IF there’s one thing that’s a quick source of major embarrassment it’s the lack of money.

Most of us have been there at one time or another. You know, not sure how to make ends meet, wishing the next pay-cheque or injection of money was happening now rather than in two weeks' time.

Now I’m older, the children are grown up and daily money demands are less, feelings are diluted. But I had a practical flashback last week when I went to the Asda store at Middlebrook for some groceries.

They came to just over £30 so I couldn’t go contactless on my card but when I put it in the reader and keyed in my code, it refused the transaction. We tried it twice more with no success.

The lady on the till was perfectly pleasant – “Someone else had a problem with that reader this morning”, she explained.

Unfortunately, although I had funds in the bank to cover the costs, I was still a refused transaction so the supervisor was called.

She was also very pleasant. I had used the card only the day before and all was fine, I explained.

I was just about to get some cash after being in the store from their cash machine outside. Could she keep my trolley to one side so I could try my card in the cash machine?

She could. However, there was another shopper behind me at the till, studiously avoiding eye-contact and my embarrassment and I still had to do the “walk of shame” with the supervisor taking my trolley and me trundling uncomfortably behind her.

I was admittedly a bit shame-faced but I had faith in my card.

So when I tried it successfully in the cash machine and returned to pay for my goods, all was sorted.

I explained to another staff member beside my trolley that the till reader must then be faulty and she promised to pass on the information.

It was, though, a salutary experience in what happens when you can’t access cash in a public environment.

It was potentially very embarrassing and, if my circumstances had been extreme, just the kind of experience to make me really upset.

We perhaps don’t think enough about how the implication that we cannot afford something – never mind the actuality – affects people.

Several times, I’ve refused to increase my donation when phoned by a national charity on the basis that I really cannot afford to pay any more.

I’ve been honest about that, but felt “let off the hook” by the caller whose sympathy only came at the very last minute and left me feeling like a second-class citizen.

I don’t pretend to know how people feel who are really struggling to put food on the table, clothe children and pay basic bills (never mind extras for Christmas) but I do think we need to re-think how we treat each other over money.

The upset of not having much is compounded by the reactions of others.