would never have imagined the privacy concerns this technology boom would bring.
Health Insurance Cards (3). Teenagers are immortal, right? Why would you carry those things around with you? I mean, when would you ever need that? Hah. Not only that, why would I need 3 different insurance providers? (Now that I wish I could fix!)
Audio Meeting Quick Reference Card. I carry in my wallet a card with phone and access numbers to a conference call I can use at any time. Included is of course access numbers from other countries. I don’t think my 1990 self could imagine why I’d be carrying a card with a phone number in India on it.
Employment Badge. The only reason I’d have carried one of these around at 16 would be to get my employee discount on audio tapes at Caldor. I certainly would have trouble picturing myself doing what I do for a living today, for who I do it today.
Corporate Credit Card. Again, I hesitate to ponder the damage I could do to my life if I ever snapped :).
AAA Card. Ok, this one I could have pictured. Our cars were always breaking down, back then. I feel like I pay into AAA now strictly due to the terror I underwent back in those days every time the car I was in broke down, got stuck, wouldn’t start, and so on.
So … what’s in your wallet?