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Hand on Hand Interaction

Have you noticed how the interaction between human beings involved in a financial transaction is charging. I’m old enough to remember the days when cash and bartering were the main means people used for their day to day transactions. Today the act of passing change from one person to another is slowly being superseded by the ubiquitous tap of a plastic card. Technological innovations have not only had a significant impact on financial transactions, we now pay a third party for the luxury of being involved in a financial transaction, they have also changed the way human beings interact.

The act of passing change from one person to another is a great human leveller. This was brought home to me when I paid for a meal in a café that doesn’t handle much cash. I handed over two $10 notes to a teller who put $3 change into a metal dish that she handed across to me. Very efficient, very clean, no interaction.

The handing over of change and the receiving of change may or may not result in touching. Most people who handle change on a daily basis have their own little way of handing back change. Some drop it into the palm of your hand, some place it in your hand making sure the side of the coin is the only thing that touches your hand. Others put it firmly in your palm, very briefly touching your skin. I understand why young men and women who give change as part of their job don’t want to be groped by the lonely, the sad and the angry. Unwanted advances, even touching a hand in a financial transaction in a familiar fashion should not be tolerated. On the other hand, giving change back in a demeaning manner shouldn’t also be tolerated. The plastic fantastic solution isn’t a solution as removing the need for that interaction doesn’t address the question of what is acceptable etiquette in this situation?

Passing change is one of the few acceptable situations I’m aware of where it is acceptable to touch a stranger. So what’s the best way of doing it without offending either party? I have noticed the older I get, the perfunctory act of passing on and receiving change has taken on a new meaning. Possible because change tends to be thrown at you, not given to you when you look different. So how do I deal with the situation? Notes are no problem as touching doesn’t come into play. When giving coins I tend to place the larger coin on the persons’ palm while dropping in the smaller coins at the same time. Everybody’s happy, you acknowledge the other person while not touching them. It’s those little things we do that acknowledge the other as an equal that makes us human.