We Really Aren't Con Artists

What I'm about to share is a true story. It sounds embellished or downright fictionalized, but I assure you, I am reporting it exactly as it happened. It is a funny story. It is also a humiliating story. This experience could open me up to all kinds of criticism--why I shouldn't use checks, how valuable credit/debit cards are, what are we teaching our children, among other things. I promise I've learned my lesson. Please just laugh at the story and don't feel the need to counsel me on our personal finances, parenting, life management skills or anything else. I'm already risking ostracism by my children for sharing this.
A little over two years ago, we began the Dave Ramsey/get out of debt/don't use credit card program. We cut up the credit cards and began to operate on a cash-only system. It was hard, but we were happy with the direction we were going. When I say cash-only, I include checks. Checks aren't a get-it-now and pay-for-it-later thing. To write a check you have to have the cash in the bank, so checks factored into our cash only program.
We'd lived in Twin Falls, a smallish city in Idaho with a friendly, home-town feel. I was able to write checks everywhere I went in Twin Falls. I didn't run into a single business establishment that refused my checks.
Then we moved to Utah. We bought a half-finished foreclosure in Utah County that was requiring a lot of work before we could move in. We were staying at my sister's house and we were still avoiding the use of credit cards. One evening, after a pretty full day of husband working at work, the kids working at school and me working on the house, we were exhausted and in need of a quick and inexpensive dinner.
So we headed to Ikea, where most of us (myself included) would enjoy a $2.50 kids meal. We loaded up our trays and walked up to the cashier where the six of us were eating for less than $20.00 and I began to write out a check to Ikea.
"I'm sorry, we don't take checks."
"Oh, really?" I said to the clerk. "Do you have any cash?" I asked my husband and children. My husband had a dollar and some change."I'm sorry," I said feeling oh, so foolish. "We don't have any cash. Are you sure you can't take a check?"
"We can't. We can take a credit or debit card," she said helpfully.
"We don't have either of those." She looked surprised. Banks were closed and my mind was racing to solve this dilemma. "I could run to Walmart and get some cash."
The clerk's eyes darted around the room. "Just take it. Don't say anything to anyone. Just take it."
"Oh thank you," I gushed. "As soon as we eat, I'll run to Walmart and bring you some cash."
"It'll be too late. I've already deleted this transaction. Just go eat and don't worry about it."
"I'm so sorry. You won't get into any trouble will you?" I asked.
"No, I'm a manager. I'm making the call. Just go."
So we did. We sat down and ate our Ikea dinner and then left. We stopped at my in-laws for a short visit about how the house was coming and then headed to my sister's house.
"Well, since we didn't have to pay for dinner, shall we split three shakes?" someone asked. We all enthusiastically agreed so we got off the freeway and pulled up to Iceberg, a place with shakes so large that no one person can possibly eat a whole one.
"We'd like two cookies and cream shakes and one rocky road shake," my husband said. (I'll bet you can't guess what kind of shake I was having!) "We'd also like three extra cups and spoons." The young man at the microphone gave us the total and I made out my check to Iceberg for the exact amount. By the time we'd waited for the car in front of us to pull out, our shakes were ready and sitting beside the window.
My husband handed the young man the check.
"We don't take checks," he said.
"You've got to be kidding," I said from the passenger seat.
"We take cash and credit or debit cards," he continued.
"I'm sorry. We didn't know that and we don't have either of those," my husband said, sounding like a naughty little boy.
The young man glanced behind him and then quickly shoved the tray with the three huge shakes at my husband. "Just take them and go."
"I'll drop off some money tomorrow," I said apologetically.
"No, then I'll get in trouble. Just take them and go."
We took the shakes and left.We didn't wait for the extra cups and spoons. We divided the shakes when we got home. They were delicious, but tasted a little bit like humble pie.

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Leslie said...

i totally remember this story. it sounds just as ridiculous now as it did then... and i HOPE you finally got a debit card. :) hahaha.

great story. ridiculous... but great.

mormon birth mom said...

I think it's hilarious, and what generous people you ran in to that day. I'm sure you found a way to pay it forward :)

Aim Aug said...

You are a pair of lucky ducks! We were at an ice cream place once, ice cream delivered, kids eating, before we realized hubbie had taken my debit card out of my wallet for something and left it in the bathroom. Of course we had no cash, we don't use credit cards either, no check book. I had to leave them there and run home (took me half an hour from AF and back! My ice cream melted while I was gone. Rub some of that luck off on me!

Kristi said...

Didn't you know, checks are a faux pas now. That is hilarious.
We never have cash on hand either. If I do I immediately spend it at my next Costco trip in the food court.

Chocolate dipped ice cream bar with almonds.

Lisa said...

wow. i'm surprised i have never heard that story. that was great, you sly foxes.

LL said...

you are a cheap date!
This story made me laugh. Good times!!

Tawnie said...

what the!!!! i think we will adopt this system. hillarious.

Melissa said...

Maybe I will leave my debit card/cash at home from now on, and try this! :-)

Unknown said...

What a scream!! I was in the line-long long line, pregnant (I passed out in the picture line) at the DMV in Las Vegas, when they wanted picture ID with my check (I had just left Provo where my check and check guarantee card got me everything). But I'm trying to get my Picture Id. I don't really remember how it turned out. (remember, I passed out just before they took my picture. Don't complain to me about how you look on YOUR driver's license.)
You've got great luck!!

auntie brooke said...

Gee, No wonder that Dave Ramsey thing works..... you never have to pay for anything. I am definitely trying that out.