At the beginning of July, I received my first royalty check from my first novel. Four days ago, the check was on its way to the shredder. This is the story of how my wife and I got it back.
After completing my first novel, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of myself for finishing such an undertaking. I’d also be lying if I said that I didn’t care at all if it made any money. I put hundreds of hours into the thing, of course I’d like to see at least a little something out of it.
My first check from my first book arrived in the mail in early August. The envelope was as plain as any other piece of junk mail, but like other mailed checks, it had that unmistakeable check pattern vieable through the envelope window. I knew to the penny what the check was for – $151.77 – but it was worth far more than that. If I decided to pursue a career in writing, this would be the check that I could point to and say, “Yep, that’s the first check I made as a professional writer. Humble, but it was a start.”
To preserve the check, I downloaded Chase’s app to my phone so I could take a picture of the check. The last thing I wanted was to take it to the bank and have them stamp things all over it (do they even do that with checks anymore?) Anyway, I took pictures of the check and it successfully deposited into my account. Ahh…I had the money and the check for safe-keeping. All was good.
I put the check on my desk, and like the procrastinator that I am, left it there instead of framing it immediately.
Fast forward three weeks. I came home from work, exhausted after having a tough day, and my wife told me that she made a run to the bank and cashed the expense check I had laying around. I didn’t think about it at first, as I receive expense checks from work every-so-often. I went to my desk upstairs and saw that my Amazon check was missing. Cue panic.
I ran downstairs. “Was the check you cashed the one on my desk?”
“That was my Amazon check.” My whole body shook; not with anger, but with shock. I picked up my phone, as if to dial Chase, but I didn’t know what to do or what number to dial. My head spun. My wife said, “My God, I’m so sorry. I will fix this. I will do anything I can to fix this. Please, just breathe. I’ll contact the bank tomorrow.”
I regained my composure. There was nothing that I could do. Worrying did nothing to help things and only made Helen feel worse. Taking deep breaths, I calmed down as best I could. The check was gone, but at least I had a picture of it. That was the tiny silver lining I clung to.
The next day, Helen called our local Chase branch as soon as they opened. She explained to their branch manager, Marcos, what had happened. He told her that he wasn’t sure what was possible, as the ATMs are emptied each night, but that he would make some calls to see if he could locate the check.
At that point, Marcos could have hung up the phone and gone back to his day before calling my wife back in a few hours and said, “Sorry, we couldn’t find it.”
Instead, he called back and told Helen that he called four different people, and they all told him there was no way to get the check back and it was probably already destroyed. Helen’s heart sank.
However, Marcos chose to not take “no” for an answer. He went above and beyond what we would expect of a bank – nevertheless one as big as Chase. Marcos knew that the checks had to be imaged before they were shredded. So, he went on Chase’s directory to see if he could locate a number for the facility where this happens. He got on the phone with the facility manager, who even before Macros told the story of my first book, told him to hold on so he could go locate the person who had the bag from the Southport location (as if he had waited a few minutes, it could be too late). The manager got back on the phone, and said he found the check and now he could hear Marcos tell the story.
After receiving the check back in the inter-office mail, Marcos called Helen down to the branch to pick it up. When Helen arrived, she saw that he had put it in a plastic frame so she wouldn’t mistakenly deposit it again.
Marcos and the rest of the Chase crew didn’t have to do what they did. My check could have been the least of their worries, but at the end of the day, they went well out of there way to save something that is very sentimental to me. The value they provided to me on that day is immeasurable, and I am forever indebted to Marcos for stepping in to save the day.