I think everyone knows by now that it’s difficult to live in the US without a credit card. You can pay everything anywhere with a credit card, no matter if it`s online or in a store. The cashier won’t even flinch if you pay for an 89 cent chocolate bar with it.
I totally got used to relying on my credit card. I hardly ever carry cash with me. I do it like most of my American friends.
I didn’t have a credit card in Germany. I didn’t need it. I usually paid cash and sometimes with my debit card (EC Karte). When I purchased something on the Internet I either paid it with my PayPal account or made a direct money transfer online. I got a credit card soley for my trips to the US.
But the funny thing is how used to this way of living I became.
Right now I am in Berlin visiting family and all my lifelong friends. One day after my arrival I invited my mother for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant. We had good food in a cozy but busy atmosphere. My mother decided to have an Ouzo to end this beautiful night and I signaled the waiter that I wanted the check. After a while he came back, hiding the bill in a leather case. I put my credit card in it, like I am so used to doing now, and was shocked when he came back to me saying that they don`t accept credit cards. I panicked. I didn’t bring cash with me and neither did my mother. I got really upset. How could they not take credit cards? Do these Germans live in the Middle Ages? How could they be so behind?
I left the restaurant, leaving my mother as collateral, looking for an ATM (a machine that would give me cash). It turned out that I had forgotten my PIN and the machine locked my debit card. Now I was really stressed out. I had to drive back to my mother’s apartment because she remembered that she left some cash on her desk. Luckily, I found it, drove back to the restaurant and found my old lady, a little tipsy, because meanwhile she had her third glass of wine.
We had a good laugh about that. And I had to admit that this was my own fault. I lived my whole life in Germany and should have known that most restaurants don’t accept credit cards unless they are expecting lots of tourists. It just blows my mind how I could forget that! Is that how it is when you live in a different country? You adjust so well that you forget your own customs?