Insufficient Funds: Everyday Magic, Day 72

It has been a long time since I threw myself on my knees in front of my bank’s vice-president because  of insufficient funds. While I have found that saying “I throw myself on your mercy” or “I’m such a complete idiot” do wonders to erase bank charges, such exchanges aren’t what I recommend for great fun.

So I track my money like my cat tracks a moth: constantly. This is because I’ve learned something of my flaws. My over-optimism tends to make me imagine five or six things I can do with extra money that comes in, and the lack of quite enough rational thinking leads to believe all is always possible. Luckily, another flaw is the tendency to obsess, which works as a counter-balance in the age of bank balances being available at the touch of a keyboard. I actually balance my checkbook daily, sometimes twice a day when the chute between the present and the paycheck is narrow.

That’s why when the dreaded phone call came this morning — my husband on the other end, three hours away at a gas station, saying that the debit card wouldn’t work — I woke up in triple-super-speed and raced to the computer where I remembered I have another little flaw. Sometimes I forget to check important details, like whether I put the rental car on the one credit card we have or on the debit card, which is how we ended up upsidedown in our checking account.

From there, I rifled through drawers to confirm that yes, I indeed had torn up and recycled all those courtesy checks from the Discover card, and yes, I had also canceled all other credit cards over the last few years. In minutes, I was out the door, aiming the car toward Discover ATMs to use my brilliantly-just-created PIN to exhale cash from one machine and inhale it into another one (at my bank).

So what is there to say about this? That for the first time, when the phrase “insufficient funds” rang in my head, I didn’t feel like I was failing at life or like I just inhaled half a dark chocolate cake and had a dark chocolate migraine igniting. I just felt like I made a little mistake, no biggie, just a human thing to do. Driving to my bank with a pile of cash to clean up any impending mess, I thought about how farces work: they tell the story of one mistake piled on another until it’s obvious everything is about to explode in total disaster, but then, thanks for everyone embracing the folly of being human, the show ends in marriages and kisses, reunions and laughter.

So let’s hear it for the folly of insufficient funds, not insufficient people, where all’s well that ends well.

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