Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Check one, check two ...

I haven't ordered checks for at least as long as we've lived in this house. The few I have left harken back to an address in the East Hillside. Being 2013 and all, I determined I'd probably never have to order checks again. What's the point? They're practically the dodo bird of bill pay. Most things I pay for are automatically taken from my checking account. If not, I can pay online. I would probably forget there was every a such thing as checks except that very rarely an old woman will whip one out at the grocery store and I'll sigh involuntarily as she writes in cursive "Twenty-three dollars and 49/100 -----------," licks her finger, tears it from the leather bound book, updates the balance.

But here in this sleepy Northern town, if you want someone to check the electrical work in your kitchen or keep your basement from spitting sewage on your pile of dirty socks and undies, they prefer to trade their services for checks. This is what is currently standing between me and my credit report: Being billed by someone I cannot pay electronically most often results in me forgetting to pay.

So with a couple of these bills ripening on the kitchen table, I decided to fucking order some checks. This was such an annoying and tedious process that I almost just got into my car and blasted off to 2045, where I could be sure this shit for sure wouldn't happen again.

1. Go to your bank's website, click the customer service tab and wade through all sorts of stuff you don't care about while looking for something that might simply say: Order Checks. Impossible. This function is actually located under something called Check and Deposit Ticket Orders. Because brevity hasn't yet hit this corner of the internet.

2. Get redirected to a third-party site where there are all sorts of festive checks to choose from. Love the Vikings? Love cats? Love Yosemite Sam? Let your electrician know with a pack of designer checks. One must scroll to find something classic or traditional. In 2013 it is impossible to own something that doesn't give people a sneak peek at who I REALLY AM DEEP DOWN GO VIKES!

3. Because this third-party site didn't exist the last time you ordered checks, if you plan to order them today the default is to start at Check #101. This is obscene. I've had a checking account with this bank since before I wore a bra. And back before I got my first bra, my mom explained to me that having a check #10 or #20 would result in laughter from the shopkeeper presented with my purchase of Wet & Wild nail polish and Tiger Beat. "They'll know you're a beginner and they won't trust that you have money in your account," she said. So my first checks were numbered in the hundreds.

4. I could change the number on my first check of 2013, but I have no idea where I left off back when I did still write checks. This is causing me the most boring kind of stress.

5. I decide to go to the bank in person and sort this out with a human being. When in Rome, and all that. This place now has a greeter, who seemingly doesn't trust that a customer can walk in the door and figure out where to go next. She's smiley and I bet her hair smells good and she cops a few moves from Vanna while directing me to the desk of the World's Foremost Uptalker.

6. The Uptalker won't let me start at check 10,000. She snorts, actually. "I've had a checking account since I was 12. And for part of that time, I belonged to Columbia House," I say. "I've written so many checks." It probably doesn't matter in 2013, but for some reason it feels like if I repeat a check number that I used in, say, 2000, I'll get sent back in time and find myself rocking a pair of bib overalls and listening to Third Eye Blind playing on a juke box at a bar that doesn't exist anymore.

7. We compromise.

8. Sometimes people from this bank call me and want to talk about different services they offer and rewards points and other junk and I tend to say something like: "Can't we just not talk about this and keep things the way they are?" And they usually sigh contentedly and agree. But now that I've walked in on my own free will, the Uptalker wants to talk to me about blah blah Zzzz. I have no idea what she's asking or what I'm answering but she seems pleased with my decision.

9. It occurs to me that I sound like Andy Rooney.


Anonymous said...

My bank will cut a check and mail it for us using our electronic bill pay feature. Easy peasy. We use PNC.

Christa said...

Some people get all the technology.