Over the years, I’ve been issued a few bad checks after rendering my farrier services. The excuses were all unique; some trivial, some real.
Thankfully, these unfortunate situations were mainly a slight mishap in math, an unexpected debit to their account or a result of deposits not being deposited. Most were taken care of quickly.
There were a few cases that required a few phone calls from me and a little persistence, kindness and patience. One time, I had to resort to getting flat-out mean. Then, there was the case of the “Big Plastic Check,” and I’m going to have a hard time sharing this without stopping to laugh several times.
I’d Been Warned, but Didn’t Listen
It was much earlier in my career that I worked for “Linda.” I had already been warned that she wasn’t good for payment when I hauled a horse to her place before taking her on as a farrier client. But since Linda paid cash when I delivered her horse, I wasn’t too worried when I showed up at her place a few months later to shoe several horses for her.
I shod a couple horses and was issued a check by her (back in the days before Venmo, PayPal and all the other countless electronic payment options, checks were actually the main form of payment). So, I was slightly surprised a few days later when I got a letter from my bank stating that Linda’s check was returned due to “non-sufficient funds” in her account.
I immediately tried calling Linda from my truck, parked on the curb in front of the post office — no answer, of course. Over the next couple of days, I called countless times with no answer. I even stopped by her house, but nobody was home.
A knee-jerk, low-rent reaction would’ve been to pull the shoes off Linda’s horses, but it’s not the fault of the horses that their owner is a flake. I went home, stewing over getting owed money. I didn’t live horse to horse then, but I sure could’ve used the money. Most of all, the principle of the situation ticked me off more than the dollar amount.
A couple days went by, and as I was walking into a convenience store, I stopped out front and used a pay phone (yeah, there were still a few out there in those days) to call Linda. To my amazement, she answered the phone. This is pretty much the way our conversation went.
“Linda, this is Trevor Hall, you wrote me a bad check and I need to get that cleared up as soon as possible. I’m not too happy that you’ve been ignoring my calls for about a week now.”
Linda replies, “Run the check through again, and if it’s still bad, I don’t know what to tell you, but you will be out of luck, and there’s not a darned thing you can do about it.”
Right then, I was thinking that she had just declared war on me when the line went dead as she hung up the phone. Back then, I was quite short-tempered, but at that moment, I was stuck between trying to do the right thing and not getting irritated and ruining it all. So, I quickly figured, let’s not get mad, but let’s get even. The wheels in my head began turning.
The Bigger, the Better
Later that day, I took the copy of the “non-sufficient funds” check down to the local printing company and had it copied onto a giant-sized plastic check, just like you see on television being handed out at the big golf tournaments.
With some investigating, I learned Linda worked at the local Wells Fargo Bank as a personal banker (pretty ironic that she would write a hot personal check while holding down that job). So, I thought I would pay her a visit.
First thing the next morning, I strolled into the bank with my 2 ½-by-5-foot check tucked under my arm. Sadly, Linda wasn’t at her desk at that moment. She was in a meeting, but the receptionist said she should be out at any time.
I sat at her desk for about 5 minutes before the door to the meeting room opened, and out strolled Linda, along with who appeared to be the branch manager and a few higher up looking folks.
The look on Linda’s face went from smiling to a mix of fear and panic when she saw me sitting at her desk. This was less than 24 hours after she spouted off the “you’re out of luck” line to me on the phone.
She hadn’t seen the check yet, but when I pulled it out, I thought her knees were going to buckle, as everyone else in the branch also saw it. I held it up and told her, “I can stand out front here at the bank and share with everyone who their personal local banker is.”
The manager witnessed the situation, came over and asked what the issue was. I quickly told him that, “Your employee knowingly writes bad checks and has been known to make a habit of it.”
I could tell he wasn’t happy with her and didn’t quite know which page to turn to in his situational instructional bank flipbook to learn how to handle this “unfortunate situation” that was about to unfold in his lobby.
By this time, Linda was trying to drag me outside with hushed tones in her cursing words. She was mad enough to consider beating me with a blunt object.
I told her that I needed the cash in my hand in 1 hour, or I’m going to raise one heck of a scene in the bank parking lot. Borrowing the line she spoke to me on the phone yesterday, I told her that there isn’t a darned thing she can do about it.
In a state of smug accomplishment, I proudly sat on the tailgate of my truck for about 45 minutes before Linda’s extremely mad husband showed up and thrust cash in my hand.
In the true mix of banty chicken and short-man syndrome, he wanted to square off with me for embarrassing his wife. I laughed, snatched the cash out of his hand and tucked it in my pocket. I told him to thank Linda and through the crack in the widow of Linda’s care, I gladly left a souvenir — the big plastic check.
- 8 Tips to Improve Your Efficiency: Maximize your time investment in each horse with a few simple steps.
- How to Collect Money Clients Owe You: Don’t give up when a client fails to pay you — take appropriate means to recover your money.
- Protect Your Practice From Crisis and Debt: Properly managing your money will help ensure a successful footcare practice.