Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Horrifying Aesthetic of Check Cashing Places

Check cashing businesses are not designed per se, yet they all have the same look. These scraped cavities of former retail business spaces usually just consist of a room with plexi interface at the back of a store. Gutted cavity is an apt description as they look more like botched butcherings than surgeries. The removal of most traces of the former business seems to be "good enough" but there are usually indications of the former occupant, like the Payless color scheme left on just one of the walls. I'm amazed at how often I see bare plywood left exposed, like some badge of authenticity for the check cashing industry.

They are never clean but because they are empty the feeling is more accurately described as unsanitary. The emptiness exaggerates the length of the room creating, in effect, an indoor dead-end alley you really don't care to enter. The lack of hospitality seems deliberate as if to say "you need us more than we need you'' and "be thankful that the cut we take isn't more".

Maybe they are designed, right down to the exposed plywood. Designed to induce a shame at having to execute a financial transaction in such a place. Designed to distract your mind from the cut they are taking and to get you to push your money, uncounted, deep in your pocket like someone who has made an illegal score and send you packing, out the door, as quickly as you came in.

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