Archive for September, 2011

What Kind of Person Are You?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

On the issue of money, I believe people fall into one of two basic categories:  people who like to spend money and people who like to save money.  Obviously, that is a broad generalization, and people fall somewhere on the continuum between Diamond Jim Brady and Silas Marner.  Unfortunately, if two people marry who are close to opposite ends of that spectrum, there’s going to be trouble.  Trust me…big trouble.

The first hint that John and I might have some compatibility issues regarding finances came fairly early in our relationship.  One day when he was writing a check, I noticed that rather than recording the exact amount of the check in his register, he rounded up to the nearest dollar.  When I asked him why he did that, he replied, “When my balance gets to zero, I know I still have a few dollars left.”  I didn’t reply immediately because the absurdity of the idea made it seem almost logical momentarily.  However, I quickly regained my senses and said, “If you wrote down the exact amount, you would know exactly what you had left instead of guessing.”

“What difference does it make if I know I have EXACTLY $3.00 in my account or I know I have ABOUT $3.00 in my account?” he countered.

“Well, if you needed to buy something for $2.99, you could do it without worrying about an overdraft,” I offered.

“If my balance is zero and I need something for $2.99, I will borrow $3.00 from my roommate and pay him back when I get paid,” he said.

“What about reconciling your bank statement?” I asked, my incredulity rising.

“When I get my statement, I write down whatever the bank says I have in my account.  That’s why they send those out,” he added for good measure.

It was too early in the relationship to reveal the full extent of my shock and horror at his shoddy accounting practices.  I mean, everyone has a dark side, and this wasn’t serious enough to ruin a budding romance, was it?  After all, I grew up with a father who thought owing money to anyone was probably #1 on the list of the 7 deadly sins, so I had some financial baggage of my own.

It was a good thing that I looked past his monetary indiscretions and focused on his positive qualities.  Otherwise, I would have missed out on this crazy ride that has been our marriage.  That’s not to say that working out our differences was easy, but I have taught him the importance of saving for the future, and he has taught me to loosen the purse strings and enjoy some of the finer things in life.  However, I can’t make a frivolous purchase without checking the price tag and doing a quick mental check of all the bills that have to be paid in the near future before I buy.  I also have to have a minimum amount of money in the savings account for a financial cushion before I can feel secure.  He can’t completely stop spending, and I can’t completely stop saving.  That’s just the kind of people we are!

Say What?

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

What I say to John and what John hears me say have never been the same message. This is primarily because he is a man and only listens to the first half of the first sentence I speak. The rest fades into the “Wah, wah, wah, wah” spoken by adults in Charlie Brown cartoons. However, the last few years have taken a drastic turn for the worse fueled by the failure of his hearing. At the end of most of our conversations where we try to sort out the misunderstanding from a previous conversation, I find myself hearing the prison warden from Cool Hand Luke say, “What we’ve got here is…failure to communicate.”

Our conversation regarding his recent trips to Colorado fly fishing and Wisconsin on a bear hunt illustrate exactly what I mean.  He must have felt guilty about being gone five days to Colorado and then leaving a week later for six days in Wisconsin because he made a comment about leaving me at home to hold down the fort.  I told him I wouldn’t mind so much if there weren’t so many dogs to feed and water.  His only defense was the claim that if you were going to have any dogs at all, it didn’t take that much more time to care for eight than for one.  I vigorously disagreed, and went on to say that all I was asking was a little consideration of my opinion the next time he wanted to get another dog.  That was a pretty clear request in my mind not open to interpretation.

We have had nine dogs for the last four months because another dog owner found out about the bear hunt and asked John if he would take his dog, Amber, to Wisconsin to see if she would trail a bear.  John thought if Amber was going hunting, she needed some time to bond with him so she has been our “guest” all this time.  John’s plans rarely follow the course he lays out so it was no surprise that Amber came “in season” just a few days before the trip which meant she had to stay behind.  He took Razor and Nicki instead.

I was a little surprised that he took Nicki because she has not turned out to be much of a trail dog at all.  She had run into a wolf pack as a young dog, and she was either emotionally and physically damaged from the attack, or she had some other trauma we never knew about because we were never able to bond with her, and she was an outcast from our pack from the first day.  John tried everything to bring her out of her shell and even had her spayed so I thought she was a permanent fixture.  Even though she still had a long way to go, I was totally shocked when he got home and told me he gave her to a guy in Wisconsin.  When I asked him why the guy wanted her given her temperament and personality, he said he paid him to take her.  That was totally unexpected as the person WITH the dog is usually the one who ends up receiving money in the exchange.

Oh well, I wasn’t that attached to Nicki and it was one less mouth to feed.  When I asked John when he was taking Amber home, he said since he got rid of Nicki, he was thinking about asking Amber’s owner if there was a possibility that we could just keep her.  Apparently what he heard me say was that as long as he didn’t go over the eight dog limit, he had complete latitude in his dog acquisitions.  Say what?  Clearly, what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate!

Damsel in Distress, Part Two

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

I’m sure there are women in the world who can change the oil in their car and put on a spare tire in less than two hours. If you are one of them, I’m not talking to you. For me and most of my friends, car trouble ranks at the top of the list of things we want to avoid at all costs. It has been exactly a year and a half since I was stranded on the side of the road with a blown fuel pump.  Prior to that, the last incident that interrupted my travels was a flat tire in Oklahoma almost 30 years ago.  I guess that many years of incident-free driving has caused a back log of bad Karma because it happened again as I headed out pulling the camper on July 1st for a weekend of rest and relaxation with some extended family.  John wasn’t able to come along for the entire weekend because he couldn’t find anyone to feed and water the pack for that many days.  This meant I was traveling alone about 30 miles from home when one of the tires on the camper blew out.  You’d think I would have learned by now, but once again I immediately called John, or rather John’s voicemail because that’s what I got after frantically hitting speed dial. With the last strains of “…please leave your name and number…” echoing in my ear, I calmed down and began to figure out how to rescue myself since Sir Galahad was otherwise occupied.

Since it was 110º and I suck at changing tires, I found the roadside assistance card, dialed the number, and discussed the list of options I had with the operator. She just finished telling me that it would probably be at least an hour before they could get someone out there when a good Samaritan stopped by to offer help. I told the lady I would call her back if things didn’t work out. My errant benefactor helped me locate the jack in the pickup, but we quickly discovered that the tire tool didn’t fit the nut that had the spare securely attached to the back of the camper. I was about to send him on his way and start the roadside assistance process again when a McPherson County sheriff’s deputy pulled up to join our efforts. I’m not sure what made him think to try his tire tool, but it happened to be the right size, and the two of them had the tire changed in short order.

As they worked, the officer asked me where I was heading for the weekend. When I told him I was heading to the lake, he commented how much he loved to fish and wished that’s where he could be as well. After the spare was in place, I gave the officer my business card and told him he was welcome to come fish in our ponds anytime he was in our area. I made the same offer to the other man and slipped him a $20 as well. I told the officer I wished I could give him a $20, but he quickly said that wasn’t a possibility. As he headed back to his patrol car, he also mentioned that I might not have a completely uneventful trip if a highway patrolman noticed that my tag had an expired decal, but it wasn’t going to be a problem for him. I assured him I had a current decal at home somewhere and took his good humor as a sign my luck was changing. I felt so confident that I drove the rest of the way on my spare and waited until the next day to buy a new tire!

About an hour after I got back on the road, John returned my call with a lame excuse about leaving his phone in the garage. However, he was very apologetic and relieved to hear that I was back on the road. He has some redeeming qualities, but accessibility in a crisis will never be one of them which limits his ability to be my knight in shining armor. To be totally fair, I’m not much of a princess, but I would consider letting my hair grow long if he’d just keep his cell phone in his pocket.

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