"You can pull your hair out over it, but then you'll just have a bald head."
That was a favorite saying of an older lady friend who I worked with years ago.
It's only Thursday, but it's the end of my "work" week. And I'm ready for it. By Monday night I was feeling stressed and the week had only begun!
For starters, our central air conditioning died (again). It's only 3 years old, and we've had to call the Company back several times since it was installed. Each time, they added more coolant and it worked again, for a while. Being a very reputable Company in our area, they have not charged us a penny for all these service visits. They knew there was a leak somewhere, and said when it got "big enough" they would be able to find it.
Not only did I have to deal with a hot house on Monday, but we also lost our land line and internet service! I mean it went totally dead. At first I thought it was just something acting up with our internet router, because we've had problems with it dropping the signal (too often!). I was irritated because I had bills to pay and like most of us, I've become pretty internet dependent. Techy that I'm not, I played around with everything I could think of and finally realized I had no internet because I had no phone service. Going to a library or other public place to use the free wireless was not an option, as I had the two grandkids here for the day.
So, I called the phone company, only to be made aware that things aren't like they were in the "old days" when you could call a local number and they would tell you if they were experiencing problems in your area. Now you don't even get to talk to a real person. I listened to all the options and of course none of them really applied. Eventually, without talking to a single living soul, I was able to file a service complaint and was "told" the problem would be fixed by Thursday night. I was also "told" the minimum charge, if the problem was found to be in my house, would be about $75! I felt trapped, like a caged animal. What choice did I have?
So while I was dealing with household matters anyway, and utilities in particular, I decided to call the gas company and complain about the $800+ credit that was building up on our account. I've always preferred paying with the budget system because we can have some pretty unpredictable winters here in NE Ohio, and while I sure like to be cool in the summer, I equally love to be warm in winter, and that can get expensive! So I pay a "budget" amount based on past usage, and the gas company has always adjusted it periodically to keep it in line. I knew the credit they were showing was totally unreasonable, and I finally had a chance last weekend to look over my past bills. I added up the "actual" charges for the previous twelve month period, and found the average to be just about $100 per month less than what the gas company is currently saying. I don't know about you, but that's a lot of money to me.
I suddenly felt empowered instead of trapped, and made the call (think napping children). I put up with all the computer generated options until I finally got a real person on the line. I told them I wanted off their budget plan and why, and that thank you very much, but I will figure out my own budget. Then I asked them to please cut me a check and send me back my money they were holding on to. All of a sudden, the customer service person couldn't help me anymore, because, guess what? My name wasn't on the account. My husband would have to call them (from work) and he is not nearly as patient as I am (LOL). But for $800, he did it. And supposedly we will get our money back in about two weeks.
Thus ended my Monday. Well, not quite. Hubby had an equally rough day at work and ended up having to stay (very) late at the office. Had our internet been working, he could have brought the extra work home. Frustrating, since he works an hour's drive away. Let's just say we finally ate supper at 10 pm, I left the dirty dishes, and we went to bed!
Tuesday came, and it was not a babysitting day, so even though I had no air conditioning and no internet, I was able to sit at the kitchen table and work on the bills and overhauling our family budget the old-fashioned way--with a pen and a calculator--while I waited for the air conditioning company to come out. They said they'd arrive between 9 am and 12 noon, and by golly, the serviceman arrived shortly after 9. I continued to work at the table for the next three hours until I heard a piercing "beep, beep, beep" and realized it meant the coolant leak was found! It was only a short time later that the house began to cool off again. Yippee! And for "no charge".
Still, I thought it would be a good opportunity to go off to Border's or some place and take my laptop with me. I needed a "fix" like a druggie needs heroine, I'm ashamed to say. No email access, no Twitter, no Facebook, no blogging--it was driving me crazy. Since I began babysitting grandchildren three days a week, and helping to care for my fairly recently widowed and legally blind mom on the other two days, the computer has really become my connection to the outside world. So off I went, and I nursed a cup of coffee for a couple of hours while I had some much needed "time out".
Wednesday came, and I got the kids again. We picked my mom up and we all ended up having a great day. By the time I took everybody home, I still had enough energy to stop for some groceries and come home and make supper. In spite of still not having the phone or the internet, we had a comfortable house. I guess air conditioning trumps the internet, though it's close (smile). My attitude is starting to improve...
Thursday, today, the phone company repairman called. He said he was just around the corner and would be right over. I was in the middle of feeding the grandkids breakfast and I was feeling a mixture of hope and dread. What would he find the problem to be? Would it be something really simple that we should have been able to fix ourselves (like the time my hubby called the computer repair service at work only to find out he didn't have the thing plugged in) and end up having to pay the $75+? The young man was so friendly when I answered the doorbell that he completely put me at ease. There really IS something about dealing with a problem face-to-face with a real human being. I knew it would be alright no matter what. He explained what he would be doing outside, and assured me if I saw his truck leave, he was just going around the corner to the utility box and he'd be back. And he was, within several minutes. The problem was solved just like "that" and no charge to us.
On Monday night, one of my sisters happened to stop over and she was telling me how she had been to calling hours for the son of someone she works with. The young man had a troubled history, and had moved back home, but was not getting along with his mom. The parents decided to go away for the weekend to get away from the stress of it all. While gone, they received an emergency call that their house was on fire. Firefighters responded, but were unaware the young man was in an upstairs room, passed out from drugs or alcohol, and he died.
Now that I am past all the "crises" of my week and have had a chance to reflect, things are coming into perspective. Yes, I was inconvenienced. No, life isn't always fair. But my problems were so minor by comparison, and they were able to be fixed. I can only imagine the grief and pain this family will live with for a long time to come. I hope you will join me in saying a prayer for them.
Hopefully the next time my life is interrupted by some inconvenience, I will remember how blessed I really am. All the stuff that so consumed my thoughts, energy, and time this past week were just temporary annoyances in the eternal scheme of things. How sad that we have come to think of modern conveniences to be almost life and death matters! What really will count in the long run is, was I kind to the people whose paths crossed mine this week? Was I patient? Did I take the time to show love to anyone at all?
Here is a quote that I've frequently seen on Facebook. I don't know who the original author is, but it sure rings true: "Be kinder than necessary for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." ~~II Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV
*I was just ready to publish this, and the phone rang. Hubby has a flat tire...I'm not kidding...