The Best of Andy Rooney

My newspaper this morning has a headline that reads: INVESTORS GET JITTERY ON A GLOBAL SCALE

Really? I'm an investor. Small time, I suppose, but I'm not jittery.

To tell you the truth, I read the sports pages and the Page One news each morning before I read what happened to my stocks and bonds and the news on Wall Street.

I might never have known about the market's decline this morning if the headline hadn't caught my eye. Even if I had, it wouldn't have made me "jittery." It certainly wouldn't have made me jittery "on a global scale." That's some scale to be jittery on.

I admire people who know all about money but I'm not one of them. Once I've counted what I have in my pockets or on top of the dresser at night, that's it. I get a bank statement each month, but if they offered me $10 instead of my statement, I'd take it. Just tell me how much I have; that's all I need to know. If someone's going to steal money, I don't think they'd work in a bank. It's too hard to steal in a bank because they have computers which keep track of everybody's money.

It's wrong, I suppose, but I've distanced myself from my money. I'd like to see it piled up in front of me on any day I asked for it but banks don't do that. All they send me is a letter with numbers and I take their word for it that the totals are correct. I hope they have my money stored in some safe somewhere. I don't know whether banks keep money downstairs, out back, or just as numbers somewhere.

I trust my bank to keep track of my money. If someone there was stealing $9 a week from me, I'd never know. I'm sure that in the past, a bank employee has stolen several hundred thousand dollars from someone's account but not $9 or even $90. I suppose the smaller a bank account, the more carefully it's watched. My salary is sent to my bank, not to me, and all I can do is hope everyone involved is honest. I don't count what's in my bank and sue me, but I also don't count what I spend. I have a rough idea. That's as close as I get.

When I was young, my Uncle Bill gave me the best money I ever had. He was a lawyer in a small town about 35 miles away from us and when we went to see him, he'd often give me a $5 bill. When you're10 or 12, $5 dollars is all the money in the world, and I loved getting it. He also occasionally gave me a silver dollar but I didn't like them as much because you didn't spend silver dollars; you saved them.

When I was very young, my mother gave me 35 cents allowance every week. I don't know why 35 cents, but it was great. Sometimes I bought a box of Animal Crackers for a nickel at Evans grocery store and often I'd get a 5-cent ice cream cone from Graves drug store. The money I received from Uncle Bill and my mother was worth more to me then than all the money I have now.

I think cash has gone out of style. We often go out for dinner, but I never carry much money and almost always pay with a credit card. I don't know why, but paying with a credit card doesn't hurt as much if the bill is large.

Credit cards started to get popular in the 1930s. My father traveled more than three weeks out of every month and he carried a lot of cash because it was before the widespread use of credit cards. You didn't give a hotel clerk or a restaurant cashier a credit card.

If you had to name one of the biggest changes in our society in the past 60 years, you'd have to choose credit cards. I've never seen any statistics on the interest and fees that banks earn who issue credit cards. I think that would be an interesting figure to see.

Oddly enough, many of the first credit cards issued where made of some sort of metal. I wonder if they were heavy.

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