Leisure time is a good thing

Leisure time is a good thing. Who could disagree?

Leisure time should be at the beach, Bushnell Park, Fenway Park, on your couch — not in the line at the store.

I always get behind the person who has to fish through his or her belongings to find the elusive CVS card, and then pays by check. This person first searches for a pen, sometimes two — because the first is dead, then logs the purchase in his or her checkbook register, recalculates the balance, then writes out the check. The cashier then asks for a license, and in some cases pages a manager to come approve the transaction. Those behind this person in line juggle their sundries and groceries and are undoubtedly thinking the same thing: “Am I in a time warp?”

When I find myself in this situation, I think to myself: This is 2007. We have satellite radio, 500 channels on TV and cameras on cell phones. Does this antiquated shopper also use a rotary phone at home? Does this dinosaur still watch a black-and-white television? Does this relic of the past still think Joe Namath will lead the New York Jets to another Super Bowl and can’t wait to vote for George McGovern in the next election?

I remember in the 70s — long before ATMs — my mother would have to rush to the bank on Friday nights to get cash for the weekend. I vividly remember her writing checks at stores. That’s the way it was done then. Now, like the vast majority of people, my 60-something mom uses a debit card and goes to the ATM. A transaction that used to take 5 minutes, often takes less than 1 minute. Anyone with a checking account can get a check card. The scanner at the register approves the sale in seconds and instantly adjusts your checking account balance. It is so easy and very considerate to your fellow shoppers.

To be fair, maybe there should be special checkout lines for those who want to pay by check. There could be a dark-paneled waiting room with television sets airing re-runs of “Laverne and Shirley” and the Watergate hearings. The restroom would have an avocado green toilet and sink. This waiting room would be a total throwback to the things we are glad to see gone: Smoking would be allowed.

I’d like to hear from you. Be sure to leave at least your first name and town with your comments.

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12 Responses

  1. My mom usually fills out the checks with everything but the dollar amount beforehand. Otherwise, you get looks from the cashier at Wal-Mart! I do hate when the check won’t go through the machine that reads them. It takes forever when that happens.

    Luckily, I shop with my mom very early on Saturday morning. We go to Shaw’s for groceries, and then either to Wal-Mart or Target for other things. Only rarely do we run in to crowds unless it’s the holidays. We never go at 1:00 on Saturday afternoon.

  2. Believe me you would not want to get behind my husband trying to use a debit card.

  3. I use something old fashioned. It’s called “CASH”.

    It keeps me from living in debt

  4. Ok, I may have been one of those persons writing a check, but who cares. It such a small thing. Just be patient. If you go into a store you need to expect these things. If you are in a hurry the wait will seem longer. What I really hate is to be the 2nd person in line with the third person sighing because the first person is taking too long. I’d love to turn around and say, look pal, can you stop that sighing, it doesn’t make the line move any faster and it’s very annoying. And when the cashier tells you she is sorry to have to make you wait so long, say to him or her “oh, that’s ok”. Spread some cheer! I go to too many places where the workers don’t know what to do when someone is nice to them, so we all need to be nicer to these people just out there making a living. Have a great day!

  5. I agree…its just like the commercials they have been showing when everything just stops for the person writing a check

  6. I guess I am one of those pains in line – I still write checks (do not have a debit card) – do not have an ATM card – still write checks to pay my bills and do not have a cell-phone. I survived almost 70 years without those items = believe I can survive the rest of my days the same way.

  7. On one hand I agree with your comments. I’m almost to the point of getting annoyed when a persons chooses charge over debit. It means they have to spend extra time signing the slip !

    Have you ever been in a drive-thru ATM and you swear the person in front of you is applying for a mortgage ?

    We want our news in 30 second soundbites, or better yet scan some headlines on wfsb.com

    We have become an instant gratification society.

    The flip side is people need to chill out a little bit when someone is (gasp), driving the speed limit. Or maybe moving a little slowly through the isles at the grocery store.

    Relax CT !

  8. I agree, but at the same time I have parents (both in their 60′s) who do not have a computer and still write checks as they do not have debit cards. My dad refuses to get direct deposit at work. He is the only one who still receives a hard check. I guess that is one of the perks of working in a family business. He’s afraid of someone making a mistake and depositing the wrong amount. My parents still use rotary phones believe it or not and my dad won’t accept the scanned in images of checks when he gets his bank statement. He wants the hard checks back! They do, however, both have cell phones, which my in-laws do not have and refuse to get! I suppose when you are used to things one way for so long, it’s hard to change.

  9. You know, not everyone has a ton of money in their account. Writing a check still gives you some float time if you need it — not much, but some — until that paycheck is deposited!

  10. Please chill. You need to be patient with people. After all, one of these days it will be you as an old fuddy-duddy holding up the line.

    Dee, West Hartford

  11. I am in favor of a 10% surcharge for people that insist on paying by check.

    On the other hand, there should be a 10% discount given for people that use “self-service” checkout isles at any store. If the store is going to save money by not paying for a human then they should share some of this savings with the people doing the work, the consumer. What happens if I get injured while checking out my purchases, am I covered under their workers compensation policy? I do my volunteering with non-profit organizations, not stores.

  12. I agree with you Dennis, totally. You did a fine job on your blog and I am glad you brought it up. I always seem to get behind someone who is buying a million things while I have one thing and cash in hand ready to pay. Most of the time, the shopper ahead of me doesn’t even offer to let me go first (which I find rude),but that is another story. Checks are outdated….save them for paying bills at home and not in line.

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