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Paul Turner: There’s a conspiracy against people writing checks

Here is today’s crackpot conspiracy theory.

You know how all sorts of businesses now want you to pay bills online instead of mailing checks? Sure. They aren’t subtle about it. Some of them might as well say, “If you continue to insist on using physical checks and the U.S. mail, we hope you will die soon and make way for younger consumers willing to get with the program.”

Anyway, I’ve decided this is why the last couple of batches of checkbooks I have received are all but impossible to use. It’s a plot. I see that now.

The companies that produce the checks, in cahoots with a network of evil corporations no doubt, have made it so that tearing an individual check out of a checkbook is about as challenging as disarming a bomb.

If you aren’t willing to spend 10 minutes painstakingly extracting a check from a checkbook, you’re almost guaranteed to rip or mangle it in such a way as to make it unusable.

I’ve had to resort to cutting checks out of the checkbook like some sort of animal.

(Same goes with the envelope-sized portions of the monthly statements that are supposed to be mailed back with my remittance. They used to tear off neatly along a perforated line. No more. Now that “Tear here” indication is a cruel hoax. It’s an invitation to make others in your household wonder why you are quietly cursing in the other room.)

OK, maybe I’m paranoid. But is there any reasonable alternative mindset in 2019?

This isn’t just a case of declining craftsmanship. Clearly this is a concerted campaign to force technology repudiators to toe the line. What’s the opposite of early adopter?

Sure, I could call someone and complain. But we all know how that would go.

“I’m sorry you are having that problem, sir. We haven’t heard that from anyone else. Have you had your prunes today?”


Go ahead and put me on hold while you and your fresh-faced colleagues in Iowa or India share a conspiratorial giggle. Go ahead and force me to listen to “Another One Bites the Dust” while I hold the phone and wait.

I know you want me to conduct all my business transactions via apps on my phone. I know your plan is to grind me down until I comply.

But here’s the news. You can take my real-paper checkbook from my cold, dead hands … well, I guess that’s what they are waiting for.

Still, soulless corporations shouldn’t underestimate the extent to which some of us of a certain age are willing to resist change. Even if XYZ Corp. makes checkbooks a pain to use.

Reminds me of a scene in 1972’s “The Heartbreak Kid.”

A man (Charles Grodin) persistently pursuing a young woman (Cybill Shepherd) informs her father (Eddie Albert), who does not approve of the romance, that he is very determined.

The older man fixes him with an almost amused look and says, “I eat determination for breakfast.”

Of course, Grodin’s character wears him down and prevails in the end. So maybe that isn’t the best story to illustrate my resolve to not pay bills online.

Why stop at Father’s Day?

We all know Father’s Day was invented in Spokane. We also know that lying has become the national pastime. Well, at least in certain high-profile quarters.

So I was just wondering. What if Spokane residents started lying about what else happened around here? You know, when talking with people on planes or whatever.

Unburdened by the restrictions of truth, what could we claim? I have a few ideas. I suspect you might, too.

The Wright Brothers operated a bicycle shop in downtown Spokane before they revolutionized our concept of powered flight.

Cats in Coeur d’Alene invented that thing where felines insist on getting in bags and boxes.

The B-17 was designed in Hillyard.

Though they achieved fame in Britain, the Sex Pistols got their start in Deer Park.

Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well on what is now Roy Dube’s farm south of Spokane.

The Lime dockless pickup trucks program sweeping the nation started here.

A business consultant in Spokane came up with the idea of referring to unsolicited phoning from a commercial establishment as “a courtesy call.”

The late Washington senator, Henry M. Jackson, acquired the nickname “Scoop” because he was eventually revealed to be the key Watergate news source known as Deep Throat.

Though often said to have happened at Deadwood in the Dakota Territory, Wild Bill Hickok was actually shot during a poker game at the original Donut Parade on the Northside.

Before making the leap to the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson played for the Spokane Indians.

Flubber was invented by James Glover.

Lewis and Clark reprovisioned at Thudpucker’s.

The original Rat Pack hung out at Northern Quest.

Ed Sullivan started as a columnist at the Spokane Chronicle.

We also invented the extended version of April Fools’ Day.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at