A few days ago, a friend of mine tagged me under a very serious article about the potential disappearance of checks in France. Reading the comments left under the post I had to laugh. Let me first apologise, I know it’s not nice to giggle when people express fear or complain. But this was just too much! The banking system, the checks, the complaining and the self-centered view (could it be other countries quit using checks decades ago and are still standing?) are topics we have regular good laughs about at home. We need to if we want to accept them with good spirit! For me, just from an eco-friendly standpoint we should get rid of them, so much paper wasted… but I’m getting side tracked here.
Before moving to this beautiful country, never once in my life did I write a check. They simply don’t exist in Belgium! Well, not entirely true: you do sometimes go to the bank to obtain an already filled-in check when for example you buy a house and have to give a deposit. You don’t walk in with cash; imagine the notary receiving thousands of euros in bills or coins, not really appropriate and more associated with under the table money than official business. That is the only situation in which I actually got a check in my hand. Wait a minute! Once again not entirely true. It so happened once that a family member living in France sent us a check for Christmas. We had to go to the bank, deposit it and pay a good part in transaction fees as it is absolutely not “business as usual” to cash a French check in a Belgian bank. Ah well, a bit frustrating but what can one do?
Came my time to shine and excel at a new task, I just love a new challenge! I wrote my first check in my late thirties when we signed the lease for our house in France. I looked so tensed and stressed with our relocation agent looking over my shoulder and pointing out each space I had to fill in my husband felt the urge to take a picture of me whilst I was concentrating really hard on this new task! I don’t look at my best here but it is a really good memory of a very emotional day.
After more than 3 years it still never occurs to me to leave the house with my check book in hand. More than once did I have to go back home to grab it as it was the only way forward to pay! I’m sure I’ll pick up on this habit and be organised on the day we’ll sail on to our next destination! Better late than never they say! I do pride myself in being adaptable; with this topic it doesn’t come naturally but I’m doing my best to get there!
If only wire transfers were as big a thing in France as they are in Belgium, it would make my and many people’s lives easier!! Don’t get me wrong, my check book can be handy. I see it as a cultural discovery, something new to learn. And it is never to late to learn! The silly little things that make my daily life of a Belgian expat in France exotic!
Do you use checks? Are you used to them or lost because where you live they don’t have them?