no wallet, no cash, how to get by?
October 21, 2005 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Today I left my wallet at home when I headed into the city by train. The train conductor recognized me as a monthly pass holder and let me stay on the train. So then I was in the city with no money, cards, ID or subway pass. I had a cell phone, an iPod, a book, a notebook and pen, two magazines, makeup, a bottle of tea and gum. From the train station, I walked to school, where there is free internet. Apart from borrowing/begging, how could I have gotten money to get home?

(I ended up telling the home-bound train conductor about my plight and suggesting that someone could meet me at the station and hold up my train pass for him to see, and this explanation was enough for him.) But still I wonder how I would have gotten money today, had I needed it.

One idea was that I could have transferred money to a schoolmate's Paypal account (I think PP keeps my info online and I do know my password) and then accompanied him to the bank where he'd withdraw the same amount from his account. But what other options are there?
posted by xo to Work & Money (37 answers total)
Sell something?
posted by box at 12:52 PM on October 21, 2005

You could've walked into your bank branch and identified yourself with your social security number to get your account number, with which you could've done a counter withdrawal to get some cash.

On second thought, though, that may still require photo ID these days.
posted by SpecialK at 12:53 PM on October 21, 2005

Sell plasma.
posted by bshort at 12:53 PM on October 21, 2005

Sell you ipod. Use the notebook and pen to do charicatures of people on the sidewalk and sell those. Take your book to a used bookstore and sell it. Do makeovers on the sidewalk.
posted by trbrts at 12:54 PM on October 21, 2005

At my bank, you don't need a SSN or ID. You just need to know the acct number and your PIN. YMMV.
posted by neckro23 at 12:56 PM on October 21, 2005

I might have asked the conductor for a pass to return home, if he was indeed sympathetic.
posted by kcm at 1:02 PM on October 21, 2005

Pawn the iPod; redeem it the next day.
posted by reverendX at 1:03 PM on October 21, 2005

Pawn your iPod. You could have then retrieved it the next day (or later the same day).
posted by cptnrandy at 1:05 PM on October 21, 2005

Did you have a jacket or other non-essential clothing that could be sold to a thrift store? You could have offered to rent your phone to people for calls.

My bank has the capabilities to issue a new ATM card on the spot, although I'm not sure how I feel about them giving me a new card without some form of ID.
posted by cmfletcher at 1:12 PM on October 21, 2005

Sell a lock of hair, like in that O Henry story.
posted by johngoren at 1:37 PM on October 21, 2005

Do you have a locker at school? Does your ipod have a case? Stash just a little bit of cash and a train ticket there, and if you ever use them, replace asap.
posted by teg at 1:39 PM on October 21, 2005

At least in New York City, the commuter rail trains will let you fill out a form promising to send the money for the fare in, and loan you a ticket home in cases like this.
posted by bemis at 1:42 PM on October 21, 2005

Use the notebook and the pens to make a sign:

"Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything - .25"
Though people might feel a little ripped off..

I found a sign on the street that some tourists made:
"Will read Shakespear in authentic British accent - .50"
posted by Jack Karaoke at 1:42 PM on October 21, 2005

You could have called a cab and paid him when you got home, unless yoou live in one of those paranoid places where they require some up-front proof of ability to pay.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:44 PM on October 21, 2005

I'm going to have to go with a rather obvious option, which is to borrow some cash from a friend.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:54 PM on October 21, 2005

Beyond what's already been said, if you know the account number and expiration date for any of your credit cards, you could go into a bodega, tell them the story, and ask if they'll charge enough for you to get home, and give you the cash. May require a cut for them, and there is a good chance they won't believe you.

A better version of this is the "cash withdrawal" option available when you charge something to your debit card. Again, this may require some smooth talking to get done without the actual card at your disposal, but if you know the account number and PIN, that should be enough to convince them that it is your card.
posted by ChasFile at 1:58 PM on October 21, 2005

You could have done what Mr. Bean does--place your collection handkerchief on the ground next to a blind street musician and dance to his music.

But the logical thing for an "xo" to do is sell hugs and kisses.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:06 PM on October 21, 2005

Perform bad dramatic readings from your book, with a sign stating that you'll stop when you get to $trainfare.

Throw in some interpretive dance and song for good measure. Including the iPod in your 'performance' will make it more hip and ironic, thus more horrible. Thus gaining more money, quicker.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:07 PM on October 21, 2005

1. Commit crime
2. Get Money
3. ???
4. Get Home
posted by raster at 2:18 PM on October 21, 2005

This isn't exactly an answer, but in case you get stuck in this situation again... the PayPal plan actually wouldn't have worked, I don't think, because PayPal has a delay on withdrawing a balance into your regular checking or savings account. I think it takes 3-5 business days, usually.

Of course, your friend could give you the money and be reimbursed automatically in 3-5 biz days when the transfer kicks in, but does that count as borrowing?
posted by Kosh at 2:18 PM on October 21, 2005

I was in the city with no money, cards, ID or subway pass. I had a cell phone, an iPod, a book, a notebook and pen, two magazines, makeup, a bottle of tea and gum.

Sounds like a MacGuyver episode. I'd say your best bet would have been to pawn the iPod or do some panhandling in Times Square.
posted by nyterrant at 2:20 PM on October 21, 2005

In Vancouver
(a) if you explain your predicament to a transit employee, they are 90% likely to just give you a ride.
(b) you can always ask a transit employee for an emergency ticket. they jot down your details and send you a bill in the mail.
(c) you can explain your situation to a cop, and i'm pretty sure they'd be forthcoming, too.
(d) call a neighbor to pick you up
posted by ori at 2:42 PM on October 21, 2005

Yeah, what's wrong with actualy borrowing money from someone?
posted by delmoi at 2:47 PM on October 21, 2005

For next time, have a secret stash of money at school/work in a friend's desk so you don't blow it on snacks. Or, find a micro-loan bank and agree to buy goats with the money and make cheese until it is paid back.
posted by mecran01 at 3:27 PM on October 21, 2005

Pawning the iPod won't work. Pawn shops require valid ID before they will let you pawn something.
posted by Sheppagus at 3:44 PM on October 21, 2005

If you have a tab at a restaurant or bar in the city, you could put somebody's order on it and take cash from them.
posted by I Love Tacos at 4:22 PM on October 21, 2005


Could be that "borrowing" sans any known acquintances from whom to borrow would feel an awful lot like "begging" to some people? I'm speculating, not snarking -- I know a lot of people feel uncomfortable with anything resembling a handout. Me, not so much; I'd just ask strangers for a bus ticket.
posted by cortex at 5:51 PM on October 21, 2005

what cortex said; surely bus fare is but a pittance... As long as you're not wearing rags and stinking of gin, people are fundamentally good; Give them an IOU, and be on your way.
posted by AllesKlar at 7:31 PM on October 21, 2005

and when I say IOU, I mean giving them a fake name
posted by AllesKlar at 7:32 PM on October 21, 2005

Am I the only one to notice A phone?

How about calling someone you care about and asking for help?

Transfer money from your bank account to western union?

posted by filmgeek at 8:21 PM on October 21, 2005

Response by poster: Some comments back: I said no borrowing/begging as a parameter to get some creative responses. I don't have anything against those solutions, I am just interested in more options.

As was pointed out, IDs are necessary for pawn shops, and I didn't have ID. ID is also necessary for picking up Western Union money.

My post states that I did get home by explaining my situation to the train conductor and getting an understanding/lenient response. Someone in class also offered me money for a ticket. I was just curious about what else I could have done. Like nyterrant alluded to: a little MacGyver style.
posted by xo at 9:17 PM on October 21, 2005

Collect soda cans. NY has a $.05 deposit, which is often ignored by folks; you may have to do battle with other scavengers and dig in the trash, but you can grab everything you need in a public park trash bin to walk to one of the deposit claim centers and get cash without an ID. You can also scavenge other items, but bottles and cans are certainly the easiest.
posted by eschatfische at 9:36 PM on October 21, 2005

I bet an ID would not be necessary for the pawn shop if you explained your situation and only took a small amount of money, enough to get home, but less than a thief would want to accept for an ipod.
posted by Iax at 1:44 AM on October 22, 2005

Well, first off all, if I hang around in school long enough, I will meet someone I know more or less and ask them to loan me whatever money I needed for the trip back. And that includes the professor (which I have loaned money from) and the cafeteria attendants (which know me by name).

If, for some reason there weren't a soul in school (or wherever I hang) I would start sending textmessages /ringing all my friends & family members I knew was not too far away. "Help, stuck in town without money!" And perhaps send out an email or ten to the same people.

Loaning money from almost-strangers isn't that bad. In fact one of my firmest friendships comes from me loaning money for books from a girl who was browsing the same shelves as I was.
posted by mummimamma at 2:15 AM on October 22, 2005

Well, you could always try travelling without a fare (might be hard or impossible), hitchhiking (ditto, since in urban areas most exit routes are too big), walking (if it's not too far) or any combination of the above. Also, if you have your phone, couldn't you peruse some sort of mobile paying scheme for public transit?
posted by lazy-ville at 4:10 AM on October 22, 2005

When I was little and obsessed with arcade games, I used to hunt around and under vending machines for extra change. You'd be surprised how many people drop their change and don't bother picking it up. Of course, you have to be willing to get your knees dirty...
posted by mandlebrotz at 9:11 AM on October 22, 2005

Despite your no begging/borrowing limitation, I will say this: I will give a dollar to the folks outside the terminal who come up with a good, elaborate 'need fare to get somewhere' tale. The way I see it, I'm willing to pay for good theatre. Similarly, if it's clear that someone really is in a suburbanite-forgot-my-wallet pickle, I will happily give them the whole fare. Money is easy to come by in life; Good karma not nearly so.

More in the spirit of the question: With the iPod: Perhaps you could 'sell' your login information to an online music store, with the understanding that the buyer could D/L what they wanted until you could get home and kill the account... or would the DRM preclude that strategy?
posted by Triode at 11:05 AM on October 22, 2005

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