Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How To: Infuriate Me by Holding My Check

Six weeks ago, we had the piano tuned for Aisling's benefit. Oh, why be such a liar? Okay, I also had the piano tuned for my benefit because it hadn't been tuned for seven years and some of the songs she was playing were so discordant by ears began to bleed and then just fell right off onto the floor, kind of like that scene from Blue Velvet.

Anyway, it cost $80 and I paid the piano tuner with a check and then promptly forgot all about it because I was kind of busy getting my ears re-attached.

That $80 was IN THE BANK on the day I wrote the check. It stayed there for days and days thereafter. But time marched on and the check wasn't cashed and then it marched a little further and still no check and by the time that particular rousing John Phillips Sousa was finished, so was my bank balance.

I spoke to the piano tuner's mother on the phone -- she happens to be Aisling's lovely piano teacher -- who said to me in a deprecating manner, "I don't know if you know this, but Brad's check bounced and that cost him $37.50 in fees from his bank and you know, that also puts his account in jeopardy because of checks he's written and...."

I had to stop listening then, I really did. Because I truly admire and respect Aisling's piano teacher, I really do. But FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!!! Why -- WHY WHY WHY? -- would anyone who has been paid for a service like piano tuning or leaf raking or transmission repairing or whatever HOLD ONTO A CHECK FOR SIX WEEKS BEFORE CASHING IT?

Don't people need the money? I'm trying to imagine living the kind of life where I wouldn't be out the back door in one hot second, leaping into the car and slinging gravel out of the driveway to cash a check for ten frikkin' dollars and....nope. No, I can't do it. I can do a lot of other things with my imagination, like wondering what that thing was I just saw out of the corner of my eye or if that bump on my arm is a mosquito bite or skin cancer or if the pains from food poisoning will be as horrible as I suspect they will if I eat the rest of that taco meat that's been in the fridge for over a week, but I just can't imagine not cashing an $80 check as soon as it touched my hot little hands.

I know good and well that the bank isn't going to see it my way. I am a nonentity to them. But if they cared, I would tell them (and maybe Brad, too) that a person who holds onto a paper check for SIX WEEKS in this age of instant banking with online bill pay and debit cards and PayPal is just begging to find some insufficient funds a-waiting when he finally works up the energy to go to the bank and endorse that personal check.

So now I still owe him $80, plus the $37.50 in ISF fees his bank charged him. And I know quite, quite well that our bank is going to demand its own pound of flesh and that I'm going to be paying them $37.50 as well. Which makes that original $80 payment, which I thought was so very reasonable, all of a sudden a little more dear than I'd intended it to be.

When I was collecting money for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival trip last year, I recall a few times when I held people's checks for a few weeks because I was waiting for everyone to get paid up and, because I am not a numbers kind of girl, I knew I'd be confused if I took one person's check and deposited it at one branch and then got another check a few days later and deposited it at another branch....you see my difficulty. It is very, very hard for me to count higher than ten because I run out of fingers: I can only count to eleven because I have a nose and I'm too stout to be always with the bending over and taking off my shoes and socks, although my most arithmatick time of year is the summer because I'm always wearing sandals...ANYWAY, I wanted to make it as easy on myself as possible.

But now I see that that might not have been all that easy on my traveling companions. So Virginia, Jerri, Michelle and Katie, if I held your checks for too long, I am very sorry.

1 comment:

Kayte said...

I don't get this...how does this work, I mean if you write a check and deduct it from your checkbook accounting, isn't the money there for when they cash the check? I have had people hold onto checks for almost a year...rarely, but it has happened, but the money is still there because my deducting it from my register makes it seem like I don't have it anymore. I think I am way behind in the times about these things.