As the millennium turns...
As we reach the end of the millennium, humankind will have achieved many great things. For example, more people will know how to spell millennium than at any time in human history. Of course, the spell-checker contained in most word-processing programs helps a lot.
The campaign to get more drivers to understand that the short, black stick protruding from the left sides of steering columns is a turn signal is making great progress. As this millennium comes to an end, there is even hope that drivers will begin to actually use their turn signals prior to the end of the next millennium.
But even more serious problems remain to be solved. For example, the problem of people who wait until the very last moment to start filling out their checks in the grocery-store line. Any person of good breeding knows to either use cash or a credit card or to at least fill in certain items on their checks in advance.
Instead of reading the headlines on all the scandal magazines about Bill and Hillary or the Ramseys or O.J. or Newt Gingrich, the thoughtful and gracious person pulls out his or her checkbook and fills out the date, the memo section and even signs it. Once the cashier determines the amount to be paid, all the check-writer has to do is fill in the amount and hand it to the cashier. Experts who do time and motion studies say this procedure would save untold person-hours, not to mention how much it would lower the blood pressures of those in line behind the check-writer.
Recently, this observer was in a grocery-store line to pay for a half-gallon of milk. By the way, it is a known fact that the fewer items you have to take through the grocery line the greater the chance there will be a check-writer in front of you. The person in front of me waited until the cashier had completely finished her work before she began to rummage around in her purse for her checkbook.
When she finally found her checkbook, she slowly placed it on the little writing stand provided by the grocery store and then began to look in her purse for a writing instrument. The cashier offered one of the storeís ballpoints; however, the lady refused saying she always wrote with her own pen.
Finally, she produced what can only be described as the closest thing to an ink quill I have ever seen. Holding the pen above her check, her eyes looked up into the Heavens as if she were expecting the Muse of Check-Writing to descend and touch her with the spark of inspiration.
When finally sufficiently inspired, she applied her pen to her check book and began (Iím not making this up) to write in Spencerian Script. Now, if youíve never seen a bank check (maybe cheque is more appropriate in this case) written in Spencerian Script, you have never, as I always say, seen a bank cheque written in Spencerian Script.
Her cheque was truly a work of art almost on a par with Michaelangeloís Cistine Chapel. I say almost on a par because the growing and increasingly unhappy crowd behind me thought Michaelangelo was quicker.
Not once did it enter this personís head that she was causing inconvenience to her fellow shoppers. But then thatís probably the way it is with artists. They just get so involved with their work that nothing else matters.
Now, any nation that can get millions of drivers to understand the purpose (if not the actual application) of that short, black stick that protrudes from the steering column, ought to be able to solve this problem. So here goes: we should have separate lines for those who pay cash, for those who use credit cards, for those who write checks and, of course, a special line for those who write checks using Spencerian Script.
William Hamilton is a syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today.