What’s more fun than doing homework? Well, a lot of things, it would seem, judging from the alternative activities my friends and I have recently engaged in while procrastinating. Yesterday, I was sitting in the campus center with some friends (under the pretense of doing work together) when they decided to take a break from the normal procrastination routine of chatting and scouring the web for Weird Internet Things to start an argument about how many slices there would be in the orange I was peeling. Margot was positive that the orange would contain ten or fewer slices (pieces? tranches? what’s the proper name for the parts of an orange?). Carolyn disagreed; she thought the orange would have more than ten parts. In the throes of paper writing, this question seemed infinitely more interesting than it actually was, and the argument got a little intense—that’s when they decided to put some money on it.
Personally, I thought Margot was probably right, so I asked if I could get in on their $1 friendly bet. Carolyn (knowing I am cashless this week) raised a critical eyebrow and said she wouldn’t take a bet with somebody who wouldn’t be able to pay up until next week. “Well,” I bargained, “if you win, I can send you a dollar via PayPal.” At this, both of my friends scoffed. They had decided that the point of the bet was to win a little extra cash, right now, to spend on graduate student life blood (aka coffee). For this small amount among the three of us, PayPal just wouldn’t do the trick.
So (unfairly, I thought), I was shut out of the bet (which it turns out I would have won). At such a small amount, it wasn’t such a big deal, but it did remind me that certain types of exchanges just have to be transacted in cash. Whether large or small, since many wagers are illegal, cash is the medium of choice. In a lot of ways, going cashless hasn’t been too much of a hassle. But a cashless week would be a lot harder for a bookie or a drug dealer! (And good thing I didn’t enter the March Madness pool like Charlie.)