Saturday, April 19, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady #320
Nancy White Kelly

It there is ever an emergency or urgency in our household, you can be sure it will occur on the week-end. Busy sorting old coins, I picked up the ringing phone.

“Ye Old Coin Shop.”

The man on the other end sounded cheerful enough.

“Is this Dr. Kelly?”

“It is. How can I help you?”

He introduced himself as “Ted” with Clearcheck Collection Agency. Now that is not a company I was familiar with.

“And how can I help you?” I asked again, genuinely puzzled.

“You made a purchase at So-and-So drugstore in Blairsville, Georgia, on March 31st for $69.00.”
I vaguely remembered. “And?”

“Your check was returned. Are aware there is a $30 returned check fee.”

I interrupted him. “Excuse me. My check should not have bounced.”

“But it did. You need to send us $69.00 plus the $30 returned check fee today.”

My blood pressure was rising.

“That is impossible” I said. “We have an adequate amount of money in our bank account to cover that check.” I knew it was so because I had just checked the balance the day before.

“Mam, you need to send us $99. We are a COLLECTION AGENCY.”
My mind swirled as I tried to remember the many scams I have read about recently in emails and in consumer magazines.

“You are mistaken, sir. We haven’t bounced a check.”

He proceeded to give me a check number which certainly sounded like one of the series we were using. Ted said I could check it out on-line at I assured him that I would and that somebody would owe me an apology. He proceeded to tell me that they would take a credit card on-line. Hmm.

Our bank in Young Harris is not open on Saturday and there was nobody for me to call or vent to. I probably needed a doctor as my blood pressure had risen enough to launch a space shuttle.
Sure enough, on line I was able to see a picture of the check I had written. I carefully read all the information and it seemed correct. That was my signature. This was puzzling. Surely our bank would have notified us if we had a check that bounced. It hadn’t.

I called the chain drugstore in Blairsville and asked to speak to the manager. She was not there, but the assistant was.

“Does your drugstore use a company called Clearcheck?” Without hesitation the manager replied that it was. I told her how I was called by a collection agency. The manager explained that the drugstore doesn’t even know when a check bounces and gave me an 800 number to call.
Being the week-end, of course, I couldn’t reach anybody but a foreigner who informed me in imprecise English to call back during normal business hours.

There was nothing to be done until Monday. My school schedule doesn’t permit me time to take care of such things, so Buddy became the main man. I presented him with the information that I had scribbled down. I braced for his reaction which, if a video, would be named, “Dial M for Mutter.” He fumed all that day and the next.

Even though Buddy had to be in Ashville for a medical appointment, he was up at sunrise on Monday. He was standing at the bank window as they opened the blinds. The pleasant teller spotted the problem immediately. The check had been routed to the wrong bank.

Back at home, Buddy called the 800 number he was given. As expected, he got the robotic “If you want a certain party, dial 1.” Dial 1 directed him to another 800 number. After 5 demands to punch in any number from 1-5, he was finally given to a human being.

I would not have wanted to be the lady he finally reached. He went through the entire spiel again. The lady said she would take care of it. No apology was forth-coming.

Buddy wasn’t ugly, but he was emphatic, “It will be a cold day in you know where before ya’ll get my $30.”

The next day Buddy got a call from the drugstore. “You need to send Clearcheck another check for the $69 since they are the ones who still have it.” We haven’t and probably never will.

My question is, “What happens if Clearcheck deposits the first as well as the second check?” Call me anything, but “S-T-U-P-I-D” is not how you spell it.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady #319
Nancy White Kelly

You will never hear me complain about birthdays. Living through two major bouts of metastatic cancer makes me appreciate every one of them. Yet, getting older brings limitations. Cutting my own toenails is beyond me now.

I can barely reach my toes which are not entirely due to age. While putting on hosiery is a struggle, it is still doable. Trimming my own toenails is impossible.

For the last couple of years I have joined the rank of the privileged. Frugal me has paid someone else to do that chore, heretofore unthinkable.

Working five days a week as a school marm, plus Saturdays at the Ye Old Coin Shop, make time a precious commodity. I took advantage of having a few extra hours during spring break and stopped by a leased nail salon inside Wally World. No appointment was needed.

A pleasant Asian-looking woman settled me into a vibrating chair that provided a pulsating back massage. What a welcomed retreat.I shut my eyes to the world. Without conversation, the girl guided each foot in and out of the swirling water with jus the poke of a finger.

Unexpectedly, the pedicurist had an aggressive style. She scrubbed my soles and toes with a short brush. Each sweep of the bristles began with a jab. The rough brushing became increasingly uncomfortable. I said nothing, believing that the procedure was a taught one which would soon stop.

My golden silence became red blood when the girl brushed the exterior of my big toe one last time. Unfazed, the young woman dabbed my raw toe with wet cotton before painting my toenails. No acknowledgement or apology was forthcoming. Nonchalantly she moved to next customer.

I waited in quiet shock as the toe paint dried. After several minutes I gathered my purse and glasses. The girl informed me that I needed to wait another 30 minutes before wearing my shoes. Noticing my frown, she offered some thin yellow flip-flops. I paid the male cashier as if nothing unusual had happened and even gave the girl a tip. At home I applied a topical ointment hoping that all would be well eventually.

All during the night my toe throbbed. When I told Buddy I was going to skip Sunday school, he knew something was wrong. He over-reacted just as I feared he might. It was good that the salon was closed and the girl unidentified. If you know my Buddy, it is a bad thing to mess with his wife.

Buddy hurriedly changed his church clothes. Mumbling something about staph, he pretended to order me into the car. That began a brief spat.

“Not going,” I argued. “Emergency rooms are for life-threatening emergencies.”

“This could cost you your toe, your foot and even your life,” he replied. “Get into the car.”I finally gave in to the benign badgering and offered a compromise.

Buddy drove to the walk-in clinic much too fast. Ironically we ended up waiting nearly three hours amidst coughing and barfing.

The diagnosis was as expected: “Punctured toe, infected abrasion...” Antibiotics were prescribed.
It has been three days now. Small red lines are sprouting north of my toe knuckle. (There is such a thing, isn’t there?)

I’ll watch and wait. My purse is $24 dollars lighter for the pedicure. Needless to say the pedicurist didn’t cure my ped. A check for the prescriptions will hit the bank tomorrow. I can hardly wait for the doctor bill.

The only up-side to this story is that I have ten pretty toenails.