Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dance Band on the Titanic

The scam man phoned again only didn't leave a message on the voice mail. I had done a reverse look up on the first number he left, but that only told me it was a land line in NY. This time, I had a company name and number. I looked up the company in BB and found this company does business under 49 other names and all sweepstakes. Red flags went up. If one of his companies is sending junk to Ma, so are the others. The BB didn't have much useful information. The company did not have an unusual amount of complaints lodged against it.

A week or so ago, Ma had received a letter from a US Postal inspector about one of the checks she received as a prize. Because I don't get a complete story, I wasn't sure if the inpsector's letter concerned the check Ma tried to cash on Tuesday.

I called Dad to try to find out the particulars. Only to find, she cashed the $250 check plus a few others she had. Seems she went crying to the neighbor next door to take her to the bank. Help me, Lord! The bank opened a second checking account for her, and all the checks were deposited into this new account. She was told she couldn't have access to the funds for at least a week.

I feel like I'm in the dance band on the Titanic.

I have a sick feeling about what will happen, but can't do anything but play the tune. The worse thing is if, on the long shot, one or all of the checks she deposited are legitimate, there will be no end to Ma's "I told you so." I can just hear her chortle and gloat. Depending on the time of day, God, Nostradamus, and her father have told her she will be a rich woman. She is, but she's looking in the wrong places.

So she took a gamble and maybe, just maybe, she beat the odds. I wish her Buona fortuna! The worst thing is the addiction will become even stronger. But Fortune's wheel swings round. Most gamblers know the House always wins. Always. In the mean time, I stand on the deck in the > Dance Band on the Titanic by H. Chapin

Friday, February 23, 2007

Thursday's Child

The sun was shining and though cold, it promised to be a beautiful day. Dad's eye doctor appointment had been changed from 10am to an hour earlier, and I was unable to give him a ride. I pushed down the momentary guilt and reveled in the thought I had crossed an imaginary international date line and gained a day. Since I didn't have a Weeble run, I had an extra day to work on the roll call book. Yes, it promised to be a perfect day.

I told the Young One I would do some work on the book, and we could spend the afternoon at the mall having lunch and shopping. In the middle of lettering, the phone rang and on the fourth ring the call was sent to voice mail. Most times, these calls are from telemarketers and charities. On the off chance it was the Eldest calling for a ride home from work because another water main broke, I dialed into the voice mail and saw red. Steam poured from my ears.

Seems Ma wasn't happy with the bank telling her the $250 check didn't seem kosher, she called the scam man who issued the check, and gave him my phone number so he could talk to me! I could feel the blood pounding in my ears. How dare she! How dare she put me in the middle of her OPD stupidity! I paced, cursed, and spoke in tongues. I said the eff word several hundred times.

Long ago, and through the hard way, I learned to continue with my work if I was unhappy or in a bad mood, was disastrous. The work came through my hands in ugly puddles and rivers and would only need to be redone. Since I was writing in a book, I couldn't take the chance pages could easily be removed in order to redo. No sense trying to work with flames shooting from my eyes.

Just as I'm collecting keys and kid, the phone rings. No psychic or caller ID to tell me the call is from Ma. She dances around the reason for the call. I don't mention her scammer had called earlier. Finally, she tells me about that damn check. I tell her she's never to give my phone number out to anyone.

"I don't care if the Pope himself wants my number. You're not to give it out! Do you understand?"

She whines the man told her the check is good, and she should cash it. She's like a dog worrying a bone and no amount of reasoning or cajoling is going to work.

"If you want to cash the check, cash the damn check!"

I feel the familiar throbbing behind my left eye. I'm determined she's not going to spoil the rest of the day. I may not be able to work, but I can enjoy the afternoon with my kid. It's near lunch time and I tell the Young One we are going to be very naughty. We are going to have ice cream for lunch and the world can go to hell in a hand basket. The Young One is thrilled.

The weather was sunny and pleasant for a winter day. There was a feeling of Spring in the air. We went to the ice cream parlor, and I was disappointed to find there were no tables to enjoy the decadent treat inside. I wasn't adventurous enough to eat my ice cream outside. No worries. I promised the Young One we would be naughty. We head to the bookstore. I order cups of chai and a double chocolate cheesecake slice for her, and a heated cinnamon bun for me. I try to concentrate on the delight of the Young One and not Ma and that damn check. I wish I could make the draft spontaneously combust or to find a way to reason with Ma. Thursdays' child has far to go.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tuesday's Child is Full of Grace

I had Tuesday all neatly planned. Ma and Dad had a doctor's appointment mid-afternoon. Since it was school vacation week, I thought I'd dra...take my Young One with me for a visit with Grandma before the appointment. I planned an hour and a half visit. We'd sit, have tea, whine and I'd score points as the Golden Child for bringing the grandchild for a visit. Perfect.

My plans didn't work out the way the way I had choreographed things in my head. They rarely do, but I'm ever hopeful. The minute we walked through the door, Ma wanted to go to the bank. I don't think she even notice the Young One with me. She urgently needed to go to the bank to cash a check.

Every family has a skeleton, dirty secret, or crazy relative hidden in the attic. The dirty secret in my family is Ma is addicted to bogus lotteries, psychics, contests all promising prize money and riches. The amounts she sends out are small but over time it has added up to a hefty chunk of change. She dreams, wishes and talks about money. As if there's a celestial slot machine that will rain quarters on her. I'm reminded of the line from The Quiet Man "Money! Is that all you Danahers think of? I'm sick of the talk of it."

So that was the reason we had to dash to the bank. "Someone" had sent her a check for $250. No amount of telling her these things are scams penetrate gold fever. If I try to point out these letters with their checks (and we're not talking about one or two, but stacks and stacks) are scams or equity loans, she yells I have no faith in her. She's right, I don't. But "someone" has sent her the check, and she has to get to the bank. There is no reasoning with her. She's like a spoiled child hounding and whining for a treat. Some children need to learn lessons the hard way. I take her to bank so she can cash the damn check. Let some scam artist drain the account. It's bound to happen sooner or later, let it be sooner. I can have the satisfaction of saying "I told you so."

The Young One and I wait in the car, me with my book and the Young One with an electronic game. We are startled when the car door is wrenched open. It's only Grandpa speaking in tongues. Grandma must have started singing the "You're Stupid" song at the bank. Grandpa takes a few deep breaths and then goes back into the bank as Ma will need help coming out. The Young One and I watch from the car window. Soon Ma and Dad come out. The Young One remarks that Grandma looks sad.

"The teller wouldn't cash the check!" She is upset and very unhappy.

"And why is that?" I know the answer. I hope having a stranger tell her what we've been telling her all along will have finally sunk in.

"She said it looked funny and she wouldn't cash it. She said we need to go to the bank at the mall and have them cash it."

"No! The check is illegal. We don't have time to go to the mall and make it to the doctor's appointment."

"Why would she tell me to go to bank at the mall?"

Because if she told you to go to hell, she'd lose her job. "Because she didn't want to deal with a pain in the ( ! ) customer who wouldn't listen to her her when she said there was something wrong with the damn check.

Ma was not happy, but her mood improved when she came out of the doctor's office. She was beaming. The doctor told her for her 88 years, she is in top shape. He cut back her heart medication. She also has the blood pressure of a 25 yr. old woman. Dad also had a good report, much to his chagrin. Good news, the two of them are going to live forever.

Back at the house, she wants to find the envelope the check came in. I feel the familiar throbbing of the vessel behind my left eye. She has the blood pressure of a 25 yr. old woman. I can feel mine start to skyrocket.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Children's Song

I had another Weeble run this time for a doctor's appointment for the two of them. I sailed down the Pike in good spirits as there wasn't much traffic. It would be an easy run today. The doctor would check heart and monitor blood pressure. Both appointments wouldn't take long. We'd be in and I'd be out to get back to my own work.

The front door is bolted as if it was the entrance to Fort Knox so I rang the bell. I heard the click and scrape of the locks as bolts were slid free. Dad opened the door. He was fully dressed which was a good sign.

"The doctor cancelled our appointment," he said. "I tried to call but the girl said you had already left."

I spoke in tongues. One has to give a doctor 24 hour notice of cancellation, otherwise, one is billed for the missed appointment. Well, nothing to be done but have a fast cup of tea and bolt, or so I thought.

"She has other plans for you today." Dad smiled elfishly.

More phrases. "Don't tell me. She wants to go to...."

"Market Basket."

I could hear Himself "Help me, Lord" but that's not what I said. "I thought your friend took you."

"She did. Yesterday. But Ma didn't finish her shopping."

As if on cue, Ma made her appearance. "I didn't get the fruits and vegetables. His friend wasn't feeling well, and she had us paged!"

Light dawned. It was colder than a witch's.....well, it was pretty darn cold that day. The poor woman must have succumbed to hyperthermia waiting the three hours in the car for the Weebles to totter around the store.

Dad was putting the kettle on to make tea.

"Don't bother, I said. If she wants to go to Market Basket, there's no time for tea now." So began the shuffle to get them out of the house. Just when you think you have both of them going in the same direction, one turns around and goes in the opposite direction. Herding cats is easier.

The parking lot to the store is packed, and all the handicap spots are filled. I offload the Weebles at the front door. Dad leaves me the handicap placard and I'm left to happily troll the parking lot for a handicap space. I settle into a space at the far end of the lot where I have a clear view of the front door and 6 handicap spots. I settle in with a book. I always carry a book to read for the times I have to wait, doctor's offices, Young Ones getting out of school or work. I don't mind waiting. Beats the hell out of administering sacraments to meat and veggies.

I look up and see a space available. Start the car and as I head down the lane, another Weeble careens around the corner and slips into the space. I go back to my spot and wait. I look up and an enormous monster truck has pulled along side of me. I no longer have a clear view to the front door and the handicap spots. I can't even see the building the truck is so large. I mutter some choice phrases and then move to another location.

More reading and more looking up. A spot had been available and another Weeble slipped into it. Another phrase. I'd have to watch more and read less. Shortly after, I see some Weebles coming out of the store, and they are heading to a handicap spot. I start the ignition and rev the engine. As they pull out, I head down the lane and neatly slide into the space. I'm insufferably pleased with myself. It's a grown up version of musical chairs, and I won. All around the cobbler's bench the monkey chased the weasel. The monkey thought it was all in fun. Pop, goes the weasel!