Last summer I had a corn check of a significant amount to deposit and pulled up to the teller at the drive-through window of my bank.
I handed her my check and as she handed me my receipt I said to her, “Isn’t this an amazing system? I hand you a piece of paper with numbers on it and you look at it, and hand me another piece of paper in return. We do this without even thinking about it.”
Those slips of paper are just slips of paper with no real value until a name and amount is added with a date and a signature.
In actuality, the check has no value at all even with the amount and names.
It has value, because we put our faith in it.
Otherwise we would be operating on the barter system. Imagine me carrying in bushels of corn to my grocery store to pay for a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk.
There must be billions of transactions done everyday by check and electronically from pennies to millions of dollars that move through the system effortlessly as long as there is faith that someone is backing up the value of the transaction, whether it be a gallon of milk or 20,000 bushels of corn or 160 acres of land.
Here is another event that happens every second of every day, which seems not that important, but when millions of people are doing it all around the world, it is so big it changes people’s lives, businesses, and even governments.
My wife and I were doing our errands and since we were in town decided to eat at a restaurant we had not been to in years. It was a popular eating place and was known for serving good basic food.
We ordered our meals, were served promptly and courteously, and when everything was done, paid our bill and left, satisfied with what we had eaten.
I told my wife when we were in the car that was $25 for a $12 meal.
I thought about it some more and remembered I am selling corn for $6 that I once sold for $2. Soybeans I once tried to get $6 for I am selling at $11. The gasoline in my tank that I paid around $3 for was once under $2.
Why shouldn’t that meal be $25?
We were in a different town the next day and this time decided to eat at a national food chain that specializes in chicken. I could give you its three initials, but we will leave names out.
We decided to eat there after still feeling the sting of our previous day’s $25 meal. Our meals of chicken totaled just over $11.
The food was adequate, but nothing that great. We even had a little left over, a piece of chicken and a couple biscuits we took home.
We talked about what to do with the leftover food and I suggested putting gravy over it and serving chicken and biscuits for supper.
My wife put her wonderful food skills together and the meat and biscuits had the creamy gravy poured over them with the crunchy breading from the chicken skin crumbled and used as a topping. We enjoyed the meal and had a good laugh.
We got two meals from our not-quite-$12-worth of food and I told my wife she did a better job with the chicken serving it the second time than the chicken place did with serving it the first time.
Will we go back to either eating place in the near future? Probably not, because they did not give us a reason to go back very soon.
Everyday we vote with our feet and our dollars. We reward those who do a good job with our repeat business and if less than satisfied, we may return, but it will not be very soon, if at all.
Whether it is a $100,000 worth of corn or a $6 chicken sandwich, each transaction requires an owner who can operate the business keeping income greater than expenses and a customer who is satisfied to the point of giving back repeat business.
Almost every decision we make depends on whether we are buying or selling.
Once the transaction is agreed upon, money, that only has value because we have faith in it, is exchanged and the two parties go their separate ways until next time, if there is one.
It is an amazing system that depends on faith, sound business principles, and satisfaction. It may not be perfect, but show me a better one.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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