There’s a business on my walk to work that is a vestige of the old, pre-gentrified Lower East Side. The name of the business is Check Ca$hing.
Even though I’ve lived in the area for 11 years—or, perhaps, because I have—I share the transplanted LESider’s mixed reaction to the place, which is on the corner on Houston and Eldridge. I kind of like the grittiness it signifies of a once-rougher neighborhood, kind of loathe it because Check Ca$hing caters to a dodgy, hollow-eyed clientele.
And amid the artsy-indie Sunshine movie theater, pseudo-healthy Chickpea franchise and snooty-chic East Houston Hotel, Check Ca$hing looks like a zit on a fresh (albeit very made-up) face.One time I actually sought out its services. I’d gotten a reimbursement check from Time Warner Cable for $14.61 and was too lazy to foot it to the bank. But whent the clerk behind Check Ca$hing’s bulletproof glass asked me for I.D. so he could put my name “on file,” I decided to walk the extra three blocks to my bank.
This morning I do not have another penny-ante check to cash. But I do notice three sheets of paper Scotch-taped to Check Ca$hing’s transparent façade advertising a new service. A different word is laser-printed on a separate sheet like so:
I pause to make sure I’m reading correctly. I am.
I mosey past Yonah Schimmel’s, breathing in the freshly baking knishes, and ask myself a question: What the hell other types of services might Check Ca$hing offer?
ASSET MANAGEMENT Hand over your guns, knives and velvet paintings. My grandma’s garage in Woodlawn’s got plenty of room for them because she don’t drive no more.
RETIREMENT PLANNING Rubber-band all loose bills and stuff ’em into Yuban coffee cans. (Mattresses for blue-chip clients. But no coins, dumb-dumb. They rattle around and draw too much attention.) Bring the cans down to the basement and stack ’em behind the cockfighting ring.
BONDS Like bailbonds, right? Well, you need somebody caught, you talk to my uncle Carlos. He makes Dog the Bounty Hunter look like a pussy. And if you need somebody sprung from Riker’s—somebody like you—we’ll hook you up with some cash. We know Jews.
When I stop trying to amuse myself and finally reach the office, I check CNN.com. Yet another bank has laid off more than 1,000 employees. Damn. Just having taxes to pay suddenly seems less like a joke—and more like a luxury.
Duh, I realize, there’s a reason Check Ca$hing has stuck around.
–Tim Coleman covers the walk-to-work beat for Trainjotting.