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Check this out! (03/31/2014)
By Frances Edstrom
New bank checks came in the mail today with a new design — personalized. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if you really could personalize your checks? Never mind writing them in numerical order. You should be able to choose the check to match the message you want to send.

It’s your first apartment. The rent is a stretch, but you take the leap. The first time it rains, there is also a shower over your bed. The “glass-half-full” side of you wants to think, “Well, this will save time getting ready in the morning.” The “glass-half-empty” part of you counts the days until the lease is up. You have called the landlord and his wife says he’s out of the country, and to put a pail under the leak. The first of the month comes around, the leak is still there. You want to send a message to your landlord. You choose one of your brand-new checks with the kitties in blue bows on them, with text stating, “I’m going to report you if you don’t fix that leak!”

You and your husband go out to dinner for your first anniversary. You decide to splurge on a bottle of wine. You are carried away by the romance of the evening, and don’t pay attention to the price. When the bill comes, your husband pales and starts to sweat. You look at the bill, too. Hmm. You already drank the wine; in fact, you are feeling the effects, but not so much that you aren’t shocked. You wonder if the mortgage payment can wait two weeks. You choose the check that says, “I could have bought this for $2 and screwed off the cap myself!”

Say your child comes home with wrapping paper to sell. You don’t want to buy wrapping paper. Your mother doesn’t want wrapping paper, nor does your mother-in-law. You feel bad about sending your little darling around the neighborhood selling wrapping paper that everyone knows isn’t enough to wrap even a shoe box. So you break down and write a check to pay for some of the stuff and get the fundraiser over with. You can choose a check that says, “And stop asking!”

How about the electrician who put in that outlet you always wanted, so you can have a lamp by your chair. But it keeps tripping the circuit. You complained, and he said, “You probably shouldn’t have put an outlet there.” And he sent the bill anyway. Ah, you say to yourself, this is the perfect opportunity to choose the “And this is the last you’ll see from me!!” check.

Your high schooler’s social studies class is planning a trip to Paris, and the teacher thinks it will be a good lesson in the excesses of a Capitalist economy even under Socialist rule, and has made reservations at the Four Seasons. Your kid begs and begs, and all his friends are going, he says. You say you haven’t even been to Paris. Heck, you can’t even afford a French manicure. He doesn’t care. He says he hates you and all his friends know it. You reluctantly write the check, but you choose the one you’ve been saving for this occasion. It says, “Be afraid.”

Then your senior in college calls and needs money because his car was towed. When you grill him you discover it was towed not because of a snow emergency, but because he left it overnight in a restricted parking area across the street from the bar where he had too much to drink. Hmm. You decide to write two checks, each for half the amount. The first check says, “We are proud of you!” And the second check says, “Next time you’re on your own!”

Your daughter is getting married and “invites” you along to shop for wedding dresses. She finds a dress she loves, but you look at the tag, and tell her you didn’t pay this much for your first car. She begins to cry. She texts her father, begging for the dress. She calls your mother and cries and wonders aloud what happened in your youth that makes you so stingy. You can’t take the pressure, and give in. You choose the check that says, “This is highway robbery, and I’m going to tell all my friends!”

Now suppose you decide to pre-pay your funeral, and save your children the anguish of trying to decide between pink metal or a pine box. You carefully go through your personalized checks. You are looking for the one that best expresses how you are feeling at the moment. Ah! Here it is. “Over my dead body!” 


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