Another in the series of AverageJoe’s day-by-day attempts to just get along. And failing. For other stories in the series, check out:
A recent post at DebtBlackHole.com showed some awesome Wonder Woman prints, and reminded me that we’ve probably come to the end of the golden age of taking out a pen and actually writing a check.
I miss that sexiness in my banking. I’m not referring to Wonder Woman’s …ah….assets, either.
My debit card has a free picture of a baseball on the front, but there was once a time when people would whip out a cool pad of Bugs Bunny checks to purchase a new toaster. Or pizza rolls.
Those were the days.
Better You Than Me
I’m that guy.
There’s no way I’d ever give up the few extra dollars it costs for Skeletor or the Detroit Tigers logo on my checking account. My checks are and always will be white with the name of my bank across the front.
But that doesn’t mean I’m a hater. I love creative checks if you use them.
Checks are gone partly because scammers figured out that it didn’t matter what you wrote on a check. If you shopped at Sears, you could make the check out to “Mickey Mouse” and write “One million, seven hundred and seventy seven dollars” across the front. If the little box said $32.50 in it, guess how much money was deducted from your account? You’ve got it. $32.50. And it wasn’t made out to your favorite mouse, either. The cash went to Sears because they’d presented it for deposit.
But that’s not the reason I miss checks. I have a better one for you. Read on…..
My Irrelevant Tale
My daughter, like many, played youth soccer from about six years old on. I’m not the world’s biggest drinker, but I so wanted to be drunk at these games.
The kids swarmed like hungry wolves around the ball, all kicking each other at the same time. You had no idea which kid was yours. Then again, it really didn’t matter.
The coach yelled, “Don’t bunch up!”
He was a nice guy, but if the best soccer advice you can offer is “don’t bunch up,” youth soccer strategy might be over your head.
Luckily, I met some nice parents at the games. Many are still friends today. One who isn’t, is Dick Smith.
I’d plop down my chair next to this dad, Dick, who was out there like me, taking one for the team every week. He was a flat-out super guy. Distinguished looking grey hair. Tall and thin with an easy smile and easier laugh.
I’d always try to sit next to him because Dick was a vice president at a frozen food manufacturer and always had good engineering stories about process management and green beans. I’m a sucker for logistics and keeping veggies icy, apparently, because I had tons of questions and always was mesmerized about how the shipment to northern Ohio dethawed while the trucker frantically tried to keep the refrigerator running.
I’d pull up a chair and say, “Hey, Dick! How are you?”
He’d smile back at me as I slumped next to him. We’d watch our daughters kick each other and the ball for about 45 minutes and chat.
This went on for about two and a half years.
So far, so good, right?
Each week I’d walk down the sideline. He’d be sitting there, pretending like he wasn’t trying to pull his hair out. Then his miserable look would melt as he’d see me and smile, “Joe! How are you?” I’d reply, “Hey, Dick! Mind if I join you?”
Of course, he never minded.
It took the pressure off watching the game.
Our daughters went to the same school. In a big parent money-grab for the Parent-Teacher Organization, semi-annual teacher conferences dumped into the library, where a huge Scholastic Book Fair sucked money out of our checkbooks.
It was expected that you’d buy your kid a book after the conference.
Dick and his wife, Margie happened to be in the book fair when Cheryl and I finished meeting with the teacher. As always, our daughter had a fine conference and we were doing our duty by buying her a book.
The line for the cash register was a mile long. I thought about heading to Barnes & Noble to buy our book. Who’d know? My daughter wouldn’t have a clue where it came from.
I was just telling Cheryl that we should ditch the fair when I saw the Smiths.
“Hey, Dick!” I said, waving. My mood changed immediately. Now I could stand in line for a long time if Dick was there. We’d just talk frozen food, sports, or whatever.
The four of us chatted for about a half hour before we finally made the front of the line. Dick motioned to Margie.
“Can you hand me the checkbook?”
“Sure,” she said, rummaging through her purse.
She pulled out the checkbook. Dick opened it and took a pen from his pocket.
Because I love checkbook art, I leaned in to see what print the Smiths were sporting and turned white.
Across the top of the checkbook it said Mark and Margaret Smith.
….I know now…..
I can’t believe he’d kept smiling at me for two and a half years…..