Well, I had a hell of a day. It started off normally enough, though it was raining, which is increasingly rare around here. I dropped Elizabeth off at school on my way to work, and from there my day took a wrong turn.
I took side streets the rest of the way to work instead of the main Old Hickory Blvd route. The side streets are just faster, usually. On Nolensville Road across from a new-ish development combining houses, condos and businesses, Lenox Village, there's this no-name gas station that just happened to have gas for a relatively cheap $2.33 per gallon. I pulled in. I went to use the debit card and it was denied. Crap. This happened Wednesday night at OfficeDepot, too.
The problem was that our main checking account had gotten overdrawn because of the automatic mortgage payment going through. Overdraft protection covered the mortgage payment and several others that hit on that same day, but there was suddenly a negative balance on the account. I transferred money from other accounts as soon as I discovered it and there was a positive balance again. Anyway, I aborted my attempt to buy gas, and continued on my way to work.
I was admiring the beauty of the changing and falling leaves in the gently falling rain, trying not to let it bother me that the girl in the car behind me was following too closely. I just hate that. At least there was no one in front of me as I came down a hill on a small road that dumps out into a more heavily-travelled but still small road. Edmondson Pike south of Old Hickory, for those of you familiar. When I touched the brakes in preparation to stop, the brakes locked up.
I'm thinking, "Shit!" So, I let off the brake for a second, then touched them again. Not hard at all, just the normal gradual pressure. They locked up again and I started sliding on the rain-slick road. That idiot girl behind me is still following too closely, and I'm now getting flashbacks of my accident last February on an icy road where I rear-ended some poor innocent girl who wasn't following anyone too closely. No one was hurt in that accident, by the way.
Anyway, I'm now cursing loudly as the stop sign gets closer and closer. I'm alternating between pressing the brake and letting off, with no luck either way, now convinced that I'm going to cream someone with my Pathfinder SUV as I fly across the road into the church lawn on the other side at the bottom of the hill.
Now just a few feet from the stop sign, I look to my left to see who I'm about to kill. I'm just curious. I can't see anything to the right, really. Coming from the left is a dark grey SUV of some sort. At least it's a man driving alone. I'd hate to kill a young woman or a car full of kids. I had reached the stop sign now and had to do something besides screaming "f***k" at the top of my lungs. Luckily, there was a grassy patch to the right of me right there at the stop sign. I was able to turn into the mud prior to the street itself and give the oncoming SUV a chance to get past while I wallowed there for a second. Also lucky, there was not the usual never-ending line of cars behind the SUV, so I was able to just get right back onto Edmondson Pike and keep on going like nothing had happened.
And that idiot girl got right in behind me. Wouldn't you think if you saw the guy in front of you go sliding off into the mud instead of making a normal stop, you would want to keep your distance? Not this girl.
Right after that is a fairly sharp left turn. If you miss the turn, you end up in a deep ditch in front of Music City Kennels. I gently pressed my brakes going into that turn and they worked fine. And from that point on, although I was keeping a good 100 yards between me and the car in front of me, my brakes worked fine.
Is it possible a leaf got into my brakes and caused all this? Maybe my brakes are just faulty and once they lock up, they just keep locking up for a few seconds. Not long, just long enough to kill me. In hindsight, what happened today is probably what happened when I rear-ended that girl in February because I always felt that I wasn't following her too closely that day. I'm getting my brakes checked next week.
Anyway, I made it to work. But that wasn't the end of my stressful day. Up until lunch everything was fine, but I HAD to get my and Tara's debit cards cleared up before the weekend. For lunch, I had nothing in the office fridge and had to go to Kroger (grocery store) for something for lunch. I can't eat fast food anymore now that I'm a vegetarian. There's just nothing available in that vein. Of course, my debit card didn't work at the self-checkout so I had to use a credit card. My bank, Suntrust, actually has a branch in that Kroger. I had thought about talking to the dorky but seemingly intelligent teller I usually deal with there, but he wasn't around. All I saw was some young blonde guy who I assumed would be useless like most people behind most counters. :)
After I ate lunch in the office break room with the usual gang from work (Terry, Keith, Amy, Darlene, Paula and Wendy), I went back out to a different bank branch. The Brentwood branch in Maryland Farms, the one where I thought I had made it clear to the manager that if my mortgage payment was going to overdraw the account, DON'T make that payment, make the mortgage company call me, I'd said. I had done this after they'd charge me $256 in overdraft charges! Bastards! Pardon me.
It had taken several minutes of repeated explanation that day before the bank manager claimed to understand and assure me that it had been taken care of. At one point during that conversation, I actually had to ask, "What part of this don't you understand?" I wasn't trying to be an ass, he was just being so stupid. He apparently came up with a "solution" on the spot just to get rid of me, and it didn't work.
Anyway, I went back there again today and explained my troubles to some woman behind a desk. She said she didn't think what I had asked her manager to do was possible. I said maybe not, but he assured me it had been done. The manager himself then came over and looked up the actual note in their computer system from 7 months ago, the one he'd said would take care of it. I was nice to him today and said, "Well, you did your part, but the system didn't work."
Anyway, they called another branch manager (because my account is technically still "owned" by the Green Hills branch where I'd originally opened it 15 years ago). He'd been in a meeting when they called, but he called back after I'd returned to work. He explained that the Brentwood branch manager never should have told me it was taken care of because, like the woman in the Brentwod office tried to tell me, what I had requested was impossible. According to them, anyway.
If it wasn't for the fact that they LIVE off overdraft fees and such, they could easily have programmed their computer system to NOT take out payments if there were insufficient funds, because the mortgage is also held by Suntrust. I explained this to this latest branch manager. He probably knew I was right, but never let on, and never waived the main $175 fee as I had requested, but did at least waive a subsequent $35 fee. I've got an email into their corporate customer service via the web site, however, so I haven't totally given up on those fees being waived. I'm not holding my breath, either.
Anyway, I'm now back home. Tara and Elizabeth are at Elizabeth's 6-year-old twin cousins' birthday party an hour north of here in White House, TN. I'm relaxing writing this, drinking wine (some Australian brand Merlot) with the pug Joey on my lap, listening to, well, Chopin at the moment, although it was Bruce Springsteen before that and the Cowboy Junkies before that. iTunes. Gotta love it. I have eclectic taste. Now here's the Crash Test Dummies, and I'm tired of typing.
"Interesting life you lead. Thanks for the blog." Dad, 2008-11-07 13:56:53
"I am so glad you are alright! We had to put a horse down Sunday. It was the filly (Jello Pudding), she jumped the fence and hurt herself so much that her intestines were coming out. We couldn't save her. Matt shot her and buried her in the front pasture. So very sad. " Jeannie Womack, 2008-11-07 14:23:23
"Wow, Bill. It's great that you avoided an accident! I've been in enough of them to know that they're no fun at all. Your banking problems remind me of why I avoid automatic payments. At least with my checkbook and postage stamps, I have control over who gets paid and when. I'm sure you'll have a better day on Monday. Take care! " Greg, 2008-11-07 17:24:13