RANT: Old People Writing Checks

Here’s this week’s rant: who the hell still writes checks?

I own a Windows Smartphone – a Samsung i600 phone – and enjoy using it as a portable media player thanks to The Core Pocket Media Player. I have a 512MB SD card, and usually have several albums as well as a few podcasts on the card. The problem is, the phone doesn’t have a very powerful speaker (compared to a car stereo) and I usually have to listen through headphones. Wouldn’t it be more fun to listen via the AUX input of my car stereo or the cassette adapter of Lisa’s stereo?

And so – earlier this week I went to Radio Shack to buy an adapter that would allow me to connect a 3.5mm input to the standard 2.5mm output on my phone. It’s a simple piece of plastic and wires that I would normally buy online if I weren’t so hesitant to pay $6.99 in shipping for a $1.99 part.

And so – I walked into the empty store, and within five seconds I made a grievous mistake: the saleslady asked me if I needed any help, and like an idiot I told her I’d be fine on my own. Of course, I had no idea where the specific adapter was located, so whilst I was searching the store’s cramped racks, an elderly gentleman walked in. The poor guy was as old as the hills and has some sort of ailment that rendered his thick Southern accent almost unintelligible. If you wish, imagine Boomhauer from King of the Hill with a nasty case of emphysema.

And so – this old guy wanted to order some kind of part. I had located the adapters in question and was busy deciding between the “standard” and “Gold Line” version of said adapter as the saleslady was wrapping up ordering the old man’s part in their computer system. In fact, she has just given him his total – $160.49 – as I walked up.

Why do I still remember how much the old man’s total was? Well, it’s because the saleslady was Hispanic – Puerto Rican by my guess, but possibly Mexican – yet she had only the slightest of accents. If she were to call you on the phone, I daresay you’d probably miss the accent entirely. But even though her accent sounded much more like Kelly Ripa then Charo, it was just too much for the old man.

“That’ll be “$160.49, sir” she said.
“What?” he wheezed.
“$160.49, sir.”, she replied.
“What’d ya say?” he wheezed again.
“$160.49, sir”, she replied.
“Come again?”
“I cain’t understand you…”
“I’m sorry, you’ll have to repeat that…”
“One more time?”

After a few more moments of this, she got the bright idea of writing the total down on the back of a business card. She scribbled down the amount, then handed the card to the old man. His trembling hand took it and a light of understanding came on in his eyes. That same poor trembling hand then proceeded to write something ever so slowly onto the check. “Thank God!” I thought to myself. Then the old man handed the check over to the saleslady… and it was then that I saw that the check only had his signature and the numbered amount filled in. Somehow, the old man’s three minutes of scribbling had generated only his signature and the numbers “160.49” on the check! The saleslady had to fill in the name of the store and write out the actual dollar amount.

But that wasn’t the worst part. You know what’s coming next:

“Sir, I’ll need to see your driver’s license…”
“Your driver’s license?”
“I’m sorry?”
“Your North Carolina Driver’s License?”
The Saleslady the repeated the request for driver’s license, this time putting her hands in front of her and mimicking turning a steering wheel.
“My license?”
“Yes sir, your license…”

Of course, it then took Ol’ Trembly two minutes to get his license out, and another 30-45 seconds for the saleslady to copy down the relevant information.


Why? Why do people still write checks? I pay all my bills online and use a credit\debit card for just about every purchase I make. The only time I write checks consistently is for the occasional “hung-over pizza”, and that is – of course – because I just feel too crappy to go to the grocery store or Chinese place or whatever. I can pick up the phone and have Pizza Hut, Dominos or Papa John’s make my lunch while I sit and nurse a hangover, and all I’ve gotta do is scribble some stuff on this funny-looking piece of green paper.

But other than that, you can take your precious little “checks” and cram then where the sun don’t shine. And by the way, my total checkout time – from handing the adapter to saleslady to turning around to leave the store? Less than a minute. God bless plastic!

One Reply to “RANT: Old People Writing Checks”

  1. Totally agree. I live in a small town where 1/3 of the population is over 65. Going to Wal-Mart is always annoying. I go through self-checkout….you never see the elderly there !!!

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