April 25, 2003

OH! You mean, no more direct deposit?

Lesson 3 from the land of the freelancer is this: no more direct deposit. no more checks show up in your online banking account magically.

I never fully understood it. The they-put-money-in/you-take-money-out thing better known as direct deposit. It's all so bloodless. So sanitized. You work hard, or sometimes you screw off, and either way every two weeks money is slipped invisibly, while you sleep, or maybe even when you're going to the bathroom, in your account.

No effort is involved here. It's magic. You don't have to look anyone in the eye when you get your check. You don't have to resent the 70 extra hours you worked when the sweet HR maven hands out the paychecks, or feel a nagging pang of guilt because you accomplished nothing and are getting the same check as last week.

Direct Deposit is like a parallel universe. You're busy doing other things while elves put some money in your account. Some of us never even knew quite how much. Somewhere around x. That's close enough for jazz. No walk to the bank or drive to the bank. Don't get your hands messy with looking at ink on paper, or standing in long lines. Just let us slip it in there while you're taking a leak and everyone's happy.

So turn around and I'm now accountable for my account. In other words, if no invisible checks go in, no invisible money appears. I now know this, since I just bounced my first COBRA check.

At the same time, I just received my first grand--a live check--for a freelance project I worked on some weeks back.

The bounce doesn't feel real, because it happened behind my back, just like direct deposit once did. This is more like direct withdrawl. Of the $30 fee anyway.

But the check that arrived in the mail, with my client's pretty logo at the top and my name typed it, that felt real.

Now, I match the two up, use real-world deposit to pay the invisible withdrawl, and I'm left with....

a receipt.

thank you for your transaction.

nimrod, nimrod, nimrod, nimrod.

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