Monday, March 17, 2014

FML: The wedding, the cash and, the stolen wallet.

There is a pile of stories from the summer I never got to finish telling you. This was supposed to be my EFF MY LUCK edition of blog posts. Funny enough this is a happy messed up story. My apologies in advance for the length. This is more short story, less blog post.

I went back to dealing blackjack in October of 2012. It's a fun job, easy money...not so great hours. I didn't want to work full time. My awesome boss let me work just enough hours so I was on the brink of break down, but not quite over board. But during the fire season it was hard working grave hours with no husband around and, 3 kids that don't want you to sleep. So when we had a camping trip planned and some concert tickets I took a couple months off. The problem with taking a couple months off is it leaves you broke. Really broke. My husband has been a seasonal firefighter for 6 years. Every winter he does countless interviews and testing for full time positions. But nothing ever panned out for him. We spend the winter months digging holes. Then the summer months we dig back out. In the middle of all that digging we had kids and bought an old house. So the bills kept piling and the money wasn't steady year around. 

When I quit my grown up job as a 911 dispatcher I decided that being broke would be worth it. There will always be time to make money. Your children are only young once. (as I type this, my 3 year old is on my back like a monkey, singing me a song.)  But you don't always plan for the big expenses or the painful feeling of failure (the shameful not so secret, secret). 

My cousin was having a wedding in Monterey. I was so excited to go. But when the time came there was barely enough money for gas to get there. Then I started thinking about what we'd wear. Moose could wear his Easter outfit. Butterfly could wear her hand me down dress from Fish. But I didn't have anything for Fish to wear. I was on the tightest of budgets. I knew I needed a certain amount of money to get me to Monterey. My husband and I had exactly $67 in our account for me to use after my tiny deposit of $390. I checked our account right before I left to shop for a dress for Fish. I hate shopping. The whole experience was depressing. After 4 stores we finally found a dress, it was $20. As I walked my children to the register I was thinking to myself  "I'm 35 and I'm stressing over spending twenty fucking dollars". After all that  searching and agony...I had left my wallet in the car. I was so pissed at myself, at the situation. I wanted to complain to someone and I hadn't forgotten my phone. 

We use an app called mint.com on our phones. It is a budgeting app that helps you track your money. The coolest part is you can put the widget on your home screen and it will always show you your account balance. 

On my way to the car I pulled out my phone and the home screen popped up. My Mint.com widget said my balance was $39,597. I stared at the screen the whole walk to the car. I stared at the screen while I strapped my children in. I got in the driver seat and I stared at the screen. My first thought was "Great! not only was it humiliating to have nothing in the god damned account to begin with. Now I have to call the bank and tell them the screwed up! UGH!!" I opened the app to verify the bank would show my deposit of $390 had accidentally been posted as $39,000. That wasn't what I found. The deposit was from the U.S. government. 

My husband had medical issues caused by his time in the military. He followed procedure when he got out and, filed the paperwork he was advised to file. All the claims were denied so he went about his life. It wasn't until he needed updated medical information that he was asked about it. Again he was advised to fill out a few forms. He'd forgotten all about it, almost 2 years later.....his claims were accepted. 

We double checked our double checking to make sure it was correct.

NOW, I was excited to go to the wedding!

I took some money out so I'd have cash. I went shopping for the kids school clothes at Kohl's. The crazy thing was the security guard was creepy. He was talking to my kids, STRANGER DANGER, following us around the store. He just made me uncomfortable. When I was walking to my car I turned around and he was following me. I asked if I could help him and, he told me he was waiting for my cart. I rushed the girls into the car. The whole time he just stood there staring. Then he started talking to Moose. I got my bags into the car and, grabbed Moose. I never had a chance to check the cart. He was already long gone with it. Which really sucked. Because my wallet was still sitting in it. It wasn't until 45 minutes later that I even noticed. I had a couple hundred in cash and my ATM card in it. 

Thankfully I didn't have the ATM card to the account with the big money. The fiasco was very inconvenient. I had to drive almost 2 hours to where Micah was working a fire to get his card. I had no drivers license. I hadn't booked a hotel in Monterey because we were broke. Now I couldn't get one because I had no ID. 
Tavo and Jen's gorgeous Monterey wedding
The wedding was gorgeous. When the dancing stopped I realized it had all been worth it.........but it wasn't over yet. I was supposed to drive to a friends house to stay the night. After I left the wedding I realized my cell was dead. The adapter fuse was blown so I couldn't charge it. With no GPS I was lost. When I stopped for gas, I accidentally slammed the tailgate on my head. So, I was dizzy, driving in circles at 10pm with 3 sleeping kids in the car.

Worst scenario ever. 

I finally found my parents hotel. I woke them up, got their "flip phone" ( I KNOW RIGHT!?!? WHO HAS FLIP PHONES ANYMORE) and headed to my friends house. When I got there her mother had decided to visit last minute and got MY couch. So after all that, I was sleeping in the garage. I felt like karma was trying to balance out the windfall!

I made it home and lived to tell the tale. Mysteriously my wallet appeared in the security office 4 weeks later. No note on how it was found, everything but the cash was there. The manager had to call my bank and have them reach me. For some reason my contact information had been thrown away. Creepy security guard.

After the nightmare week, we started answering the phone. When you have debt like we had the bill collectors are constantly calling. It was enough to dig us out and pay almost everything off. We finally replaced the fence that was falling when we bought the house. We paid off our car and replaced the bald tires. We paid things in advance so we wouldn't have to worry in 6 months about them. 

That money is long gone now. After years of medical debt and seasonal work there was a pile of bills to take care of. But we are more relaxed now. We're still broke...but it's OK. I will never shop at that Kohl's again. And I learned how to replace the fuse to the CLA. I am so glad I quit working 12 hour shifts as a 911 dispatcher. My house is still messy, I still have a pile of bills. But it worked itself out and I'm happier because of it. And that is the long long LONG story about the wedding, the cash and the stolen wallet.