Saturday, April 17, 2010

Money, money, money

One of my favourite ABBA songs, alongside, Ring Ring (which is the ringtone for calls on my mobile) and Waterloo - I have to confess to being a bit of an ABBA aficionado, me and my friend Audrey used to try and work out all the lyrics (this was before we were old enough to be allowed to buy Smash Hits magazine I guess) you can only imagine my delight when they made the movie Mamma Mia - I was in England for 2 weeks that summer and managed to see it twice and bought the soundtrack to listen to in my car (Ben wasn't amused)

But I digress, back to the subject of money...

What do you do with all the shrapnel that you get as a matter of course when shopping using cash and not cards? If you're anything like me you empty out all the tiny little bits whenever your purse/wallet/pockets get too heavy - we have a large glass Roses jar that was, once upon a time full of chocolate, now it works as a very effective doorstop in my bedroom when filled with loose change. In England we used it for the same purpose and when it was full I would sit down and bag up all the 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p and 1p pieces and then drag it all along to the bank, it usually resulted in £70 or so.
We've been collecting euro shrapnel in the same manner for the last almost 3 years and finally the jar was full to the brim and I had to start asking how did one bag it up and pay it into the bank. But Germans when asked what do they do with their small change (probably not politically correct to use the word 'shrapnel' in front of them) are confused...

'What do you mean? I spend it of course' is the usual response - stupid of me to ask really, seeing as I complain enough about them holding up the checkout queue as they count out 1 cent pieces to pay a 50 euro shopping bill...

Someone mentioned 'rolling' is that like those cheese rolling competitions funny little inbred villages in England have to celebrate spring/the solstice/whatever? No, apparently not, you stack the coins and roll them in paper - which presumably you have to get from the bank.

This all sounded very backward to me, and I was very disparaging (novel eh, me being disparaging about something German) about how behind the times the banks were here, and then my local bank was refurbished and in the atrium where the cashpoint machine is there came a new machine. I ignored it for a while and then one day (when I was alone there) had a quick look and realised that it was an in and out cash machine...although quite how it worked I had no idea.

Yesterday I persuaded Ben (whose German is so far ahead of mine now) to help me (actually I bribed him, with the promise of a 10% cut of the proceeds, which should be at least the euro equivalent of £70 I reasoned, Ben was unsurprisingly was speedy to agree, although he wouldn't carry the bag of cash to the bank as it was 8 kilos (he weighed it for some reason) and therefore too heavy for him.
I put my cash card into the machine, told it I wanted to put money in and that it was coins and not notes and the lid to a drawer slid open, we poured the coins in pressed 'confim' and the drawer closed and the machine started up. Occasionally it spat out a foreign coin and even the odd euro/cent but for the most part it muttered to itself for 5 minutes as it sorted all the coins we'd poured in before listing the amounts of all the coins and our total, 92 euros. We were well impressed, but then it haemorrhaged coins into the bottom reject drawer. Uh?

We went off to Romeos (ice cafe) with the reject coins to think about it. A waffle (Ben), a double ice cream (Jas) & a glass of water (me - it was my Nespresso day and I was buzzing until 8pm on a caffeine/George high following our coffee tasting session at 11 - normally I'd have a cappucino (winter) or an eiscafe (summer) - must be nearly time for those...) and 20 minutes later Ben said he'd take the rejected money back and try again, he could smell his commission! The machine happily took all the rejected coins and credited my account with another 90 euro.
Today I've discovered why it rejected the coins (we were back at the bank doing the paying in for a friend - Ben's on a very nice little earner with this) there's a sign on the machine (which I hadn't bothered to read last time) that says it will only take 1000 coins at a time - but who in the world is going to count out their coins first before dumping them all in the machine...Germans clearly!

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