Wednesday, March 17, 2021

I write exactly one check and use exactly one stamp each month

The checkbook sits on our computer desk, usually buried under a stack of papers and seldom touched.

Open it to the ledger and you will find that so far in 2021, we have used three checks. All three were written by me.

As our good friend Harry Styles sang, it's a sign of the times, friends.

Terry has always handled our finances, and as I've noted many times, she handles them well. Back in The Day (whenever that was exactly), this entailed writing out a long series of checks to utility companies, banks, and all manner of organizations of which, as the family breadwinner, I was only vaguely aware.

Jerry Seinfeld once remarked on the fact that whereas men wrote a couple of checks each month, women went through, like, a book a day.

This was not far from the truth, albeit way back in the 90s.

Now, of course, Terry pays all of our bills online. Not only is there no actual currency involved in these transactions, there's no actual, tangible anything. It's all electronic. It's fast, it's efficient, and it's convenient.

It seems the only reason for us to maintain paper checks around the house right now is Ed Michaels.

Ed, as I mentioned not long ago, is my saxophone teacher. He is an accomplished musician, nice guy, and all-around amazing tenor player. I love learning from him.

Ed is also old school. He and I do online lessons Mondays at 5:30pm at the low, low cost to me of just $15 a week. I pay Ed a month in advance, and I do so by mailing him a check, at his request.

Whereas Ed is good at using Google Duo for our lessons, he prefers that monthly check in the mail to, say, Venmo or PayPal.

So once every four weeks, I make out a check to Ed, address an envelope, take my monthly stamp from the book in the file drawer, and stick it on that envelope. Because we so rarely do this kind of thing nowadays, it feels like a long, laborious process.

So spoiled we are.

I'm OK with it, though, if only because it's a nice link to a past that feels increasingly distant. I wrote my first checks at the age of 18. In fact, that checking account I opened at Ohio Savings Bank as a teenager is still our primary checking account to this day.

Going further back, I also collected stamps for a brief time when I was something like 10. Stamps had (and still have) a mystique of their own, and philately is a worthwhile hobby, as far as I'm concerned.

So thanks, Ed, you chronologically gifted musical genius. If it wasn't for you, I'm not sure I would still remember exactly what to write on a check. I hope I never forget.

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