Why pay bills on time?

3 Mar

I’ll tell you why. Because otherwise your little girl comes home from school and you can’t make the lights work.

“Momma, the light is burned out in the bathroom. And my room. And the kitchen.”

God bless her. No one else’s lights in the neighborhood seem to be out, so I start thinking worst case scenario: It’s not an outage, and I must face city hall.

So I call the city. Voice mail. (Yes, apparently it’s such a small town that there is ONLY ONE PERSON running the emergency-holy-shit-my-electric-is-off-this-hasn’t-happened-to-me-since-college hotline). I leave a message. It’s 3:55 p.m. I clearly have 65 minutes before we’re pulling an Abe Lincoln study session tonight and cooking food over a goddamn candle.

Vivian is supposed to be at tutoring at 4:3o, so I throw all of us into the car — yes, including Baxter — and race to city hall. The two of them wait in the car, further classing up my parenting. Not only do I get my utilities shut off, I use a 30-pound mutt to babysit my child. A meth lab is clearly in my basement’s future.

Welcome to the City of Stillwater, where our main clientele is college students so we stay behind an immense glass wall to protect us from their scabies. Yes, you’ve been cut off. It’s because of nonpayment. Yes, we sent out three different notices. Yes, there’s a reconnection fee. It’s $65. Oh, and you’ll need to also pay another $100 deposit to get it turned back on. Yes, you might have time to go check your bank statement because you’re POSITIVE you paid this bill a month ago. Yes, the electric can still get turned back on if you prove this before 5. Yes, Satan took my heart years ago and replaced it with a maleable lump of tar shaped somewhat like a heart.

So I race to the O’Colly, pull up my bank statement, and no money has gone to the City of Stillwater (home of the Tar-Hearted Municipal Clerks) since January. JANUARY. It’s March 1. Cursing ensues before I get back into the car, race Vivian to tutoring and haul ass back to city hall with my checkbook.

I think about all the righteously indignant people who’ve come before me, who claim they never got a bill or the check got lost in the mail, who probably holler and carry on at the Tar-Hearted Girl (whose defect is now starting to seem more like a self-defense mechanism) and so I vow not to be one of those people.

Instead, I just walk up to the window and look the girl in the eyes and say, “You’re right. I haven’t paid a bill since January. I’d like to get current, please.”

And then she asks for my address and I start weeping.

“Nine … (snff) … nineteen (ugh) .. ten (ssss-sss) West … U (huh uh huh) University (snfff sss huh).”

She informs me that to get current, pay the deposit and the reconnect fee, I will owe her slightly less than the GNP of Uruguay. Luckily, because I’m so financially well-off, as I’ve previously discussed, I was able to simply write her a check, my tears blurring my vision as any hope of ever buying a new pair of shoes evaporated. (That reminds me, I need to see how I get on the list for a pair of TOMS.)

Now, just to set the record straight, I DID pay my bill. I have the statement that I got in the mail (and even the two subsequent notices I threw in my stack of bills thinking, “Oh, I can disregard this because I HAVE paid my bill!”) and even the confirmation number I wrote down when I paid bills through my bank. What I didn’t do, however, was double-check to see that the money I thought I paid the city actually came out of my bank account.

So now I’m going to try to figure out how I’m going to convince the Bank of Oklahoma that they owe me a $65 reconnection fee. My guess is that they’re going to say something along the lines of “Ha ha ha, WE DON’T.”

That said, the Tar-Hearted Woman must have somehow been moved, because she waived the extra $100 deposit I was supposed to pay. God bless her. By the time I got home, the lights were on and no one knew any better about my wild irresponsibility.

Until now. So don’t tell, K?



4 Responses to “Why pay bills on time?”

  1. JC March 3, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    “A meth lab is clearly in my basement’s future.” Laughed a lot at that.

    I’m repeatedly impressed that you post these honest stories, and instead of hiding your emotions, you let your voice and personality shine through. I think that says a lot about you.

    • Julie Clanton March 4, 2011 at 3:16 am #

      I totally agree on both counts JC. I loved that line, and am also impressed at the honesty. Also, it is really, really great writing!

  2. garishchicken March 8, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Not trying to one-up you, but the same thing happened to me on March 2. I told everyone at work how I was NOT Charlie Sheen and definitely not winning. And I didn’t get mine back on… I had my Abe Lincoln night.

  3. Patti March 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    Three things I love about this post: the meth lab comment, that your dog is with your 11 year daughter who is clearly mature enough to tutor but her dog needs to babysit her, and the Google ad at the bottom declaring, “Want to lower your electric bill? Switch to Pennywise today!”

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