Pay in Change

Pay in Change - E. Haven Webster February 18, 2008 Soc 339:...

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E. Haven Webster February 18, 2008 Soc 339: Deviance and Social Control Stas Don’t Pay in Change, No One Will Like You My act of deviant behavior was to pay in change for a coffee. A seemingly innocuous act, it was apparently very upsetting to those around me. I went to the Starbucks at the Safeway on Center Street, ordered a coffee and proceeded to pay completely in change. Not only did I pay in change but it was mostly nickels and dimes. So where is the deviance exactly? Well it lies within the interpretation of the act. Someone paying entirely in change is unexpected and there is a certain unspoken understanding that if one only has change, they should use a Coinstar machine or other method of getting it turned into bills. Although I was using a legitimate form of currency backed up by the government, I was the recipient of glares and not-so-subtle, passive- aggressive comments made by those around me about being busy. The cashier glared at me as she counted out the money put it in the cash register and slammed it in a rather aggressive manner. Although paying with change is (obviously) legal, I broke a social norm by doing it. It is unusual for someone to pay with any change (often people pay in bills and receive change rather than count it out) let alone completely with change. The reaction I received from my act of deviance was unanimously negative. No one aggressively said or did anything but the looks, body language, and side commentaries were clearly opposing my act. My age (20), eyebrow piercing, and outfit (jeans and a sweatshirt) did not convey wealthy status. Facial piercings, though not entirely unusual in Oregon, still carry certain negative implications in the views of some. Rarely do those in the business world have visible tattoos or piercings other than women with their earlobes pierced and I was in line for coffee with middle-aged men and women in business attire. Because I was so near Willamette
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University (with its status as an elite, private, liberal arts institution) the assumption could easily have been (correctly) made that I was a student, effectively explaining my dress and financial situation. By the same token panhandlers can often be found on the corner by Safeway so I could have been one. I was unable to tell which category I fell under in the eyes of those around me but the attitude became was that I was inferior as soon as I took the change out of my pocket. Beforehand little attention was paid to me but none was negative, the cashier was friendly and smiled until I started paying when the look of annoyance crept onto her face. Paying in change gives the impression of poverty which is an affront to the sensibilities of today’s consumers. Perhaps my youth, dress, and facial piercing encouraged that assumption as I paid for my Starbucks coffee with change. The aforementioned signs in convenience stores stating the cashiers right to refuse more than two dollars in change less than quarters is aimed at the homeless or otherwise impoverished to discourage them from frequenting that particular
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This note was uploaded on 05/06/2008 for the course SOC 332 taught by Professor Stas during the Spring '08 term at Willamette.

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Pay in Change - E. Haven Webster February 18, 2008 Soc 339:...

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