Why are old people so weird about money? Not spending or saving it, but physical bills and coins. They have an unhealthy preoccupation with, if given the choice, keeping the currency in the best physical condition and spending that with the most wear and tear. When making a purchase with a full wallet that is always the main concern.
You might think I'm unfairly stereotyping. But I have years of retail experience to back up this claim. I've seen an elderly woman, who owed $4.85, rifle past fives and tens, explaining that, "I'm sure I have a ratty twenty in here. I'll give that to you." I marked each note she thumbed past mentally, thinking to myself, "give me that one give me that one give me that one give me that one."
I questioned whether this pursuit was the best use of both of our time. It's annoying enough as a cashier to have someone ruin your drawer by breaking a large bill, but to do it for a reason as trivial as the aesthetic appeal of that large bill is especially galling. The twenty she gave me wasn't really even damaged. It was simply wrinkled, weathered and worn from age. Like the woman's own face. Was it's presence in her wallet an affront to the other crisp bills? Does it's appearance remind her that she herself is not what she once was?
A man once dug into his pocket twice in search of a discolored, barely recognizable nickel even though he'd snagged a clean one on the first attempt. Who are these people trying to impress? Do they think Lucius Malfoy is going to see them at the muggle bookstore and accuse them of being a Weasley?
Even if they are able to curate a crisp and shiny stack of cash it won't last long. The money in our wallets is inherently transient. It's there for us to get rid of. Will they tell their friend or spouse, "You couldn't tell by looking now, but before I went to the dry cleaners my cash was beautiful. It looked like I'd ironed it. Oh, you should have seen it."
Keep in mind I'm not talking about a five with a rip down the middle. Obviously if you have a bill with legitimate damage then you spend that first. You don't want to be the person who finally tears Abraham asunder. Then you've got two halves of a bill. And sure, you can go to a bank to get a new one, but that's a hassle. The only time I go to the bank is when the bank makes me go for some transaction or bit of business I can't do online or over the phone. It's always a special trip. I'm never near my bank when it's convenient. The only people who still go to the bank are old people. So really, they should be forced to keep the disintegrated bills and muck encrusted coins.
I'm sorry, Ethel, but you know the deal. You go the bank every week anyway because of your distrust of direct deposit and inability to use online account transfers. While you're there just swap out the grungy cash. Now, Ethel, I know you think all of these flimsy bills have been on strippers' behinds and you're probably right, but this is your generations penance for ruing social security by screwing too much after the war. Eisenhower did not tell you to screw like bunnies.
These people are old and need to live with more urgency. Younger people can reasonably expect to be alive for many more decades. It might not play out that way, but the odds are good. But these people are in crunch time. How many minutes a day are you willing to sacrifice to cling to nice looking money? It's all worth the same. Grab some and move on with your day. Don't you have a dying light to rage against?