Guiltiest Feeling: Cashing a Check

Clare Briggs

Clare Briggs

Clare Briggs is a famous cartoonist who lived from 1875 to 1930.

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4 Responses

  1. While I recognize the humor from this cartoon and while I recognize that the humor comes partially from a different time, as a former bank teller I suggest there’s another side to the “argument” that comic is making.

    The teller’s job is on the line. Now (or at least “now-ish”…I was a teller about 20 years ago so some things may have changed), there is a set procedure for what’s acceptable i.d. and as long as the customer follows that procedure and the teller follows that procedure, the teller is (mostly) protected from getting fired if things go wrong. There was probably less procedural protection at the time that Clare Briggs created this comic. At the same time, the teller was probably better compensated for their labors and risks of liability.* Still and even so, it’s usually not the case that the teller is sadistically making the customer jump through hoops. The comic isn’t necessarily painting the teller as a sadist, but it is portraying the hoop jumping as something that’s perhaps intentionally humiliating.

    I’ll confess that at least when I was a teller, we/I often stretched or disregarded the rules in certain cases. So the question of “why in that case and not in this case” is legitimate, even though there usually was a good or at least serviceable reason for making exceptions.

    *That better compensation may actually be coming back. When I was a teller, we were basically just customer service cash handlers at my bank. Now, at the same bank, tellers have been so downsized that they have to assume greater responsibilities for “cross-selling” or for opening accounts and maybe even taking loan applications. While they’re probably not paid enough, they’re probably paid more than I was and probably have something like full-time benefits, which I did not have until I was “promoted” to “permanent part-time” status after working there for about a years.Report

  2. Long ago, when I was a college freshman, I didn’t even get as far as this guy. There was another “Michael Cain” in town who passed bad checks. Even though he had a different middle initial, that wasn’t enough. Tellers (at banks other than my own) and clerks at stores checked the big book of bad-check writers that the Chamber of Commerce distributed, found his name in there, and refused my check.

    I was bailed out when my local bank, as an experiment, offered Visa cards with a $300 credit limit to freshmen who were enrolled in one of the university’s honors courses. (This was long enough ago that $300 comfortably covered the cost of a semester’s worth of textbooks.)

    I am astounded at the ease with which college freshmen today get credit cards with higher limits than I have on my card.Report

    • I went to college in the mid 1990s, and I (probably wisely) resisted all the numerous credit card offers I got. After I graduated, though, I tried to get a credit card and was repeatedly* denied because I lacked credit history. After a couple years, I went to grad school to get my MA and got credit card offers again. That’s how I built up my credit history.

      *That’s overstating it. I think I tried only two or three times.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The problem with asking for papers, please, when there aren’t really papers yet.Report

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