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Tuesday, November 5, 2002

I didn't try very hard to hold it together today. I guess that's why when it all started to fall apart, I just went with it. Instead of trying to be reasonable, as I usually do, I tried to make everyone else as miserable as I was. It started at the bank this morning, where all I wanted to do was make a simple deposit. The bank was happy to take the money, as long as I didn't plan on using it.

The Company might be low on cash, but the bills go on unabated. And unpaid, even though we have mountains of credit available to us. That's how it works sometimes: we have to borrow short-term on credit cards and then pay them off as soon as the receipts come flooding in.

If we could get our customers to pay us ahead of time, we'd have no problems. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way, at least not in the construction business. I guess there are businesses that collect their receipts before they have to pay their costs. If the demand for what you're selling is high enough, you might be able to get away with it. The Rolling Stones tour has been sold out for months, so there's probably nothing keeping them from rolling on.

Meanwhile, here I sit gathering moss, and all because they're paving the Safeway parking lot.

At the bank branch inside of the Safeway store, they always deposit the checks I present. Once in awhile I'll get a new teller who will insist that credit card access checks have to be held for two or three weeks, but I can always get around that by talking to the manager.

We've been pretty flush for several months now, but the cash has dried up and I had to borrow a fairly sizable amount. When I got to the bank I found that Safeway had inconsiderately picked today to block off two-thirds of their parking lot. I drove around the other third for twenty minutes, but the competition was too stiff, so I stormed off looking for another bank branch.

The one I found is much more elegant than anything you'll see inside a supermarket, but that doesn't mean they treat you any better. For ages I was second in line, but as the line behind me got longer and longer they were actually closing teller windows in front of me. I got to know my line-mates well enough to share a disgusted shrug with them every time this happened.

When it was my turn and the magic word "hold" came up, I knew I was in deep trouble. The teller couldn't help me, and the rather stern manager gave me the evil eye. I explained that at my own branch they never held my deposits, so she asked me the names of people I'd dealt with there. I thought I did pretty well to come up with a couple of names, except that she sniffed, "Oh, they haven't worked there for weeks."

I'm sorry I missed the going-away parties, but I did finally talk her into calling the branch. I don't know what they said to her, but she told me they wouldn't have deposited my check without holding it either. If that's true, it would have been the first time, but I didn't really have a choice.

Some of the funds will be released for me to use next week and the rest the following week. Meanwhile, I have payroll to make and other bills to pay. If I don't keep current with our suppliers, we won't be able to buy enough materials to stay in business and keep making money.

So I did the only thing I could do. I came home and called the Boss and asked him to dip into his personal savings. He's offered to do this in the past, and it was no problem, as long as I promised to pay him back as soon as the check I deposited today clears.

It's going to be a close call, because I have bills due that should be paid and others that must be paid, and I have receipts coming in that might or might not get here in time to be of any use in paying the bills I have to pay.

It's a thoroughly frustrating situation that I've dealt with during the whole sixteen years I've worked for the Company. It's been such a calm few months that I was getting used to paying all my bills on time. That pleasant scenario is over for now. This week is going to be bad, and next week will be either a little better or much worse.

In the end, though, I reverted to form. I might have pleaded a little more than usual, and raised my voice a couple of decibels, but I let the bank manager off the hook. I even thanked her, although as I was walking out the door I wasn't sure what for. Thanks for ruining my day? Thanks for taking my money? Thanks for making me feel like a total jerk? Thanks a lot.



If the stakes weren't so high, I wouldn't be so unhappy about the results of today's national election. It appears the president will get his Senate majority that will rubber stamp the rush to war. I had hopes after reading about the late polls, but something happened when people stepped into the voting booth. Fear? I suppose that's part of it. This is going to take some time to absorb. I don't know if I have the heart or the stomach to face what this new Congress will do in the next two years.

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