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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Maybe I Should Just Stuff it in the Mattress

I did not find the merry month of May so very. Although our business soared in March and April, May was tepid. Lukewarm. I needed a few more 11,000 square foot church jobs to drop into my lap unbidden. The wind screamed on maddeningly, making me feel low much of the time. My blog birthday would come up at the end of the month and I thought that would set me writing at a quick pace, but May was my least prolific month since I started the blog. I wasn't reading other blogs with the same degree of frequency, nor commenting as much. I dealt with two major stressors during the month, car fears and money fears. I spent a long time trying to land on why I blog, what I expect to get from it, what I do get from it, and whether I want to continue with it. I'd endured a little angst, a little disillusionment, and I needed to rethink exactly what it was about for me. I found my answers.

My understanding of the intricacies of money management has been, mostly, elementary. I learned young that one wanted to earn a lot of it, save a lot of it, spend a lot of it. But I never learned a "plan". Money just "was". One didn't guide money. Until one became divorced and on her own at age 50. Then one learned to build the budget and handle the spreadsheets and of whom to ask the hard questions and which publications to study. Mother Badger has taught me much about money, as has David and I've gained a wealth (great word!) of knowledge from building and sticking to the budget for our company. I'm pretty savvy in my old age!

On the first Sunday of 2009, I drove through Wells Fargo Bank's stand of ATMs and juggled all my cards, seeking to handle my finances the way that I do. My pension is directly deposited to my Sun West Bank account. I do quite a bit of transferring between the two banks and I juggle several different accounts for my personal use and that of my tiny consulting business. Once a month, I go online to make certain the pension was properly deposited at Sun West. No, I don't have to look 16 times. I look once. The reader may believe, I know where my money is parked and I know just exactly how much of it there is.

I was on my way to see Christine for my haircut and color. She prefers cash payment, so I attempted to withdraw $140 from the Sun West account. "Insufficient funds". What? I knew how much money was in that account and it far exceeded $140. I did a balance inquiry that revealed I had the princely sum of $4.20 available. I didn't like it at all. None of my bank accounts ever sinks into single digits. I knew what should have been in the account and I was a bit concerned, but I knew that sometimes information doesn't translate well between banks and I needed to keep my appointment with Christine. I pulled the $140 from my Wells Fargo account and continued with my day.

Arriving at work the next morning, the first Monday in January, 2009, I sent the technicians out on their routes, but was very eager to go online to see what was happening with my account at Sun West. To my shock, there had been a series of large cash withdrawals from my account between Friday night and Sunday morning! I'd been cleaned out. Yes, it was close in proximity to New Year's, but I'd done no partying, and I felt certain no videotape of me with a lampshade on my head at the ATM could be produced. When startled/shocked, I tend to look over my shoulder to see if any Candid Camera camcorders are aimed at me. Is this a joke? It wasn't. I printed the list of transactions and ran into David's office. "Get your coat and purse! Be at the bank's door at 9:00 when they open.", he advised. I did that. I was the first customer through the door that day. I signed affadavits and sworn statements, and they reassured me I'd suffer no loss until the investigation was completed. It took very little time ~ maybe 15 days. I'd been defrauded in some way that was never explained to me. I never lost a penny. That bank took care of me and my dollars.

On Saturday, May 29th, I went online to verify my pension had been deposited to Sun West. I've banked there for 6 years, so their splash page is very familiar to me. Hey! What the heezy? "Where are the pictures of so many of the actual employees I recognize? Where is the picture of my branch in the building that has been there since the 1970s?", thought I. For here is what I saw on the screen:

On Friday, May 28, 2010, Sun West Bank, Las Vegas, NV was closed by the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, Financial Institutions Division. Subsequently, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named Receiver. No advance notice is given to the public when a financial institution is closed.

All deposit accounts, excluding certain brokered deposits, have been transferred to City National Bank, Los Angeles, CA. For more information on City National Bank, visit us at www.cnb.com.

The FDIC has assembled useful information regarding your relationship with Sun West Bank. Besides a checking account, you may have Certificates of Deposit, a business checking account, a Social Security direct deposit, and other relationships with the institution.

Please select the link below to read more about this event:

FDIC Bank Closing Information for Sun West Bank

Online service will remain available.

Continue to Sun West Bank's Online Banking Login:
• Personal
• Business

??!!**## ??!!**## What the ??? I reared back in my chair and looked over my shoulder for the Candid Camera that was not there. Yes, I did see the acronym FDIC on the first reading, so I felt somewhat certain the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was involved, but one wants to feel damned secure in these situations. With my heart in my mouth, I attempted to gain access to my accounts, using my login and password information. I was successful, and everything seemed as it should be in each account. But that was not good enough. I was alone in the office, so I radioed David who was in another county at a race. "Sir, are you actively racing right this moment?" "No, just setting up. What's up?" I read it to him without ever letting up on the talk button. He heard all of it before he could get one word in edgewise. One can't chirp while being chirped. "What do you think, David?" He said his temperature had begun to rise when I began to read, but he also took some solace in the fact that the passwords worked and the FDIC was involved. "But find out for sure on Monday!" No kidding!

I sent e-mails to my personal financial advisor, Mother Badger, and to the Badger himself. "Um, how badly would this disturb you on a Saturday afternoon of a 3-day weekend?" The e-mails fairly flew for awhile, and the consensus opinion was that I was probably OK. I am. David saw it on the news on Sunday night. By Monday morning, City National Bank had a welcome page on the website to reassure Sun West customers and those of other failed banks they've recently taken on. Yow. We're advised to continue using the checks and bank cards from Sun West until further notice, and the existing employees have been retained. The only visible difference to the customers will be the new sign on the building. Relief? No. I'm transferring everything to Wells Fargo. I believe I mentioned in my last post that if a car fails me, I want nothing to do with that car again. It pales in comparison with what happens to me internally when my bank fails.

At work, we slithered out of May on our bellies like a snake, but - to my surprise - when I crunched the numbers, I learned we actually turned a small profit. For reasons I should no longer try to divine, for it will surely make me ill someday, the phones began to scream on June 1. Why that specific day? What were the conditions? Was Jupiter aligned with Mars? Stop it, Leslie! I've booked more jobs in three days than I booked in some weeks in the heart of darkness after the economy slid. We fired a technician we love who had returned on a 90-day trial basis after we fired him at the holidays. He won't get a third chance with us. David started his two high schoolers at work today - their first jobs, with the world in front of them to be enjoyed. Today I ran more vans than I have on one day in months. Some men were running solo, which means they were earning at their highest level of income. We like that.

Matt radioed in after his first job, just like he is supposed to do. "I've experienced a first, Leslie." I asked what had happened and he told me he killed a customer's pet. ??!!**##??!!**## What could have happened? Did he run over a dog or squash a cat in the driveway? Suck a bird up the wand while he was dry-stroking? "Matt, what??" He arrived at the customer's home to find mother and child crying hysterically. In the house was a large adhesive rodent trap and the child's hamster had become stuck in it. The customer had tried to remove the hamster, but he was good and truly stuck and was clearly in distress. The woman asked Matt to kill the suffering animal - to put it out of its very apparent misery. Matt is a big, gruff, tough very emotional and sensitive human being. "Oh, lady, no. Oh, no, no. I can't do that. I love animals. No, no m'am." She begged him, explaining that her husband could not come home for hours and she had no one else to ask. Her small son was becoming more distressed by the minute. Matt took the animal out to the van and attempted to dislodge the hamster using various tools and even some safe cleaning solutions to try to break the adhesive bond. He attempted to loosen the animal by cutting its fur without causing further harm. Nothing worked, and the animal was now in trauma. Matt killed it, out of sight of the mother and the boy. I have seen Matt in deep distress. His ears would have been bright red and his eyes full of tears. No, not crying like a little girl. Just showing obvious signs of pain while he did the right thing. He performed a sterling carpet repair and told the little boy his pet was in a better place now. Then this 23-year-old got in his mighty war wagon and continued to his next job where he was treated badly and thrown out on his ear. So go our days.

In my ears right now: My favorite of Gillian Welch's work, April the 14th (Part I).

Something that charmed me: In huddle, we talked about what Matt encountered, how humane he had been to the animal and how he overcame his own misgivings to assist a mother and child. It took only seconds for him to be dubbed the Hamster Hit Man, but that was done in a pat-on-the-back manner rather than hilarity about a pet that died. The assembled homes began to talk about the various ways each of them would have euthanized the hamster once he made the assessment it could not be released from the trap. I scanned their faces, looking for any traces of inappropriate amusement. There was none. They were serious about thinking how they'd handle a distasteful situation with the least distress to anyone involved. I'd be pleased to have any one of them on my tea, if I were in bad circumstances.


  1. Hey there, I've been missing you, in fact i just had checked to see if I had missed any new posts by you just less than an hour ago. It seems I've gone missing for a bit myself with repainting my house with my son and numerous round trips to the big town.

    That bank stuff would have put me in a panic sweat for sure.
    Mercy killing a hamster, now that's some tough stuff!

    I hope things calm down for you soon.
    xoxo Kim

  2. @ Numinosity Beads ~ Hi, Kim! I've just come home from a whirlwind 4 days in Arizona at Mother Badger's. We peeked at blogs, especially because the Badger was away at an important cycling race, but I didn't take away any of our intended time together writing for my own. This piece was actually in the can, but I've posted it now so I can work on telling about my trip and posting the photos I took.

    By the way, I purposely took your creations down to show Mother Badger and she was impressed, as I knew she would be.

    Poor Matt! He's so huge and so tender. I'm not sure I'm as good as he is. I'm not sure I could have helped that mom and son in that way.

    I'm pleased to report my bank accounts are precisely as they should be and Lucy Sue ran like a top across a very isolated route. I feel very car-confident these days!

    Thanks for seeking me out! Tonight after my l-o-n-g massage, I'll catch up on my blog reading.

  3. The bank account stuff makes me light-headed. It's interesting to note just how deeply we can become rattled by our finances.

    The hamster story reminds me of how many rats and mice I have murdered at my cabin in this terribly inhumane way. The smell of their droppings and the scritch scratch sounds they make in the walls portend 'war' and the employment of a mighty arsenal, but in retrospect I feel bad.

    That seemed like a pretty quick trip with Mother Badger. Hope you came back feeling refreshed. You didn't mention what you finally decided about your future blogging ambitions.

  4. This is why I do not do numbers - I will never be rich because if I had more than two accounts I would forget about one or more of them and then I would continue to be poor anyhow....what a sick making series of events.

    Well dear, money can't buy you love, so here's a big virtual hug! x

    My brother once humanely killed a hamster of mine - still makes me sick thinking about it.

    Onwards - next month will be better :)

  5. The banking crises ain't over yet.

    We had a terrible mouse problem in the house about nine years ago. Tried one of those traps that gets them alive, but could never get it to work properly. The mice ran in, grapped their food, and ran right back out. Finally, I had to resort to using an adhesive trap. They work pretty good, but God, I felt sorry for the mice.

  6. At first I feared it was Mattman who was fired. Very relieved that he is still on board and making his contributions. Watch out rodents of unusual size, Mattman is on the job.
    unfortunately your banking problems are becoming all too common as small banks fail and big banks fail with billions in bailout money. Glad your trip worked out well. We've missed you.

  7. @ Kass ~ Hey, Kassie! Yes, the money stuff stops me dead in my tracks. I don't particularly like money, but I work hard for it and it gets me the things I do like (food, shelter) and I finally learned it is not neverending. And, p.s., have I said this? If I lose all of mine, I have no one to ask for more.

    I support exterminating mice and rats, Kass. We can't live with those nasty things. Someday I need to write about when the possum got in the space between my mother's walls and died. Extraordinary steps were taken to prevent future possum infestation! I still have nightmares about it. But they're not as bad as the nightmares about the flies that appeared after the possum died, but his body hadn't yet been reached!

    I had 4 rollicking, frolicing days with Mother Badger, packed with fun and enjoyment from dawn until bedtime. [Oh, hell! I'm tetchy about spelling and I'm not certain about "rollicking" or "frolicing". :~( ] I came home not only refreshed, but enlightened and encouraged and reminded and restored and rejuvenated. Expect to read all about it!

    Future blogging ambitions? Write. Explore. Tell. Listen to responses. Write some more. Share. Ask. Request. Give. Love. Receive love.

  8. @ Rachel ~ Friend, believe me, I do not like numbers. They are so precise and I am so NOT precise. They are so SET and I am so flexible. However, I have learned to understand them, and that's a recent development for me. I'm glad to have that in my tool kit! June promises to be better than May, and so it goes. I will accept, with joy, any virtual or real, personal hug, as hugs are the BEST - a real transfer of positive human energy.

    I will take that virtual hug, because hugs NEVER go wrong.

    I'm also sickened by what Matt had to do, but I am proud of him for doing it. I am not likely as good a human being.

  9. @ Kirk ~ Oh, no, I am sure there are more banking messes to be exposed! I just hope no more of them affect me directly, as I have likely tolerated all the personal assault I can tolerate without losing my mind.

    And,god love you, Kirk! Who the hell am I . . . vs. a mouse?

  10. @ Tag ~ What a wonderful thing to say to someone! "We've missed you." Thank you for that.

    It pleases me to tell you that Matt is doing wonderfully well for us. He and Justin were both invited to return to us on a trial basis. Matt came back having made some serious changes in his approach to work. Justin did not, and never really joined us in the 6 weeks he stayed this time. He won't be invited back again. Matt will likely continue to shine.

  11. So glad to hear of your future blogging ambitions.

  12. @ Kass ~ I thank you, Girlfriend. I'm working now on the first installment of "What I Did on my Summer Vacation"!