I have to go to the bank today because it is payday at our house. Every day is payday at our house so, in fact, it will be my 292nd visit to the bank this year, but who’s counting?
I go to the bank every day because I do not like to keep extra cash on me. It has a way of disappearing in the form of loans to the people who help me with my husband Ralph’s care.
It is payday every day here because our housemates/employees do not have ATM or credit cards, pin numbers, checkbooks, passbooks, or savings accounts. Several years ago there was a man who lived with us who had an ATM card but his relationship with the card ended badly. Another man in our employ had a credit card but that didn’t work out either. And there was one caregiver who had multiple checking and saving accounts at multiple banking institutions and lending operations around the Bay Area, but he is no longer welcome at any of those establishments.
I pay the people who work for us in paper currency because they are unable to cash checks anywhere but the nearby check cashing joint, and, as they have pointed out to me, that costs money.
They spend their pay on cigarettes, lottery tickets, hair products, and on an occasional St. Ides beer, bought one can at a time at the corner liquor store.
The rest of their daily wage goes to paying off the people they owe money to. I was formerly that person until I started going to the bank every day so that I wouldn’t be. It got very confusing, and I did not like the idea of loaning money to the people who live with me, even when they informed me that the loan was money they would eventually earn. In theory that would be correct, but it didn’t always transpire in that way.
Today I go to the bank earlier than usual because Hans, a former employee (and someone I used to loan money to until I announced a zero tolerance decree on lending), needs a cash infusion. Ralph says he will make Hans a loan, because Hans already owes him money anyway. Ralph keeps a running tab in his head and adds new transactions onto Hans’s old bill. But today Ralph doesn’t have any money to loan Hans because he has loaned his stash to Andrea. Hans asks me to go to the bank for Andrea so she can pay back Ralph’s loan, and then he, Hans, can borrow from Ralph. I think about this for a minute and then I say OK, because, even though I’m not 100 percent sure that this explanation makes sense, I still have to pay Andrea for today’s work.
Hans leaves and says he’ll come back later, but before I can get out of the house someone knocks on the door and asks for Andrea. It is the person who Andrea borrowed money from last weekend, the person she has borrowed money from Ralph in order to reimburse.
I go to the bank. I look at my account balance and make calculations that involve food, transportation, and the number of days left in the month. I come home and pay Andrea. Andrea pays Ralph the cash she owes him. Hans returns and Ralph issues him a loan.
A new person appears on our front steps. It is a friend of our housemate, Willie. He says Willie borrowed 10 dollars from him and told him to get it from Andrea because Andrea owes Willie a 10 spot. Andrea says that isn’t true, that Willie, in fact, owes her money from a loan she made to him yesterday.
I go upstairs to my bedroom and close the door. I have already been to the bank today and I won’t be returning until tomorrow.