09 October 2018

The Ride Is Good. Just Make Sure The Check Is!

I'm going to level with you about something:  I bounced a check, once--though not on purpose.

It was summer, and I was a poor student.  It was in the days before ATMs were widespread:  The bank I used--the one nearest the campus--didn't have them yet.  And, to my knowledge, direct deposit didn't exist.

I'd received my paycheck and deposited near the end of the day.  In those days, "hold" times for deposits were usually a bit longer than they are today. I miscalculated how long the check would take to clear (I think I counted days instead of "business days".)   I'd had a couple of outstanding checks (For all of you young readers:  There was no PayPal or any other way to pay electronically!), probably for my rent and school-related things. 

If the available funds were insufficient, the bank would "bounce" the check with the smallest amount.  In my case, it was for the princely sum of $4.00.

I ran to the bank, full of contrition.  The bank officer, I think, took pity on me:  She probably met other student/customers like me.  She reversed the fees.

Then I had to contact the recipient of that check:  an organization, some of whose members I knew.  In fact, I was even friendly with a few of them because--you guessed it--we rode (and, sometimes, drank beer) together.

I'm talking about the local chapter of the Century Road Club, who organized the Princeton Century.  That check was for the ride's registration fee.  I explained the situation to Susan, the club's treasurer.  Of course, she didn't think I was trying to scam the club and I gave her cash, which she refused.  I still got my ride patch!

I must say, though, that I still feel a bit embarrassed when I think of that bounced check, as understanding as Susan and that bank officer were.  After all, who bounces checks for $4.00--and for a bike ride?

(At least I didn't become an accountant!)

Image result for bounced check image

What got me to reminiscing about that story?  A story about another bounced check involving a bike ride.  This time, though, the issuers of the check were the organizers of a ride--and, apparently, they bounced others related to that ride.

Jill Jurca discovered one of those bounced checks when she was balancing the books of the Delta High School Band Parents.  Through the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, she'd heard that the 24th annual Tour of Colorado, held from 24 to 30 June, was passing through town.  The organizers were looking for local groups to provide meals  for the ride's 1500 cyclists.

One thing I know about school bands:  They need every dollar they can get, so they look at every possible way to raise funds.  This one looked really good to Jurca:  The Tour paid $1800, and the band provided a hearty breakfast for the cyclists, who pedaled through four mountain passes in a loop that covered about 700 kilometers (425 miles).

The Chamber of Commerce, from whom Jurca learned of the Tour's impending arrival, also got a rubber check--for $1320.  So did the Kiwanis Club of Delta County, which got stuck for $1365. Those organizations worked with other local groups to provide lodging, meals and entertainment (including a beer garden).  In addition to money, it took months of preparation to provide those services to riders.

A Denver Post reporter tried to reach the tour organizers, to no avail.  It seems that most of the information on the Tour's website--where, in previous years, registration for the next year's ride would begin as soon as that year's ride ended--has been wiped away.  All Jurca has is a statement, which she forwarded to the Post, saying that some of the Tour's sponsors didn't come through with money they were promised, so Tour organizers don't now--and aren't sure when--they will have the funds to make good on those checks.

Susan and that bank officer weren't upset with me. But Jill Jurca is with the Tour--and I can't say I blame her. "You're dealing with kids and band students and that's not OK to do this," she says.

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