ChangesTheBook Chapter 23

My first career after college was flying the A-7D Corsair for the USAF in a little hamlet called Myrtle Beach, SC. (Today, not such a little hamlet). I went on a cruise out of Miami for three days to the Bahamas on the USS Emerald Seas. It was fun, but I think the ship was a converted world war two (WWII) troop carrier. It was a late notice last minute decision, and it sailed the week between Christmas and New Years Day.

I had the presence of mind to not worry about the fact that I had no cash. Today, you would think, so what. But this was in the late 70’s. which meant that you could not get money from any bank. They didn’t talk with each other via computers like they do now. You could write a check, but that was it. And if they didn’t know you, why would they take a check and give you cash, especially if it was out of state.

Why not just waltz up to the local ATM and make a withdrawal? Because they had not yet invented plastic cash. Diners club had been around for some time, but not much else. (It wasn’t even in plastic format yet.) No MasterCard, no Visa, no plastic wallet size cards. The convenience of not having to plan for cash today is a small but wonderful luxury.

When the USAF sent us <Pilots> on a TDY (temporary duty), they would issue a voucher we could take to the CBPO (central personnel office) and take cash out. No kidding. They would advance us cash based on the per diem rate of where we were going. Then, we would go to a bank and pay them to convert the cash to travelers checks. They still exist today, but are becoming increasingly rare. I was never sure how good a deal these were. You still had to worry about them being lost, had to keep track of the numbers etc. But obviously there was some protection.

 

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