A lot of people come to the mountain with no money.
I don’t mean traveling kids with literally no money. I mean city people who travel with only plastic, credit or debit cards, no cash. These people don’t realize that at the campground and the trail head, there’s no phone service, no internet access, no way to use a credit card save those old-school imprint devices that captured the card holder’s name and account number on flimsy slips of paper. (Do those devices still exist? Are they actually used anywhere, or do they fester in museums of late 20th century commerce?)
Early on the Saturday morning of Memorial Day Weekend, a vehicle pulled into my campground. I walked over to talk to them.
I asked if they had a reservation. They didn’t.
I told them I had a site available for that night only for $24. They asked if I took cards. I said no, cash only. They asked if there was an ATM nearby, a place where they could get cash. I said I didn’t think so.
They were really disappointed. They’d decided to go camping on a whim, drove out to the mountains figuring they’d find some place to stay, thinking their card would pay for whatever they needed.
I had to make a quick decision.
If a camper without a reservation says they don’t have the camping fee, I am allowed to take a lesser amount. If campers without reservations say they have no money, I am allowed to let them camp at no charge. I was not going to get in trouble for letting this family camp even though they couldn’t pay. But I could also turn this family away, save the site and hope someone with cash would come along.
But I decided to be a good person and let them stay.
They were so excited. They couldn’t believe I was letting them stay even thought they couldn’t pay. They kept telling me how I’d made their weekend, and they wanted to know how they could make reservations in the future. I think they will be back, with money next time.
I’m glad to have a job that lets me help out people with no cash in their pockets.