Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No Fool Like an Old Fool?

OMG! What a day! Everything started out ok. I was up for the sunrise, and had the dishes and a load of laundry in by 0700. I had some ideas for the first day's blog and I was looking forward to getting a few surfaces cleared off and things put away. The house is still transforming, and I find I only have energy for one or two of these tasks a day. And sometimes, not even that. Today was one of those days, but how it got there is a cautionary tale for anyone in my position.

I was taking care of the monthly bills, and considering ways to make them sting a little less. Right about that time I got a phone call from one of those companies who offer to help you negotiate with your creditors to reduce your interest rates and maintain the accounts, yada, yada, yada. "How serendipitous!" I thought. I got passed from one rep to the next and I explained how I was newly widowed and had a reduced income and needed some ways to manage my debt. With each time I was able to control my voice a little more (the word "widow" catches in my throat sometimes), felt a little stronger, more in control. I convinced myself I was making a sound financial decision.

The next thing I knew, I had signed up for their service at $698.95 to be put on my card with the highest balance, since that's the one they were going to go after first. It was when they told me that the charge would appear under a company called 3.14, and not First Secure Management, that the first of the little alarm bells began to go off. By the time I had browsed around on their website for a few minutes, I WAS the alarm bell, and it was the klaxon announcing a base-wide alert! They were going to charge me $700 to do something I could do for myself!

I immediately called the credit card company to put a stop to the charge and contacted First Secure Management to let them know that I wished to nullify the agreement. Keep in mind, that this was within one hour of speaking with them. I explained once again, that I was newly widowed and that I had realized upon hanging up the phone that this arrangement really was not in my best interests. I was certain, that as an ethical company, they would honor that request. I had not yet received any goods or services from them, and they had not yet received my money. What could be simpler?

I was told that I would have to forward them a doctor's certificate declaring me incapable of making my own financial decisions. That's when I went a little medieval. I had to hang up before I started saying things I couldn't or wouldn't back up with action. I did tell the young woman that she should be ashamed of herself (that's when I knew I was slipping over into "out of control") and that I was going to contact my lawyer. I did contact my lawyer; it never hurts to be protected. And I finally did get a phone call back from the rep that signed me up and he agreed that the contract would be nullified and I would not be charged.

There are three things that came out of this:
  • My dear grandmother was amazing when it came to money. From her I learned: Don't be pressured into any kind of big-ticket decision that has to be made right now with no study or consideration. I know this. I preach this to my kids. I KNOW THIS! But I am grieving. I am temporarily crazy. I need to be sensitive to that, and put a lock on any kind of decision with financial implications until I consult with at least one other trusted friend/relative.
  • Given the full-blown anxiety attack that this kicked off, I would say I still have some fear issues. Damn! Well, at least I can recognize it when it is coming at me now, and I don't end up sedated and in a darkened room. And I know that money issues trigger it, so that means I have a great deal of control over the situation. I eliminate money issues. Yeah. Any other ideas?
  • Not everyone is looking out for the widow. Some of the people I spoke with today are predators, pure and simple. I need to let Pollyanna be Pollyanna, and Sharon take care of Sharon because that's who is here.
My creation for the day was some yummy creamed corn. Creamed corn was Bill's favorite, but he would eat the canned stuff!  I had to learn how to make it  from scratch so that I wouldn't have to eat that yucky crap. Homemade is very easy. Use one ear of corn for each person or serving. Slice the corn from the cob. Don't slice too deeply, as you want to get the tops mostly. Then use the back of the knife to scrape the rest of the corn out of the cob. Saute a little minced onion and garlic in a tablespoon or two of butter until translucent. Add corn and a little cream and season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Simmer about 10 mins and it is ready. You can put a little of it through a blender (about 1/3) and put it back in to the whole to make it even creamier.


Lissa Forbes said...

I am so sorry, Sharon. Please, please, please remember that there are people out there who seem to think it's their mission in life to be predators to folks in your situation as well as our youth (credit merchants) and the elderly. We forget because we don't think that way.

I'd be happy to be a bouncing board in situations like this to help you with perspective.

You were wise and good to treat yourself to your favorite creamed corn--your one good thing.

And you can still do your "rites of commemoration" tomorrow! :->

Lots of love.

Mary Lou Hymel said...

Hi Sharon! This is a great coping mechanism. I hope it is helping you. I should have this much ambition!

One other thing you probably already know....never give your credit information to somebody who calls you first. I'm glad you were able to get out of the contract. Legally, a person has 3 business days to cancel any contract!

Hang in there. Keep treating yourself to the little pleasures like the creamed corn. And let us know when you'll be visiting San Antonio. There are extra hugs for you here!
Mary Lou

Jodi said...

I love you.
You have been in-more than one tail-spin.

You can do this because you ARE doing this.

Remember the part where you look back at your life at the end of all things and brush the hair out of your eyes, wipe your forehead and say "What a ride!"?

This is a dark spot, but certainly not the lowest either.

You already know who Sharon just need to do the babystep thing. When Bill was alive and you were "finding Sharon" in DC (e.g. theater), your catalist was Bill; the thing that has changed is that YOU are now your catalist.

You are the strongest, wisest person I get a Harley lesson (think Christmas gift from Bill and the kids) and RIDE!!!!


Jodi said...

Damn it! I knew I spelled catalyst wrong. Now everyone knows what a crappy speller I am!!! Oh well I'll get some coffe now.

Sharon said...

I love you, Jodi! Enjoy the week in the mountains!

Anonymous said...

Sweet Sharon,
I suggest at this time you look to see who is calling before answering the phone. When you do answer you do not have to talk to them just hang up. I had to learn that.
Make a list of past intrests, hobies etc. maybe take up a new hobbie, intrest that gets you around people. Maybe read to the kids at school.
Think of things you always wanted to do "some day".
Wright a list of blessings.
Wright you memories.
Allow yourself to greave, heal.
Remenber you are not alone. Many people love you and are willing to support you.
I'm a list person to see perspective.
I think part of your feeling is you have had to adjust quickly, and there has not been closure. I am proud Bill will be buried at Arlington. I think you will feel a more peace when that is done.
Most important Do not make any big decisions for a year.
If Bill was on Hospice they have information to help you and groups to help you through the greving process.
I also sugest you get out of the house once a day.

You have been many places, and had to adjust to new places, routines etc. In my opinion you are not reinventing yourself, You are re discovering yourself.

I hold you in my thoughts and prayers, and I will see if I have some pamphlets to guide you through this dificult time.

Sharon said...

Dear Cousin Meg,
All very good advice and I will be writing about some of those things in the days to come (In fact, LISTS will be the topic of the Blog today)! Rediscover-reinvent; potato-potahto. LOL! Mostly, I feel like I will be carefully pulling back the layers to see what is underneath. <3

Anonymous said...

You are one of the strongest woman I know and I just know you are going to be okay. I love you dearly and I love the fact that you are doing this blog. I will look forward to reading it everyday.
Big hugs to you