Living in a nation which prides itself on the consumption of money and the efficiency in which we recklessly spend it on frivolous items, spending money is no real chore for most of us. When the mighty debit card rolled around supported by telephones to make the task of taking your money away easier and faster than ever, the check has fallen to the wayside.
That’s not too great of a shame, really. I was reminded of this at lunch today in Bremerton. The cafe downstairs makes these wonderful pizza wraps that they only charge four dollars for—quite a steal for something filled with cheese, sauce, sausage and other such materials that will kill you in 50 years. Cigarettes are arguably better for you than this food item. But I digress, while waiting to pay for my order, a woman in line ahead decided that she wanted to pay for her $5.15 purchase not with cash or an electronic card, but with a check. Not only did she refuse to start writing the check until the total was announced, but insisted on writing it in her ledger before moving after the transaction. To give this whole episode an ignominious ending, she finally stepped aside with a “your turn!” before she fell into the hole that I was visualizing suddenly opened up beneath her.
This is the moral and ethical equivalent of walking into a store, selecting a box of three dollar cold medicine, and instead of paying with the $20 bill in your wallet, hauling out the large bag of coins from your pocket and counting out the three hundred and twenty four pennies, while thinking that this is somehow normal. At the end of this episode this imaginary person would also projectile vomit on the checker and person behind them in line just for good measure before shooting them both in the leg.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still like the idea of a check. If I go out and buy a 56” plasma HDTV to watch grown men hit each other for money, I don’t want to spend multiple thousands by simply handing the person a small plastic card and then signing my name on some shiny piece of paper. If I’m going to spend more than some people make in a lifetime, I want to write out the total in two different spots—one numerical and the other in full. I want to take my time and make it seem that I carefully consider my purchases. I want to make sure I really do have that much in the bank. I want to make the people behind me wait in line looking at my awesome new piece of crap that will break in 5-10 years. And that’s what a check should be for.
Not for some whorebag who decided it would be amusing to pay for a cheap lunch with a check.