There was a time when this would have been a cause for great consternation, but we are swiftly moving toward a world in which wallets won’t even need to exist anymore. I predict that in the next 10 years, very few people will carry a wallet on a daily basis, as everything gets more digital and we move increasingly to a physical cash-less society.
Our descendants will wonder why we carried a worn out piece of leather around in our pants containing plastic cards, physical identification, paper money and other things we had stuck in there long ago and long since forgotten about.
I remember my first wallet.
I think I was about 10 years old when I received a fuzzy, tan wallet as a gift from my cousins. It had a Native American design sewn on its front along with the word “Arizona,” where my cousins had procured it on a family vacation. It had the typical cash sleeve and a few interior pockets for cards and such that I didn’t really have much use for yet, but I was so proud just to own it.
Even though I treasured the wallet, I rarely carried it with me. I felt like it took up too much space in my pocket and I saw it more as a token of my impending manhood than a logical way to carry around my private funds and personal information. The fact that I had one was what mattered, so it usually sat on a dresser near my bed.
I eventually acquired an even cooler Batman logo wallet that sealed itself with Velcro, allowing for a far more advanced configuration of pockets and other features. Taking a page from my Dad’s wallet playbook, I filled the little plastic insert with photos of my parents, siblings and cousins. I also eventually acquired a few ID cards from random toys that came with such official-looking items. I believe I also carried an expired Six Flags Great America season pass, as well as an ID card-sized paint sample or two.
Most of my memories of looking through the wallet are of doing so at home, but I also remember excitedly taking my wallet for a spin whenever my family would make one of our Christmas season treks to various malls to buy presents for one other. I took some paper money out of my bank — one of those elaborate kiddie banks that you drop coins into and watch as they sail down geometric slides to be sorted into their respective spaces — and stuffed it full of various paper denominations. A man needs to be prepared for any shopping eventuality.
When making a purchase at the mall, I would proudly unveil my wallet and triumphantly pull out some cash. Everything was going well — my Batman emblazoned masculinity on display for all to admire — until the cashier gave me my change. What was I supposed to do with coins? My wallet didn’t have a pouch for that, and my bank was at home. Now that I think about it, my feelings on the annoying uselessness of coinage never really changed.
But let’s get back to today.
There I was — innocently waiting for my train — when my hand grazed my back pocket and I realized I didn’t have my wallet. Another realization I had today is how frequently I subconsciously feel my back pocket throughout the day to make sure that my wallet is still there. I guess this is a good security measure that I have adopted — especially since I refuse to “be safer” and carry my wallet in my front pocket — but it led to several freakouts as I kept forgetting about and rediscovering my wallet-less-ness today.
Fortunately for me, I had switched to electronic train tickets this month, so I didn’t have to worry about not having the paper card that has been my passport to downtown Chicago for the last 3.5 years. If I did need the paper card, it still woudn’t have been an issue, as I could have just paid for my ticket via the app.
When lunch rolled around, it actually worked out better that I didn’t have a credit card to use. I ate at the Potbelly’s in my office, where I can pay with an app. As a perk for my frequency using the app, I received a free bag of chips with my sandwich and a buy-one-get-one-free coupon on my receipt. That wouldn’t have happened if I had remembered my wallet.
And…those are the only two times that I would have needed my wallet today.
Obviously there are still plenty of other scenarios in which I would have to pay with a credit card or cash, but there are very few other things in my wallet that I need on a daily basis. The thing is filled with something, but there’s a lot in there that I wouldn’t even be able to name right now. My driver’s license. Rewards cards. My library card. My health insurance card. What else? Why is it so thick?
Everything in there seems like it either already has a digital equivalent on my phone or could easily get one in the next few years. And good riddance! It’s a little crazy when you think about the fact that we are nonchalantly carrying around a vessel of personal information that is extremely annoying and potentially dangerous to lose.
Personally, I’m looking forward to having one less thing to remember every morning.
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