Friday, July 18, 2008

Some Things Never Change

Here I sit, home alone (except for my pets) wondering when I'm going to start enjoying this little bit of time I have while my spouse is attending an out-of-state wedding. I'd envisioned a few days of relaxation, doing what I want, skipping the cooking and cleaning, and generally having a good time. So far it's been a real blast.....right.
Yesterday, I had a dental appointment and more work done. This has become a bad habit! There are reasons some of us put off going to the dentist. For me, there can't just be one area that needs work - it's always an ongoing thing for a few months. The dentist assured me there is nothing I've been doing wrong, it's just that I'm apparently prone to problems. (Spouse thinks the dentist wants a new car or something.) My mouth was numb from 8:30 am until 9pm. That was fun.
After the dentist visit, I stopped at a department store close to the dental office and returned a gift I'd purchased a couple weeks ago, but then didn't need. While at the store, I found a couple of household items on clearance that I knew we could use. A kind customer told me if I'd wait until "tomorrow" to make purchases, I could use a discount coupon and receive an extra 20% off everything that was already on clearance. She suggested the coupon had been printed in the newspaper. That seemed like a good thing and worth an extra trip. What she didn't tell me, but what I learned after searching through a week's worth of newspapers, was the 20% coupon was for "preferred" customers and had only been sent through the mail. Apparently, I'm not a preferred customer at that store. I suppose I didn't need those items anyway.
After finishing my store transaction, I came home to write out checks and pay bills. That's always a joy, especially when the checkbook doesn't balance with what the bank says I have in the account. I spent hours adding and subtracting the entries, trying to figure out what errors I'd made. Even though I'd like to think the bank is wrong, the fault is almost always mine. I didn't find any major math mistakes, but what I did find shocked me. A large check I'd written for property taxes had not gone through the bank. Taxes weren't due until this month, but since I knew they had to be paid anyway, I'd written the check last month so I wouldn't forget to pay them. So why hadn't the check cleared the bank? I looked over every recent bank statement, but found no evidence of the tax check having been cashed. I had the duplicate check in my hand, so I KNEW I'd sent it. I decided I'd need to call the state treasurer's office the next morning and get to the bottom of the problem. So . . . .
This morning, even though I wanted to do other things - fun things - I worked on the bank statement again and finally called the state treasurer's office. I was told there was no record of my check ever reaching their office, but that if I'd "walk the check in" today, they would forego any penalty. What penalty? I'd sent the check a month ago, so there had better not be a penalty! I went to the Administration Building downtown - not my tiny little downtown, just 5 minutes away - no, downtown in the big city over 30 minutes and numerous traffic jams away. I hate driving in "big" downtown and wasting all that gas, but I hate the thought of a 10% tax penalty even more, so I went, and I wrote out a tax check - again. I made a couple other stops to do some errands while I was out and was relieved to have that done. My thoughts turned to what kinds of fun things I might do when I arrived home. Those thoughts turned to disgust and frustration when I came in to find a leaking water heater, an inch of water standing on the utility room floor, and a washer full of wet laundry I'd forgotten to put into the dryer. What fun I'm having while Spouse is away!
As if that wasn't enough, guess what I found after I'd made a fool of myself on the phone and navigated through the closed parking garages and one-way streets in the big city downtown? Wedged under a stack of old bank statements in the bill-paying cubicle of our roll top desk was an envelope addressed to the State Treasurer, with stamp attached, ready to be mailed. I could not believe it. I was mortified when I learned I had not mailed the envelope, but I was also relieved to know that I had indeed written the check. I had begun to think I'd really gone 'round the bend. But there was little consolation. I had looked through that stack of letters and bills twice without finding the envelope. I'd also been ready to swear an oath in a court of law and profess that I had mailed the check and I then would have been very happy to accuse the post office of losing it. I think I now have to admit to myself that I'm the one who has "lost it".
I also spent a fair amount of time this week looking for the government incentive check we'd received and which I'd deposited. Our bank had sent it back to us but I hadn't seen fit to deal with it promptly. Initially, I deposited the check into my own account, with my spouse's encouragement, and intended to use it to pay some of my dental bills. In fact, I had been writing checks to the dentist from that account until I was informed by a bank representative that I could not use the funds from that check because my spouse's name was not on my checking account. What? Apparently it didn't matter that he and I had each signed the check or that the check had BOTH our names on it. The bank sent back the check and in my haste to clean house in preparation for company, I had misplaced it and completely forgotten about it until last night, when the checkbook didn't match the bank statement. Sometimes I can't believe all the stupid things I do. I found the check among some other mail I'd cleared off the kitchen counter before company arrived.
On a lighter note, one of the highlights in my day was the phone conversation I had with my mother. She related a story about making a phone call to have the efficiency of her pacemaker checked. She's had the pacemaker for many years and has had it checked via her phone for all those years. But today, she and the person on the other end of the phone did not communicate very well with each other. Mom could not seem to follow the directions given to her and not only kept putting the receiver down beside the phone instead of ON the phone, she admittted she had been holding the phone to her "bad ear" and had been barely able to understand any of the directions she'd been given. I asked why she hadn't held the receiver to her "good ear" and she replied she didn't know. Numerous times, she said the receptionist "got hefty with me", and I assumed she meant the woman had become huffy with her over the phone. Mom had been asked to put the receiver down (onto the phone itself) but when she would put it down beside the phone, she'd hear the woman talking, so she'd picked up the reciever only to be given instructions in a "hefty" tone again. She said she was on the phone for over 30 minutes and the woman to whom she was talking became more frustrated by the minute. Mom concluded her story by saying "...this is why I hate calling in my pacemaker information". Well, I am fairly sure the people who try to help her over the phone aren't too thrilled either.
Mom's story sounded like it might have been borrowed from an episode of "I Love Lucy". I was in stitches laughing at the whole situation, and it was good that Mom was laughing too. Had she not been laughing, it would have seemed very sad. Mom has dementia but thank goodness she hasn't lost her sense of humor. I began to wonder if dementia is contagious . . . .

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