My Mother Was Right! How Having $20 Cash in My Wallet Saved Me From the Apocalypse

For as long as I can remember, my mother has bugged me to always carry cash. “You never know when you’re going to need an emergency twenty bucks,” she’d warn. “And since you never go to church, it’s not like Jesus is going to come and help you.”

I used to roll my eyes at her urging. It’s 2019 and I live in Los Angeles — everyone takes credit cards, which works out great for me because I get a $20 rewards card every time I earn 5,000 points on my Ann Taylor LOVELOFT Mastercard.

But I figured, hey, if it makes my mother happy, I’ll put a $20 in my wallet. It’s easier than going to law school.

And then… everything changed.

The morning of the apocalypse was just like any other: I woke up, fed my cat, googled “Idris Elba in a sweater,” etcetera. At first, I thought the ripples in my coffee and the tiny shake I felt were due to a passing truck, or maybe I’d overdone it on my morning Benadryl again.

I soon realized it was much, much worse.

The ground soon began shaking harder than a theater teen who had won the Hamilton lottery, and there were no signs of it stopping anytime soon. I quickly looked at fourteen more pictures of Idris Elba in a sweater, then shut my laptop, grabbed my purse, and headed for the car.

Outside, Los Angeles was in chaos. The roads were falling apart and traffic was at a stand-still. But unusual things were happening, too. Wind howled, and the sky was an eerie shade of “definitely on fire.” This was no ordinary earthquake. It was quite possibly the end of the world.

With traffic barely moving, I knew I wouldn’t make it very far in my car. Also, I’d found a parking spot right outside my building and I didn’t want to lose it on the off chance that there might still be a tomorrow. My only option was to walk, even though it seemed certain my own two legs would never carry me to safety in time.

But then, like a lightning bolt, it hit me: I have twenty dollars cash in my wallet.

Frantically, I reached into my purse. Water bottle, no! Lotion, not the time! LOVELOFT Mastercard, I’m saving you for the Presidents Day sale! Finally, my fingers touched the soft, honestly pretty dirty leather of my wallet. The smoke started to close in as I struggled to undo the snap. Barely able to see a foot in front of me, I grasped my twenty dollar bill and held it to the heavens.

And suddenly — the clouds parted. The sun began to shine, warm and bright and sun-like. The masses of people in their cars got out and began to applaud me. Me! “There’s no way a LOVELOFT Mastercard would have worked in this apocalypse,” said one man. “Indeed. Every piece of technology in the world was down,” confirmed another.

I learned two valuable lessons that day: that not all problems can be solved with a chip or a swipe, and that the entire fate of humankind is slightly more important than accumulating enough LOVELOFT points to purchase an entire Ann Taylor LOFT.

Since then, I’ve always carried cash in my wallet. It also came in handy last week when I wanted to buy a pack of gum that cost less than the $5 required to pay with credit. Who would have thought?

Thanks, Mom!

Sarah James has written for Reductress, Splitsider, and The Toast. She lives in Los Angeles and tweets @cryingbaseball.

Photo credit: Kurtis Garbutt, CC BY 2.0.

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