Yes, I want a checkbook.

I was at a Chase branch yesterday opening a checking and savings account. Rosa, the friendly lady who assisted me, was surprised when I insisted on getting a checkbook for my account.

“What bills will you have?” she asked.

“Mostly rent,” I replied.

“You can’t do that online?”

I thought for a second. “I don’t think I can.” While my reply is not altogether false, it might not be altogether true either. Satisfied with my answer, she told me that 100 checks cost around $20 and I nodded my approval. Now I’m just waiting for my checkbooks to arrive.

This is how I imagine I look when I'm writing checks.

The truth is that checkbooks have the same effect on me that talking about becoming ballerinas or pilots have on other adults. While I was growing up, both my parents could never find the time to go to school and pay some bills themselves so they would always ask me to go for them. A lot of times, I would watch in fascination as either my mom or dad (mostly my mom) wrote out the full name of my school, write the amount in numbers and then spell it out on the second line always followed by the word “only.” My favorite part was when the glorious scribe would sign his/her name with a flourish. Those checks held inconceivable power and magic that my parents thought me worthy to share. As a lower-middle class child in an upper class institution, those checks were the closest I ever got to being one of them. So while other kids in my class were busy talking about how they were going to be politicians or politician’s wives, all I wanted was my own checkbook. I swear I’ve worked on my penmanship so that it will look amazing on the “pay to” line. I’ve also chosen pens based on how great I will look when I’m signing my name on a check. I guess that’s a little loony, but then again, what’s a childhood without a little crazy?

Now that I’m a grown up (or trying to be one), having a checkbook (and a nice fountain pen to sign with!) did not turn out the way I imagined. Sure, I have bills to pay, but there’s no magic invovled in paying them online (Okay, the internet is amazing, but it’s just not the same.). There is little care needed to find your payee on your bill-pay list, and there’s no flourish required to click “Schedule payment.” There’s no satisfaction whatsoever in having money taken out of your account and my only consolation was supposed to be that I wrote out a neatly written check, and now there isn’t even that. This is my fault, of course, since I always have the option of paying through check. The fact that I choose not to, I guess, shows that I sell out for modern convenience in the end.

But as I did yesterday, I ask for checkbooks when I can. Writing checks were something to look forward to when I was a child, and I should admit I still look forward to doing it today. It still strikes me as a small physical exercise that holds tremendous power. Modern convenience, pfft. The old fashioned way still kicks ass.

Is there something that modern convenience eliminated that you miss? Was there ever anything you really wanted when you were a child that you now enjoy as an adult?


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ahromada
    Aug 03, 2011 @ 11:14:04

    I finally got my first checkbook last year. A fancy-shmancy checkbook with all my favorite Disney characters in the backgrounds. It’s still quite necessary to have one to set up a direct-deposit for accounts payable or salary from a business. I actually love writing checks when I get the chance. :)

    Believe it or not, when I opened my bank account in England and I asked for a checkbook, they didn’t give me one. They don’t give anyone a checkbook. They haven’t given ANYONE checkbooks since 1998! Checks aren’t even accepted anywhere in the UK anymore by any business. Most UK banks won’t even accept a written check for personal use anymore. :( I was in shock. All I got was my nifty “dip your chip & pin” Cashpoint (Cashpoint = ATM in U.S. lingo) card. *sigh* Why does England have to make things so difficult?


    • sm1tt3nk1tt3n
      Aug 03, 2011 @ 11:19:07

      I can understand local businesses not accepting checks. They do risk getting bad paper when they do, especially if they are in a so-so neighborhood.

      Don’t you think it’s sad though, not being able to use all those nice checks? My BofA checkbook has those groovy hippie designs. My Chase ones will probably be plain. :/

      Maybe we can write each other checks? For services rendered? ;)


  2. ahromada
    Aug 03, 2011 @ 11:58:04

    In rape dollars? ;)


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