Paying a bill without touching it??

We have a heating and air company. Here’s the deal, we had a long-time customer that would pay with a check or cash and she would always put it on a plate, even a paper plate, and hand the plate to our service tech. She was an older lady and we chalked it up to eccentricity.

She passed away though and now her son does the exact same thing. It’s almost like they don’t want to touch the money at the same time as the person they are paying. Is this a superstition about money changing hands within their house?? Or is it just weirdness passed down in the family?

It’s probably an issue with germs.

Some cultures/religions proscribe skin contact ( to varying degrees) with strangers/opposite gender/etc.

Is their last name Hughes, by chance?

This sort of thing is fairly common in some contexts in Japan. Even the most informal store will hand you your change in a little tray instead of putting it directly into your hands. And generally the customer would put the money in the same tray (sitting on the counter). It’s just considered politeness there, I think it may have something to do with keeping financial transactions at one remove, because money is sort of disreputable. This is due to the hundreds of years of feudal culture where merchants were considered near the bottom of the social ladder (below peasants, above criminals).

The old lady may have been from a culture that had a similar outlook, and she just passed on her habits to her son.

or Mandel?

Perhaps she came from a long line of Butlers, accustomed to serving small items that way.
You could ask her son if they were servants.

I’d say something with germs. It might help to know what ethnicity the customer is to help figure out if it is a cultural thing.

I wouldn’t do that, it could be misinterpreted and cause offense. I would just be grateful that I was being paid for my services by a regular customer.

All the restaurants I use put the bill on a little silver tray; the waiter uses white gloves, and bows as he respectfully presents it.

Just kidding. McDonalds is the only restaurant I go to. And yesterday, they were using pencils and paper to compute the bill, as the computer system was down.

I was thinking the germ thing as well. In fact, I was going to start a germaphobe thread about something somewhat similar, in that I’ve recently seen some people irrationally terrified to touch certain things, but nothing else seems to bother them.

However, the fact that she used a plate, always a plate, any plate and that her son does the exact same thing, even when she’s gone, makes me thing this is some type of tradition. If she were a simple germaphobe, she could just set the money down on a table for him to pick up.

Its also meant so that they can’t be accused of slight of hand.

Otherwise they could give you 5 20’s, for example, and you say that you received 4.

In Japan it is a relatively normal process. Most registers have a money tray. You put your money in the tray, they take it out for the transaction, they put your change in the tray, you pick up your change. It’s a good method for security purposes because the money is always laid out for the cameras to see, I find it’s easier to confirm your change. I have no idea what led to it culturally, not particularly concerned, when in Rome.

…That they both suffer from? And deal with in the exact same way? :dubious:

This makes sense for a business with a cash register, exchanging bills and coins, which have to be counted…
But the OP is talking about a private house, where payment is by check.

A culture with strict rules about contact with others comes to mind. The most obvious to me are Roma. The rules about interactions between Roma and others are very strict.

However, Googling for this particular type of interaction comes up empty.

i was gonna’ extend caution same as Alley Dweller ascribed. however … i’d think it perfectly acceptable to inquire why the son uses the approach. might lead to better rapport between lowly consumer and almighty bill-collector.

then again … i might just be weird.

How well was that working? With calculators being ubiquitous, I can see adults today having trouble with simple math, never mind younger folk who’ve never used it since the third grade.

To say nothing of being a germaphobe to the point of fearing her own check would be unlikely to let some stranger in at all.

read somewhere that in Japan it’s rude to count your change. The implication is you don’t trust the person if you count it. But maybe that custom is gone now.

It was bizarre. There were long lines at the drivein (one of two lanes was closed – deliberately?), so I went inside. There were long lines there, too, where usually, at that time of day, there are none.

I saw no pocket calculators in evidence (strange – no backup?). The single inside clerk was able to use the cash register terminal to bring up item prices, but couldn’t complete the order in the computer. She had a cheat sheet written in pen/pencil, with the most common orders already calculated with tax. After taking an order, she called back to the kitchen, or had an order relayed by another clerk. She kept a tally in pencil, too.

There obviously was frustration and tension, but everyone seemed to accept it with minimal conflict. Maybe they were better prepared than I thought.