Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Paper money

We only use paper money here in Belarus; no coins. I was surprised after the recent inflationary runup to discover that we still use ten-ruble notes. They sure don’t buy anything, but the same way we keep using pennies in the USA, we keep using ten-ruble notes here. The best thing I can say for them is that they fatten our wallets and perhaps we can feel a bit richer for that.

I try to avoid the little money, but I’m afraid to leave it lying on the counter for fear of appearing to be a foreign snob. So I just make sure to spend it as quickly as possible after I receive it. This doesn’t always work, because the people who deal most often with little bills also prefer to get rid of them. Sometimes I give small bills to cashiers hoping to round up to the point where I can get back a big bill only to get back the same small bills and more in my change. For example, when I paid for lunch today at the university cafeteria, I offered a few small bills. If I had another 100-ruble note to reach the point where she could give me 500 rubles change, she would have played along. As it was, she refused my trashy little banknotes and gave me some more.

Now I have in the front of my wallet three 10-ruble notes, a 20 and some 50’s. I would have preferred at least to have a single 100-ruble note, but this is what I have. Curious, I calculated the value of 100 rubles. It’s just over a penny. Somebody warned me that it’s illegal to deface or destroy Belarusian currency, so I can’t even throw it away. Instead, I am alert like a cat on the hunt, ready to pounce the moment anybody opens a cash-box in front of me. 

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