An Archaic Moment for an Early Adopter

I just did something I haven't done in years. Partly out of a desire to do something the old fashioned way.

I would not have done this if there were a lot to go through...but I had only two. Pieces of mail that is. With bills inside. I actually opened the check book, wrote out the amounts, placed the checks into the return envelopes, licked the envelope and shut it, then placed a stamp on it. I have not paid bills like that in years.

With most aspects of technology, I am an early adopter, as long as I can afford the technology. Using online bill pay has been my practice for years, especially after I calculated the costs of stamps, envelopes, and checks. It was kind of a no-brainer. I do remember have a few problems with it as some payments did not arrive at the destination on time. But the banks were always willing to speak to the payee and settle things if that occurred.

Today, just on a whim of sorts, I decided to use the US Postal Service to help me pay my bills. And it felt weird, maybe in a meaningful way:
  1. I had a more viceral connection with the process of thinking of that money leaving my control as I filled in the amount numerically, and then had to spell the amount. Somehow, in these financially axious days, that put me more in tune with the costs of our decisions, and forced me to consider, either with gratidute or with scorn, the amounts that were flowing out from my bank. To type a number online, and just hit send is too quick and easy to reflect on the meaning of the action.
  2. I had to laugh at the lack of security. I remember when people first started using the Internet buy things and pay bills. There was a lot of discussion about privacy and the fear of having personal information, especial financial information up for grabs. I must admit, it happened to me once, someone made an online purchase of flowers in Paris with my MasterCard. I guess I'm glad they found some other way to pay for their travel to France. Anyway, as I sealed up the envelope it dawned on me, I had no print out of the bill having been paid, no confirmation number indicating that the money had gone through. All of a sudden, I felt vulnerable, not to strangers going through my mail, but to the Postal Service and to the payee. What if I needed proof? We've come a long way, at least for me, that I feel safer paying bills online than by mail.
  3. Finally, I am occasionally reminded of how bad my writing is. I am guess there are schools for employees in accounts receivable. I hope they can read what I wrote on the checks. And I wrote only two. If I had a stack of bills to go through, my hand would hurt like it did in the old days, and my writing would become increasingly illegible.
So much for paying bills old school.