Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This isn’t just a rant. It’s a proclamation: I won’t be giving anything to charity this year.

I already gave at the office.

About midway through January, my car was broken into. Okay, "broken" might be too harsh of a word here as I suspect it was an unlocked back door (thanks kids) that allowed the thief entry. I didn’t have to repair anything on my car. Nothing was actually "broken".

Nope, there I was, walking out to the parking lot after another hard day in the office, when I noticed the glovebox open in my car. And papers pulled out. And my doors unlocked.

Oh, crap.

Sure enough, someone had rifled through my 1991 Toyota Camry. Which is in itself kind of puzzling. I mean, I drive a junker. It has rust spots and holes and everything. The paint is peeling off the roof. Oh, sure it has a new high performance engine in it, and new tires, but outwardly, it looks like a piece of crap.

What kind of a person is cruising the parking lot- which I might add is next to a Court House and Sheriff’s Office- and thinks, "Oh, I bet there’s good stuff to steal in that car!"

Anyone looking in my car is going to see the toddler booster seat in the bank, the blankets for the kids on the seats, the crappy, 1994 generic radio, the hole worn in my driver’s seat from the leatherman pouch worn daily on my belt, the crayons on the floorboard. Oh, wait, maybe it was my spare change.

I keep a lot of spare change in the car - dollars and dollars worth of pennies in the center console. All the drive-thru change I get goes there for my oldest daughter. She gets a thrill at cleaning the change out of the car. Except for January- since it was stolen before she could get to it.

Okay, even that is not entirely accurate. The lazy bastard/bitch that stole money from my car couldn’t be bothered with the $2 or $3 worth of pennies. Nope, they took maybe $4 or $5 of quarters, nickels, and dimes. Wow. What a haul. I hope they didn’t spend it all in one place.

Of course, that’s not all I’m out. No, it’s more complicated than that. See, the intruder also searched my glovebox, where I keep gas receipts and deposit tickets and slips. And maybe a spare checkbook. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not. So I had to go to my bank and get a new bank account number.

And that’s where the real trouble began.

First, there’s the time I had to spend going and getting a police report made. Then I had to go to the bank, with my wife, to open the new account, get new debit cards, order checks, etc.

Then there was the trouble of contacting the two autopayees I have, like my insurance company, and telling them I’m changing accounts. In particular, I had to tell them that my automatic monthly payments should still go through, rerouted by the bank, but if not, let me know and I’d fill out new EFT forms.

So two weeks pass, and the new checks come in. Wrong. Wrong name for me, and my wife’s name is omitted. That went over really well. A call to the check printer wastes a good half hour of time, as the little smart ass there tells me I have to go see my bank to get a name added. Then he tries to tell me where my bank is located.

"I know where my bank is," I responded. Smart Ass sneered over the phone (a skill he no doubt learned at the HP Customer Service Academy) and told me that he wasn’t saying I didn’t.

Fun stuff.

So it’s back to the bank on my lunch hour the next day to raise hell and order a second batch of new checks. With the right names on them.

February then rounded out with some excitement. Where in January my two automatic bill payments were deducted from the new account, in February the bank decided not to honor them. Without telling me. The first payee was kind enough to contact me about it, and I sent in new ACH forms. Not so my insurance company.

On March 4th I contacted the insurance company, in person, and told them that my payment didn’t come out the end of February as it was supposed to. I filled out a check, and the lady tells me that’s okay, she just needed the account numbers, she won’t cash the check.

Sure enough, the same day, a payment is withdrawn electronically and I’m current again on insurance.

Five days later, the insurance company cashes my check. Overdrafting my account. This requires a visit to the insurance office again.

So, let’s see… I’m up to $38 for an overdraft fee, $150 for a duplicate insurance payment, and about, oh, I don’t know, 8 hours of my time. All in all, I figure this works out to over $300 of loss for me. I know that’s not a whole lot, but it’s more than I normally give to charities.

I sure hope whoever broke into my car really needed that $6 worth of change they stole. Like they were starving to damn death. Realistically though, I imagine they used it to buy lottery scratch offs or a pack of smokes, or maybe some drugs (I could be wrong there, no idea what drugs cost these days). Heck, maybe they bought some colored markers and invested in an eye-catching "will work for food" sign. Obama wants everyone to reinvest in America, right?

Whatever the thief did, that’s my charity for the year. This’ll be the first time in my life that when someone approaches me for a handout or a raffle ticket to aid something, I can with complete and utter lack of guilt refuse and declare, "Sorry, I gave at the Office."

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