What I would like to say is, "I just got money out of the ATM (which isn't a term that exists here either, so I would have to come up with some other word) and your little machines only give me 100 lei bills, or 50s if I'm very lucky. And because my bank in America doesn't exist here, not only does this necessitate withdrawing from an ATM rather than a bank (where presumably I could get these smaller bills you desire?), but it necessitates removing reasonably large quantities each time I withdraw, so as not to incur the ATM fees more than necessary. So, I'm sorry but NO, I DO NOT HAVE A SMALLER BILL. I do however have 8 other identical 100 lei bills if you would like any of those. Thanks." But I can't say this because my Romanian currently consists of approximately 50 words, most of which are not verbs, and none of which are even remotely close to any of those words. And because I would likely go into Spanish anyhow.
I have been encouraged by my fellow Americans to break large bills whenever possible- e.g., at stores like Carrefour (like SuperWalMart) or Praktiker (like Home Depot), or even the bigger grocery stores (G-Market). Under no circumstances should I assume a taxi driver has change for a 50, considering that the majority of my rides cost under 10 lei. In fact, if I only have 50s, when I get into a cab, I should hold it up to him and say "Scimba (Change)?" And I should not even plan to buy something for under 10 lei if I only have 100 lei bills, probably not with 50s either. Because I might be drug out into the streets and ridiculed for being so inconsiderate.
I just don't get it. Why is it that in America the check out clerks look at you with annoyance if you take the time to make exact change, yet people here look at you with annoyance if you DON'T have exact change? We're talking down to the coinage level, all of which are less than 25 cents. It seems so odd to me that something so seemingly simple it could be so drastically different. And it seems counterintuitive. Usually Americans are the lazy ones who don't feel like making change- it should be HELPFUL to you Mr. Duane Reade man that I am helping you do your job. And Romanians are the ones who have all the time in the world, no hurry, no pressing need to get things done quickly. Yet you're giving me the Eastern Europe Death Stare (you'll know it well after about 15 hours living in an Eastern European nation as a foreigner) because I simply Do Not Have Change?? Wait, let me get this straight, you actually will not sell me these 5 oranges because I don't have exact change? True story, happened to one of my teammates. I wish I were kidding. That may have been in France though... In any event, I needed to comment upon this oddity, simply because I have noticed it in so many countries other than the U.S. of A., and it still does not make sense to me. I think I am going to learn all the words in my aforementioned How I Would Like to Respond paragraph just so I can be vindicated the next time it happens. Or perhaps just laughed at.