I love where I bank. It’s a branch inside of a big supermarket. I can make a modest withdrawal and then go and blow every last penny in the cookie aisle. The tellers at the window appreciate me. They know about my obsession with round numbers and understand that when I write a check to myself for $103.16, it’s simply to ensure that I have left an even amount in my account. The tellers also fill out the deposit slips for me because I keep confusing the account number with the routing number. And when I have to deposit more than two checks, I never add correctly, so they do it for me. More importantly, they occasionally laugh at my jokes. And they know exactly how much I have in my savings, so they can’t be doing it for the money.
The other day, this personal relationship I have with this wonderful staff was threatened by some new technology. Apparently, I no longer have to visit the bank several times a week to make deposits. Instead I can do it by simply clicking a photo of the check with my smartphone, a transaction that can be completed in the privacy of my home. All I needed to do was download an app, regardless that it would seriously cut into the quality time I spend with the only four people in Indiana who, at 9:05 in the morning, find me even mildly amusing.I couldn’t wait to try this. My wife was very suspicious of the new system, as she often is of high-tech stuff. But I convinced her this was perfectly safe, comparing the process to making deposits at an ATM. “Think of the app like a pneumatic tube at the drive-up window,” I told her. I didn’t have a clue what that meant. Ditto, Mary Ellen.“Just hold the check steady and I’ll take a photo of it,” I instructed my wife, as I grabbed the camera phone.“Not the way I look, Dick. Wait until I put on some make-up.”“You’re not going to be in the picture Mary Ellen. They just want the check.”“Don’t they need a photo ID?”“Very funny. Okay, I’ll hold the check at arm’s length and snap it myself.”I handed the cellphone immediately to my wife for her approval. “Is that a good picture of the check?” I asked.“No, but it’s a great photo of your thumb. At least I hope it’s your thumb.”I was determined to do this correctly, so I taped the check to the fridge, stood back and tried again. I didn’t get quite what I wanted, but I now had a great shot of me staring blankly at a refrigerator door. I think this selfie thing could catch on.I tried a few more times, but I kept getting error messages that my photos were fuzzy, the camera wasn’t steady, or the amount wasn’t legible. I never got this kind of flak from Brad, Sarah, Miranda or John at the bank, so why was I putting myself through this?I went back to my branch and told the entire staff that I preferred their outstanding customer service to using some cellphone gadgetry. I plan to continue banking there on a regular basis. Unless, of course, I can find an app that will laugh at my jokes.