Monday, November 19, 2007

Feelings of dispair and satisfaction in the week of Thanksgiving.

My salary is deposited directly into my checking account every other Sunday. That means that if I am off on that Monday we are down in Bellingham doing our shopping for food and household needs. This morning we got up early in order to avoid the long line at the border. My wife asked me what the amount of my pay was so I got online and accessed my pay statement. A momentary thought to call the bank's automated teller and check the overall balance was dismissed by me as an unnecesary delay.

So off we go on a cold gray morning. We only have to wait at the border for about 15 minutes and are cruising down I-5. Just miles short of Bellingham is the town of Ferndale and breakfast at Denny's.

After that we're in Target doing the household goods shopping. Plus we buy some clothes for the grandkids and I'm particularly interested in getting some shoes for the baby because she's walking now and i worry about her slipping on the tile floor with the soft soled shoes she has now. So we have everything and we pile it all on the counter at the checkout lane. Debit card swiped and pin number entered.

Not accepted.

Try again.

Not accepted.

The cashier nonchalantly mentions the nearby ATM. I am anything BUT nonchalant inside. I check the balance of my account to see that my paycheck has not gone in to my account.

Now I make good money. In fact for my education I make very good money. I have bills. I support family. But now I feel embarrassed. I feel shame for having gone up to the checkout with a cartload of items that I now, cannot pay for. I feel terrible inside because I cannot provide my granddaughter with shoes. I feel terrible because two Christmas presents for my grandson must now go back to the shelves. It's like things are out of reach. Yes, this is a temporary situation but there is only what I feel right now

So we leave Target and decide to go to the grocery store. We have enough to get the groceries we need. If we spend $100 on groceries where we shop we get our Thanksgiving turkey for free. We have that much and more. So we shop for groceries after I drain our account at the ATM and cash in a $2 winning lottery ticket. We get our groceries, and our turkey and we're about to walk out the store. We've decided that we'll go home and drive back down the next day. I know that we're going to hit a long line at the border but what can we do? I turn to my wife,

"You wait, we'll get home and call the bank and the gal will tell us that our money has been deposited in our account".

My wife gave me a look that illustrated our emotion. That it was too little too late and more effort that should have been needed had to be used. The same voice that told me to check the balance before we left the house told me something. I laughed, and it confused my wife. Then I reached in my wallet and pulled out my ATM card and stuck it in the nearby ATM machine. I pressed the button to check the balance. It had been one hour since we left Target. I pulled the receipt, looked at it, and laughed. My pay was in the account.

Relief was the word of the moment. As we walked out the door we saw the Salvation Army kettle and the man ringing the bell. I pulled money out of my pocket and stuffed it in the kettle.

Back to Target. The toy, the shoes, some clothes for the little ones. In the cart, through the checkout, and into the car. Then on to Costco for more things. We had seen some things on sale at the grocery store and we had a short list of groceries for our local church missionaries. We got those items and the sale items and some other things. We always end or grocery shopping in the produce section. I looked at my wife.

"Let's get out of here before we qualify for another turkey." (meaning another $100 in groceries. 200+ is are normal amount when we shop after payday)

Over to the checkout. $115.00. I ask the lady at the checkout if we can get a second turkey. "Of course!" she answers. I run over to the freezer holding the frozen turkeys and grab a 20 pound bird. Out the door we the man ringing the bell. He gives me directions to the Salvation Army Chapel. We drive over and drop off the turkey.

I passed through momentary despair to end up with two Thanksgiving turkeys. One will feed me and my family and one will feed another man and his family.

Now one turkey is not a great thing when you consider the amount of people who the Salvation Army will feed this Thursday. But the feeling of one man, who for a moment felt what many fathers less fortunate feel, will make that man feel that much more blessed as he sits down to eat with his family this year.

now i want to give you and your wife a big kiss. you are so nice, so good.
well, at least me anyway. ;)
Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your family!!
It's funny how a debit card failure inspires sweat in all of us - even when it's no fault of your own, we feel indaquate, even when we know the money is actually there.
But to go through that and still feel charitable - what a good guy you are!
Happy holiday to you and yours.
Woo hoo for good books!
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