While preparing to write this post, I realized I have achieved one of my money sub-dreams.
That is, I am now brave enough to rant about money things that happen to me. I used to be ashamed to rant, because I guess I thought it revealed too much about what I think about money, and how I am with money. That stuff used to be private. I think a lot of people feel that way.
Allow me to say how liberating it is to be over that.
Thus, I present a rant: money is driving me crazy.
Money Is Driving Me Crazy #1: The Fourth of July
O Psychic One was born on the Fourth of July. His birthday kicks off official birthday season in our house. I have a July birthday, and Sir Empath and Virgo Man were born one day plus about 30 some odd years apart. Also, my mother, Virgo Man’s mother, and my sister and brother were all born within six days of each other (plus some years, of course) in August. I tell you, it’s birthday central around here beginning on the Fourth of July.
As a child, I was never a fan of fireworks. My earliest fireworks memory dates back to when I was about three and my parents took me to the big display at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. It was freezing cold and windy as we sat packed on the football field with 12 bazillion other people. Then all the lights went out and it was pitch dark. That was scary enough – to be in a strange place in a huge crowd of strangers, shivering with cold, in the pitch dark – but then, KABOOM, the sky exploded and sparks seemed to shower down over our heads.
I thought we would all be killed. “Traumatized” is too gentle a word.
Let us just say that after that, sparklers were about my speed.
Then O Psychic One came along. That boy loves a party. He has grown up with the idea that everyone in the entire country celebrates his birthday. He used to ask me if it was his birthday any time he saw an American Flag. So, it’s bring on the fireworks every Fourth of July.
Conveniently, Virgo Man and his Best Friend are stunted at about 12 years old when it comes to fireworks. The bigger and the louder, the better. Best Friend lives on a quiet private street outside the city limits, and this is where we have always done our homegrown Fourth of July fireworks show, untroubled by such things as laws and police patrols. This year as we settled in with our tres leches birthday cake and our beverages, there was one important difference: The Big Finale.
Virgo Man had sprung for a Jumbo Purple Rain. The regular sized Purple Rain is a traditional favorite for us. As thrifty (er, cheap) as Virgo Man is, it was still a no-brainer for him to shell out $25 for the Jumbo Purple Rain. The thing was about one foot square. It had five separate wicks. Just on pure appearance it promised greatness. The kids (including Virgo Man and Best Friend) hovered around it all evening, waiting for darkness to fall.
Alas, the Jumbo Purple Rain failed to deliver. And when I say failed, I mean it. It appears to have been nothing more than five regular sized Purple Rains dumped into a box and wrapped with purple paper printed with the word JUMBO on it. When all five fuses were lit and we stood 30 feet back lest the thing rocket upward and outward with the force of cannons, what we beheld was not Jumbo.
It was not even large.
It was simply five Purple Rains that had all been lit at the same time. And to make matters worse, we could have bought five Purple Rains and put a rubber band around them for at least $10 less.
We paid $10 to get hoodwinked. This is driving me crazy. Don’t even get Virgo Man started.
Money is Driving Me Crazy #2: The Incident of the Car Keys and the Pay Phone
On another day this week, Virgo Man accidentally left his car keys and cell phone in his office and realized it just before he boarded the bus toward home. It was the last bus out, so he didn’t have time to go back for the keys and phone. Also, he had no cash. Does anyone ever have cash any more?
Anyway, he found a pay phone and called me collect. Except that we have VOIP, which does not accept collect calls. The friendly recorded operator informed me that I could use a debit or credit card to pay the charges; press 1 to accept. I pressed 1, and the friendly recorded operator said, “thank you. Your charges will be $13.25 for the first minute…”
Click. More like, slam.
That was the sound of Virgo Man hanging up. He might pay $25 for a Jumbo Purple Rain, but no way would he ever pay $13.25 for one minute of telephone conversation. I lingered near the phone, unable to divine why he might be calling me, and hoping he was scrounging change to call me again. Sure enough, a minute later, the phone rang again, only there was a period of silence before Friendly Operator intoned her message again.
The period of silence was Virgo Man shouting into the phone, “I don’t have my keys. Meet me at the Park ‘n Ride.”
The Friendly Operator recording knew what he was up to and censored him. I remained clueless, and my brain went into high gear. An accident? A Denver Boot? Is he stranded somewhere? I flew into action, because I am a rescuer and a fixer. I told Sir Empath, “Stay by the phone. I’m heading in the direction of San Rafael. If Virgo Man calls again, tell him to call me on my cell. And tell him I’ll pay the $13.25!” And with that, off I sped for San Rafael, watching for breakdowns and accidents.
Forty-five minutes later, just after I hung up from the emergency room, where I had called to see if Virgo Man had been admitted, my phone rang. Guess who. He was in Sonoma. I was in San Rafael. I had easily spent $13.25 in gas, which I pointed out in no uncertain terms. “I’d rather have you driving around than pay $13.25 for a one minute phone call,” Virgo Man reported.
Not me. I’d rather have paid the $13.25 and saved the trip. But I see his point.
On what planet do they charge $13.25 for one minute on the telephone?
That’s all I have to say. Money is driving me crazy. Another one of my money sub-dreams is for that to stop happening.