Over summer (which is fast approaching in the Southern Hemisphere), as Australians shed our clothes and inhibitions, lots of us will probably shed our wallets and handbags too. As a result, many will improvise by shoving a $20 bill into their bathing suits, bras, or undies in case they need to exchange money for goods and services while scantily clad.
For employees at Fascine Coffee Lounge in the Western Australian town of Carnarvon, customers pulling sweaty cash from their underwear is apparently a problem. Located 560 miles north of Perth, the town gets pretty hot and sticky, and working in hospitality is enough of a grind without introducing moist underwear cash. In response to concerns over hygiene, and it grossing everyone out, Corey Weeks (whose family owns the business) introduced a policy of refusing cash from bras and undies. The move, which would make Larry David proud, has attracted praise, criticism, and imitation from other businesses. We called Corey to see how underwear cash became such a problem.
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VICE: So what exactly does the ban cover?
Corey Weeks: Well we had a lot of people—no offense to women, but women—pulling money out of their bras right in front of us at the counter. Carnarvon has hot and humid weather, so it gets pretty sweaty in there. Money is already so dirty, we don't need the sweat too—remember, we're handling food. The staff didn't like it happening, so I said let's just put a sign up.
Was there a last=straw moment when you were like, I'm done with the boob sweat?
Yeah, one lady came in and did it just before we put the sign up and I just had to say, "I'm sorry but I can't accept that money." She had a bit of an argument with me about it. I just tried to explain my reasons why. I mean, you have wallets, and pockets, and handbags. It's not that hard.
What did she actually say?
She didn't really give much of a specific reason why I should take the money, she just sort of picked up her things and left.
I heard some people on talkback radio saying it was ridiculous. Have you personally had any backlash?
No, not that I've seen. We did have one lady comment, "What's the difference between someone holding money in their hand and in their bra—from a sweaty hand to a sweaty bra or underpants?"
That's honestly a pretty good point. What did you say?
I didn't really have a response to be honest. I'd just rather they have it in their hand than pull it out of their bra or underpants in front of me.
So a lot of this is about you actually feeling uncomfortable seeing someone reach into their bra?
Well, how would you like it if I walked in and reached into my pants, down to my undies, and pulled my money out and handed it over?
I wouldn't love it.
Like I said, people have wallets. Obviously most girls don't have pockets on their dresses, but you have handbags.
Are you like a hero among other local cafes for taking a stand? I'm sure you're not the only one it bothers.
Yeah the bakery in Woolworths—we're good friends—they said they might start doing it. And we had someone come through from another cafe up north and they said they might put a sign up over summer for the exact same reason.
Don't people just take out their money outside?
Yeah people have realized, and you see them taking out their cash outside then coming inside to pay.
Has this impacted business at all?
Well we haven't had to turn anyone away, so I guess it has worked. My friends have spread it all over Facebook. I told my dad to keep the sign up because people come in to just take a photo of it.
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