Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Age of the Money Mart

Then I clanked next door to the place where a caged chick cashes cheques around the clock but seems to keep half your dough as commission for this fine service. Actually it's more than half, or feels that way by now. It goes up all the time. One day I'm going to come in here, write a cheque for fifty quid, slide it over, hang about for a while, then ask: 'Come on -- what about my money?' And the caged chick will look up and say, 'Can't you read? We keep all that now.'

Why does it say he "clanked" next door?
Because this is describing the actions of John Self, the anti-hero protagonist in Martin Amis's [1984] novel Money. And if John is not in the act of drinking booze, he's in the act of at least carrying it somewhere… as is the case, above.
He is living a life of unbridled hedonism -- I have just started the book but it is already proving to be one of the downright funniest things I have ever encountered in fiction.
John Self is a brilliant [or as Amis would call him, a "brill"] lunatic… with enough money on hand to not worry in the least about how he rids himself of it.
Which brings me to the very issue I feel like discussing tonight.
The evolution of The Money Mart©. The very fact of it.
The above citation from the novel made me think of my own questions that have festered for so long…. I see these places everywhere! And I don't UNDERSTAND them.

<--There is one just down the street from where I live, and I drive past it all the time…. and amazingly, there are nearly always PEOPLE IN IT!
Sometimes a line-up!
I don't get it.
I could understand if they were serving hamburgers at the cashier end of the thing!
But, when all is said and exchanged... what are they selling?
Money? And charging you for it?
It does not make sense to me.
Haven't any of these people in the queue ever heard of a BANK?
Umm… where you can store your money for a very minimal fee [if any] and have the added advantage of writing your own cheques [sometimes free of charge] and having the added bonus of even a credit line to draw upon? And maybe even earn some interest on your money in the meantime?
Why would any rational human being even go to a Money Mart at all?
It sometimes gives me the shivers and/or heebie-jeebies to just drive past one!



Shark said...

I was caught by the term, "chick". I don't know if this story is supposed to be written in vernacular, a la Huck Finn, or if it's an 80's thing, but that seems such a juvenile or at least chauvinistic word to me...


I tried to use a Money Mart once in Montreal. I had been having issues with my bank over some unpaid credit card bills; the bank would no longer cash my pay cheques without appropriating the entire thing to pay these outstanding arrears. My cheques would go in direct deposit and in an instant, all the money was gone... Well, I had a cheque, and though I had outstanding bills, I more than anything needed to eat; so I went to Money Mart. I said, "I would like to cash this cheque." They said, "I need two pieces of photo ID and 35% of your cheque."
The ID I didn't have and the 35% I couldn't part with, so I ended up pleading with my boss to pay me in cash, which he was nice enough to do.
I ended up getting some food that night, but I'm sure there are many people whom the banks would rather see starve than help feed, and it's usually these people who rely on thieves like Money Mart to survive.

Jeane said...

I have always had the impression that people who use those places can't open a bank account for some reason. Although I can't think of why that might be, nor can I imagine why else someone would use a money mart.

Cipriano said...

Yes, the book I am reading [Martin Amis -- Money] well, the main character is the furthest thing from politically correct. He is 35, going on 17! His behaviour and lifestyle... and vocabulary... all are atrocious.
Interesting stuff you are saying about the Money Mart experience. It's actually a good thing [in retrospect] that you never HAD two pieces of ID with you, or you may have been tempted to hand over the 35% to these thieves.

I know -- I too have often wondered at the ultimate purpose of the places. And they are everywhere. Not just Money Mart but there is also The Cash Store.