Paper or Plastic?

While waiting in line (or on line if you are a New Yorker) at one of my favorite stores, Dollar Tree; I saw the most horrible sight when you are in a hurry—someone paying by check. Some of you might be thinking to yourself “What is a check?” Well, it is the non-cash method of paying for things. Back in the day to pay by check you needed two forms of identification in order to prove you were you. Some consumers would give a check to vendors of products and services that they did not have money to buy.

The difference between a check and a credit card is that a check—while paper—can bounce (theoretically). This is because the person was essentially stealing if they knew that there was not enough money in their account to pay for the item or service they purchased. This was (and is) a form of fraud. In Florida it’s a 1st degree misdemeanor to write a bad check up to $150 and 3rd degree felony for one over $150.

The other problem with being in a hurry when behind a check writer it that they typically take what seems like forever to the fill the stinkin’ check out. This woman was locked and loaded though. She had pre-signed and dated the check. Unfortunately, it still took her quite a long time to get her purchases on the counter with one hand. But hey, she was prepped nonetheless.

The funny part of this whole transaction was that the cashier had to call the manager over in order to process the check. Now I am unaware of how long the clerk had been working there but since he did not know how to process the check I found it quite comical.

Odder still, is the way the manager processed the check. Well, not so much the processing, but the fact that the check was given back to the customer after she had signed a register printed receipt. This receipt was longer than your typical credit card receipt but still ODD that the check was basically wasted. Maybe I think it is odd because I am not terribly great at keeping up with trends or technology. Maybe it’s because I don’t really pay by check for anything these days.

In contrast, I know that checks can be electronically submitted to checking accounts with apps (that’s short for application. XD) these days. But why even draft a check anymore? Why not just use an electronic format for refunds and purchases? If it was me and I saw that checks were processed in that way, I would definitely give up spending the time to write a check. Not to mention purchasing them.


Maybe checks are still in circulation because all vendors are not as advanced as Dollar Tree (she wrote flippantly). Maybe there are people who cannot let go of the paper and embrace the plastic. Whatever the case I believe there will be a day when a cancelled check will be in a museum somewhere and a Gen Alpha will ask their Generation Z parent what is that little rectangular flat thing with scribbles on it? If there are no checks there will likely be no paper or handwriting either. Hmmm….


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