Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's Not the Rain, Sleet, or Snow You Have to Worry About

Well, it looks like my last self-absorbed writing exercise garnered a few opinions on the state of the U.S. Postal Service. Let me clarify that while I feel I am getting my money's worth from a forty-five-cent stamp, I do not put the mail carriers on a pedestal. I simply trust this delivery system more than an electronic one.

Through the years, I've had some issues with my mail. The first problem to rear its ugly head was my small-town postmaster taking liberties with my People magazine. Let's just say that when it has arrived in my post office box on Monday for six months, I notice when I don't get it until Tuesday. Especially when it has cookie crumbs chilling near the staples, in their own tiny grease spots.

"Oh, c'mon, Val," you might say. "Don't be so petty. No harm, no foul." But my second issue could have caused harm. While teaching and living in Cuba, Missouri, I took some classes toward my Master's degree. The classes were through Drury College in Springfield. Driving there was not feasible, so I took a couple of night classes at their Fort Leonard Wood campus. I mailed in my tuition check, as any reasonable person might do, with plenty of time to spare. Imagine my surprise when I received a letter from Drury saying they would have to cancel my credits if I did not pay the tuition. Of course those letters always arrive on a Friday afternoon, and you don't get around to opening them until Friday evening, and so you stew all weekend over your impending expulsion from your Master's program.

By Monday, I had worked myself into a snit. I burned up the phone line with my haughty accusation that the Drury registrar's office needed to take a refresher course on the difference between their butts and some random holes in the ground. Only to go all Emily Litella on them when they inquired as to whether I had the actual canceled check in my hand. Um. Never mind. I sent them another one. For all I know, my original check is mildewing in a dilapidated tool shed on the outskirts of Doolittle, having been stashed there by a carrier who could not deal with the concept that the mail never stops.

More recently, we've had an issue with missing mail at our rural bank of mailboxes down on the county road. I fear it is the fault of a local ne'er-do-well and not the rural carrier himself. I spent the first two weeks of one August fuming because my employer had not sent out the regular letter informing us of important back-to-school dates. Only to have my teaching buddy tell me that she had gotten her letter three weeks previously. Oh, and apparently the thief had also absconded with a phone bill and an electric bill. Which I found out when the next month's bills seemed twice as high. And I saw that I was delinquent. Funny how checks for the full amount rectified that problem forthwith.

Six months later, the issue cropped up again.  Hick had neck surgery to put a titanium plate on his vertebrae. Medical bills trickled in from various providers. I paid them as I got them. Until one showed up from the hospital that was marked thirty days past due. It was not a small bill. Over two grand. I was mortified. We always pay our bills on time. Well...unless they don't come in the mail. I don't go looking for them, or cross off a monthly checklist. Again, it came on a Friday. Another weekend stewing was in order.

I called the hospital to explain the situation. That we had never received the first bill, and that I wanted them to put a note in the file that the check was on its way. The lady was very polite. "Oh, don't worry about it. We can set up a payment plan for you." I told her that I didn't want a payment plan. I was sending the full amount. She said that if I wanted to use a credit card or debit card RIGHT THEN, she was authorized to cut the bill in half. IN HALF!!! You bet I used my debit card!

I later told Hick that I was embarrassed. They must have thought we could not pay. They assumed we were paupers, needing a reduction, a handout of sorts. Hick said, "I don't care what they think of me. THEY JUST CUT THAT BILL IN HALF!"

More on this concept tomorrow.


Sioux said...

And what was that woman's name? Monte Hall?

Stephen Hayes said...

I sympathize with your postal frustrations and have had similar rough moments thanks to the US Postal system, but I confess to feeling nostalgic about it and don"t want this service to go the way of the dodo.

Linda O'Connell said...

Books, letters, what's next?

HALF?! Dang, I think I'll pay late, then call and offer them half off :)

BECKY said...

Yet you don't want to pay your bills online....Hmmm....

Val said...

I don't think so. She didn't offer me a box, a curtain, or door number three.

I don't even want to lose my Saturday delivery! But they're plotting.

Well, I think it works better if you don't pay at all. THEN they offer you half off out of pity.

Merely being late makes them happy, because not only do they have your money in their hot little hands...they can also charge you MORE money for late fees. So don't pay, but call them up after the bill was due, and offer them some magic beans or a free-range chicken. Then say, "OR...I have enough money to pay you HALF right now."

No online bill-paying for me! A debit card over the phone is not online. It is classified as OTHER.

And nobody better ever take my picture, either. I hear the camera steals your soul.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

We have 7 meters for our electric needs. Don't ask me why this cannot be combined into one account. A 45 minute phone call to inquire left me with an ulcer and I still get 7 bills in the form of postcards ...... and NEVER all at once. It usually takes three days of mail to get them all togther to calculate the total bill, which I pay with one check ...... much to the dismay of the billing department. I have been chastised more than once for my practice of issuing one check for 7 bills. They would prefer, I have been told, a separate check for each meter. There have been times when we never receive all 7 bills within the month. Postcards being easy to fall out of the bundle of mail and later found in a ditch while mowing.
We used postcards to bill our customers in our business before we had a giant brain fart and bought a kampground. We had over 3000 subscribers to pager service and the postcards were more cost efficient (cheaper), so I understand the concept. We took that a step further and if you had more than one number in service, such as a company that paid for the employees to all have pagers, we combined the bill. It can be done!

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Wow, I was a little passionate on that subject!

Val said...

I can almost see you stamping your little foot!

You are living dangerously with that ONE check for seven accounts. We used to have three when we had a rental duplex. Now we're down to two. The barn is separate from the house. And I pay with TWO checks.

When I lived in Cuba, MO, I had a duel with the power company. It was some weird group, not a big name. I popped in on a Friday, during a July heat wave, to check on things. I was summering in Springfield while taking Master's classes. There was a tag on my door saying the power was being cut off that afternoon.

I hurried downtown to the office, waited in line for thirty minutes, informed the clerk that I had PAID my bill, and was told that I would have to present the canceled check.

So I went back home and sat in a hot house digging through financial records. Back to the office I went, clutching that canceled check in my hot, sweaty, little hand. Waited another thirty minutes in line.

"Oh. We must have missed that. I'll credit your account."

"What about my power?"

"It's too late now. We'll get it restored on Monday."