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 A short road trip to Walgreens was undertaken to pick up a prescription. It was not an important medication. In fact, I had waited a number of weeks before my wife got tired of my procrastinating and she took the prescription in to get it filled.​​

  Then when it was ready there was still a failure to go pick it up. The Colonel advised me she had gotten a number of robocalls from Walgreens reminding her to pick up the meds.


  As I walked into the Walgreens an employee advised me their credit card system was down and I could only shop at their drug store if I was prepared to pay in cash. Cash, who the heck carries cash in our modern US business world? I do.


  Now, the prescription was not that expensive and I only had to pay a co-payment to claim my medication. For me, this mini electric hiccup was really no big deal. However, what if I was a brittle diabetic who had to have the meds right now because I was out, and not taking the insulin could be life threatening? Oh, and I did not have the cash to pay for even a short one-week emergency re-supply of insulin to keep me holding on until the credit card debacle was fixed?


  After I picked up my prescription I stood at the main entrance of the Walgreens and watched the faces and surprised reactions of the potential customers as they walked in the store. Their first reaction was not, “that's OK I have cash on me”. It was, “when will the credit card system be back online”? When the response from the Walgreens employee was, “we do not know” most of the customers turned around and left.


  Now if you were just coming in to shop for beauty items and not health items you most likely were only going to be inconvenienced. You were not going to return to the parking lot empty-handed and collapse from failure to acquire shampoo and fingernail polish.


  Most people in the US only have a one month's supply of their medication because that is how their insurance carrier covers the payment. Sadly it does not cross a lot of people's minds to perhaps pay for an extra one month's supply for “just in case crisis issues.” Those are the ones who go down first when there is a disaster that shuts off the power and then the medication.


  That same day the Colonel and I went out to dinner. I was telling her the story about the credit card failure at Walgreens earlier that day. After we had ordered our meal and waited a little longer than normal, the wait staff came over and told us their credit card system was down (related? I don't know?) and we would have to pay with cash. Also, while struggling with this issue in the back of the restaurant they had not started making our meal order.


  I had to assume they were afraid we would walk out because we could not pay with a credit card and they did not want to get stuck with two entrees that did not get paid for. So we had to wait even longer after telling the staff we could, in fact, pay with cash. As usual, the food was good but the service was really poor that evening. The staff did not have any idea how to handle the situation.


  In the middle of that same day, we had driven 100 miles out of town and back to take someone home. It was hot and I has prepared, with a full tank of gas. But, what if I was low on gas and the credit card system for the gas stations was also down that day? Yes, I had enough cash on me to buy gas all the way across the US, but I am not normal.


  Like medication purchases, most gas purchases are done with either a credit card or a debit card and if the system is down you cannot buy either. It does not matter how much money you have in your banking accounts. It is not real money, it is electronic blips on a computer screen. Turn off the electricity and there are no electronic blips.


 Let's say hypothetically you have a million dollars in your banking accounts. You are watching the news and you see a crisis brewing in our country and this makes you very nervous. So, you decide you are going to the bank with plans to pull out your money. It is your money and you want it and you want it now. This idea of yours is not going to come to fruition.


  First off, your bank does not have a million paper dollars on hand to just give you whenever you might decide to make a major withdrawal. You have to give most banks a 72-hour notice that you want a large amount of cash. Anything over $10,000 will get you and your bank account “flagged” and the Feds will know by the end of the business day.


  A crisis is coming and you want your money and the Feds want to know what you know and why. Far-fetched, maybe, but do you want to find out the hard way when the bank will not give you any of your money because you are now on someone's watch list?


    You have to have cash. Even in a total meltdown of society where it is pretty obvious that the US dollar will not have any value in a few days. There is, however, some value at the beginning of that crisis. If someone wants a $100 on day one of the crises for a five gallon can of gas, give them the hundred dollars. Tomorrow that same can of gas will sell for $200.


  Cash will be king for the first few days of a crisis and human nature will drive many to take advantage of the situation. In less than a week the situation will crash and the paper dollars will have no value. Spend what cash you have as fast as you can on hard assets. That $200 can of five gallons of gas, will sell for gold in the future.


 Food, firearms and ammo, gas, medicine, baby supplies and paper products are the hard assets that will be in the most demand and will hold the best value. Spend your cash as fast and wisely as you can in the first days of a crisis.


  In the meantime, in what we believe is the peaceful normal world of day-to-day US living, put some cash in your pocket every time you leave the house. It may not be a matter of bugging out to the countryside in time of crisis. It may be the situation where you have to bug home to what you believe is safety.


  That $200, five gallon can of gas could be the only thing between you and getting home to survive another day.


  What is truly in your wallet? If it is all plastic money and useless lottery tickets there is a good chance you will not get home.


  If you cannot break the code on this cash money thing, then I suggest you keep a good pair of walking shoes and some water in your car, you will need both and there are no guarantees you will survive.


 Major Van Harl USAF Ret

When Your Credit Card Fails to Work

 Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Major Van Harl
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