Where are my keys?
There is only one teller at my credit union I hope to avoid. All of the others are cheerful, and mostly professional, although I’ve caught more than one trying to deposit money into the wrong account or making a payment to my Visa when I specifically handed over my mother’s payment coupon. This one teller sees red anywhere on her computer screen and goes into accusation mode: “Did you know your mortgage payment is overdue?” She’s done this to me twice, putting me on the defensive even though if she looked a little more carefully, she’d see I had pre-scheduled a payment on a given date within the grace period.
Recently, my deposits laid out in front of her, I saw her brow furrow and she begin the familiar, “Did you know.…” I felt my own hackles rise. Then she stopped and the furrow became quizzical. “Well, it looks like … um …” She was caught because she was still trying to figure out the issue in my account while speaking. Finally, “It looks like you owe ten cents on the Dodge Dart.”
“Ten cents,” I smiled, “Really?”
As it turned out, the automatic transfer number I had keyed in was twenty-nine rather than thirty-nine, ten cents short. It had taken the bank’s computers two weeks from the due date to notice the error and add a hefty late charge to my account.
“Can we pay it now?”
“We can,” she frowned, “and I’ll take the late charge off of your account. I mean, it’s ten cents, right?”
“Right.” I was on my way to teach a class and I must have stood there shifting my weight, obliging smile a bit frozen on my face as she worked and worked trying to figure out how to undo the late fee. Finally, “I’m so sorry. I can’t figure out how to make this work. You can go. I’ll take care of it.”
And she did—when I checked my account online late that night, the ten cents was paid and there were no fees in evidence.
As a rule, I don’t like online banking and my slip of the finger is precisely why. If I had written a check, I would have written the number twice, once in words, once in numbers. I might have been looking at a payment coupon with the amount printed in front of me. A discrepancy, if there was one, would have been caught by the person entering the payment into the bank’s system.
So I still do write checks for many of my bills, but I slide into online banking because I am often scrambling to pay on time, sometimes for lack of funds, others for lack of attention to due dates. It is both a convenience and a frustration of modern life.
Modern life is full of moving pieces. Most of us have more than one credit card, for example, and each card has a bonus system designed to incur loyalty. Try to figure out how to convert your points into miles or other goodies, then multiply by the number of cards you have. And this is a productive time sink to have—what happens when I can’t make a website work and need customer service help? Oh right. Push number 1 to wait for the next available customer service agent … your call is very important to us …
Often, like everyone, I get so far behind that the only time I can steam the studio floor before hosting a visiting instructor is ten p.m. the night before she arrives, or I end up editing against a deadline during the time I’m scheduled to be writing. Sometimes I have the various moving pieces well-enough organized such that when Fourteen reminds me that he needs two-dozen chocolate dipped strawberries for biology the next day, I can slip into mommy mode and help him with his extra credit homework. I feel lucky then. In rare moments things are clicking along so well that should I make a mistake and leave the sugar out of the birthday bundt cake I started at nine a.m., I can meet my obligation to teach, stop at Target to purchase more chocolate chips and pumpkin, and get home in time to remix and bake the cake before the afternoon birthday tea party. It’s moments like these when the moving pieces of modern life become the moving parts—parts connected to a whole. It’s not always pretty or tidy, nor does it generally tie up in a neat package with a bow, but it feels good and moves me forward at a manageable pace.
And in the next breath, I misplace my keys …
It’s a full eclipse of the full moon tonight, and Mars is a mere 57 million miles from earth. Even as the planets shift and cast shadows, they are many of the sparkling, moving parts that comprise the whole. I’m so glad we’re along for the ride. Namaste & love, Rxo