Thursday, April 12, 2012

Death and Taxes


One of the elderly Pillars of the Assembly at our church passed away last month.

Her memorial service is Saturday afternoon.

I got a phone call last night from her grand-daughter, asking if I would play piano at the service.  Of COURSE I will.  I loved that lady like my own grandmother.  Then I got a call from the son, saying he needed to get together with me to coordinate the music.  Say what?  I mean what's to coordinate?  You show up early, you play the piano, you play the selection of hymns that the family requests, you play quiet, reverent background music during the quiet, reverent background-music portions of the service, you play Victory in Jesus, or When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, at the end, and then you have finger sandwiches and tea and go home.  There, I coordinated it.

The son came over this morning, anyways.  I cut him some slack, and i was gracious.  He did, after all, just lose his mother, and I'd want folks to give me grace when that time comes in my life.  He wanted to 'go over the hymns' for the service.  He's a sixty-something old-school polyester-suit-and-tie, wave-your-arms-vigorously-at-the-pulpit type of song-leader.  The kind of song leader I remember from my childhood.  And he has opinions on how fast or slow songs are supposed to go. And he has his OWN opinions on when there should be breaks, when there should be fermatas, and when everyone should 'just pay attention to me, to know when to come in'.  We went over the hymns for the service.  ALL four verses of EACH hymn.  Twice.  With him waving his arms, and singing in a loud, loud, LOUD baritone voice that should shake the paint off the walls.  At one point, he moved into the next room, because he 'could tell it was too loud with the voice and piano in the same room'.

Yeah.  I just took two advils.

But I am doing this for Florence.  To honor her.


Property taxes were due on Tuesday around these parts.

Last week, I started getting ready to do the deed (we don't have an escrow account that accumulates tax money and deposits it on our behalf, so we have to come up with a chunk of change twice a year).  I checked our checking account, adn realized that we were a little bit shy.  So I went in to our bank branch, and asked the teller to transfer a relatively large sum from our line of credit into our checking account.  I made small talk with her while we were doing this.  I mentioned the balance in the checking account, and how I needed a bit more than that for taxes, but that payday was Friday, so it would only be a little bit of bridge financing, bla bla bla.  She commented on what a great rate we had on our Line of Credit, and before I knew it, I was heading out with my little receipt in my wallet, showing that I had moved enough money to cover the giant check.

On Monday, Toni and I had our 'date' to go pay taxes in person.  We had great service at the county office, and were in and out in three minutes, even though we'd budgeted an hour, just in case there was a line-up.
Later, after I'd dropped Nate off at Kung-Fu, I went over to pick up some groceries.

While I was pushing my cart around, I heard someone say "Hey, check your bank balance".  Didn't see anyone around me.  But it got me thinking.  And then I got to worrying.

And then I went to the bank machine in the grocery store, and I checked my balance.

I didn't recognize the number.  It wasn't what the 'full' account should have had in it.  But it wasn't the number that should be there if the property tax check had already cleared.  And it was FAR less than what was needed to cover the property taxes.

I did a quick "Check last ten transactions", (for a dollar!  Though I think this week it's a dollar well spent), and there was NO RECORD OF THE MONEY MOVING INTO THE ACCOUNT ON FRIDAY.

At that point, I completely lost my sh*t.  I abandoned the groceries, raced to the car, and, forgetting that Nate was still in class, and would need to be picked up in a half hour, drove like Steve McQueen across town to my bank.

I love my branch, because you almost never have to wait.  It's in a grocery store, and I guess folks don't give it much attention.  They all know me there, which is a HUGE BONUS, as you will soon see.

I got to the teller, and explained my story.  "Where's the money?" I asked, because the transaction on Friday was supposed to be INSTANTANEOUS.

She looked at my bank card, pulled up my account, and said "oh, there's the transaction.  Money was moved from your LOC to your Checking, as you requested.

I blinked "But why does it not show up as a transaction in my account, and why is my account balance lower than it needs to be for the tax check to clear?"

"Oh, that's because it was moved into your Portfolio Management Account"



"Um, what's that?" I asked.  "Because, as far as I recall, I did NOT ask to have money  moved into an account that I *CANNOT WRITE CHECKS ON*  And I have just written a check to the County Tax Collector that had BETTER not bounce."

"Oh!  A PMA is a wonderful thing to have.  It can save you all sorts of money..." the teller began to gush.
I interrupted her.  "At this point, my PMA hasn't saved me anything, and is about to cost me $755 in fees and penalties with the county tax collector.  I need that money moved into the account that I requested... on FRIDAY."  I was nearly in tears.

Fortunately, the teller realized almost immediately the error that had been made by the previous teller on Friday, and was quick to say "I can have this reversed, and set to right instantaneously.  No check has gone through on your ACTUAL checking account, and I will have the funds in place in a matter of seconds."
Thank you.  Now what can you do about my heart attack.

And as an afterword:  Yesterday, I went in to the bank with Skip for him to activate his bank card on his new "college account".  (Also?  Can I just say YIKES!).  I mentioned the debacle about the PMA/LOC business to the branch manager, who pulled up our accounts to figure out what might have gone wrong.  And found that the whole "put money into wrong accuont, take money OUT of wrong account" had also triggered some weird overdraft fee cascade in the PMA (which we DO NOT USE!).  Thankfully, before I could burst into tears (again), she quickly typed in something that made all the RED NUMBERS go away.

I'm still kind of shaky over that whole business.  Maybe I should send one of my kids to Become A Banker College, so we'll have someone in the family that actually understands the arcane alchemy that is Modern Bank Accounting.

Ah, along that line (hello, ADHD, glad you popped by again.  Oh look!  Sparkles!) Skip brought home his 'course selection sheet' for his senior year.  My (Canadian citizen) son, who likes physics, chemistry, and calculus, and is borderline on having to take remedial English is taking AP Government next year.  AP?  Say what?

I chatted with him about it a bit.  "What in the world, Skip?  You're taking AP Govt?  What's up with that?  I thought you shied away from anything that wasn't math and science, and here you are, not just taking a Govt class, but an AP Govt class.  What's up?  You're surprising me at every turn."

"oh, that?  Well, I'm not really taking it for the government part.  I'm more interested in the fact that it's Government AND ECONOMICS, and i think Economics would be fun."


This is not my child.

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