This is the story of how TfL going cashless has changed what I want from my clothes.
None of this will be a revelation if you’ve got a faded rectangle imprinted in your front-left trouser pocket, and the square of your wallet in the back left, but hey – I’ve got news! I’ve stopped carrying a purse.*
Or at least, I’ve stopped carrying a purse in my central London working week.
I’ve got an iPhone 6 that’s almost thin enough to put in my pocket without spoiling the line of my clothes, and a debit card that does everything else. I don’t want to take my debit card in and out of my purse every time I go through the barrier on the underground; I don’t want to carry an extra thing when I run out to get lunch.
In fact, my Monday to Thursday self doesn’t need cash; it needs good pockets.
At the weekend, when I go to parks and playgrounds and local cafes and pick-up my dry-cleaning and go to the library, I do carry a purse. It feels somehow rude to pay with a card in the coffee shop down the road, and you can’t buy vegetables from a market stall with plastic. And anyway, family life is somehow naturally frictionful; the reassurance of carrying a little hard cash is by no means out of keeping with the clunk and muddle of my weekends.
But my weekday self is frictionless and fully converged. I feel an itch of irritation about getting out my work pass and disinclined to feel in my bag for a loyalty card. I want everything in one thing, and I’m lucky enough to be able to pay a little extra for that convenience.
And as I write this, I’m aware that I’m describing privilege – the privilege of being relatively affluent and employed and spending my money on coffee and having fancy clothes that get dry-cleaned. But it’s also the privilege of carrying less stuff. Of being less weighed down and moving more quickly. The sort of thing that men have done every day for pretty much ever, while women have somehow got sidetracked into carrying trophy bags on the crook of their arm, that have the effect of unbalancing and making them totter.
So the only thing holding me back now is a lack of clothes with reasonable pockets – cut to accommodate a phone and a debit card.
Not what I expected when TfL went cashless.
*as in, “a small pouch of leather or plastic used for carrying money, typically by a woman”. I’d like to believe I’m close to not carrying a bag, but I’m not entirely deluded.