A Tongue in Cheek Look at my Fascination with Having a Title to My Name
| My fascination with making it in this world was to earn a professional title to my name as a measure of success. This fascination started at our sixth grade graduation ceremony fifty-seven years ago when I was twelve years old.
It happened this way. Our homeroom teacher prepared a graduation program culminating with all graduates marching on stage, carrying poster-size name tags with professional titles to our names: Doctor, nurse, engineer, lawyer, teacher, minister, governor, senator, mayor, judge, counselor, ad infinitum. She was careful to assign everyone a title that fit each one’s personality and potentials. For some reason unknown, she did not assign me one. I felt left out, to say the least; but, I hid my disappointment. What’s the big deal? It’s only a program. Someday, I’ll show this teacher what my title will be for real, I encouraged my fainting spirit.
Indeed, that letdown was a turning point in my quest for a place in the sun. From high school through my college years, I studied diligently with the goal to earn a title. A nurse? No. A teacher? Maybe. A journalist? Hmm, that’s more to my liking. How about a lawyer? That’s much better. A lawyer and a writer might go hand in hand…
With diligence, I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts, majoring in English with a minor in psychology after ten years of combining work and study. I gave myself a pat on the back for my accomplishment; but, wait a minute. What’s my title? A college graduate? That won’t work. This is telling me I’m just half-way there. I need to keep plugging to catch that elusive dream I’ve longed to claim as my crowning glory.
Things did not materialize according to my simplistic plans, though, because my journey took a turn. A turn that landed me where I am today. See, right after graduation, my Connecticut Yankee pen pal, came, kissed me, and swept me off my feet, as the proverbial saying goes. He flew back home to Waterbury Connecticut from the Philippine Islands with me as his bride.
Along the way, he encouraged me to pursue my dream, but having children took over my priorities once I became his wife. It was also a time when our country was hit with a recession, and one income did not cut it anymore. To supplement our family income, I worked, putting my writing career and dream of becoming a lawyer way behind everything else. I have worked several jobs and my job I retired from, after twenty-five years, was as a clerk for the Superior Court.
Being a retired Independent Calendar Clerk was not what I envisioned my title would be that would impress anyone, much less my sixth Grade teacher; albeit, she’s long gone. Something deep inside tells me I have not arrive. I have resigned to the fact that the flickering ember is now extinct or close to it.
Then, one day, I found myself taking care of mother’s affairs because she was getting on in years and needs assistance.
At ninety-one years old, she has severe hearing loss and her mental faculties had slowed down considerably, getting confused in handling her monthly bills and daily routine. In fact, her gas and electricity bill had an $810.09 credit because she had been overpaying for at least a year.
The first time Mama showed me her bill, she was frantic because it indicated that she was late and her payment did not catch up to the due date. I looked it over and asked her when she mails her payment. “I mail it on the due date,” she said.
“Mama, mail your payment before the due date. Because your due date is the 10th of the month, mail it on the first of the month. If you mail it on the 10th, you’re already late,” I explained.
She finally caught up with her payments but overpaid as a result. She did not understand what a minus means showing before the payment due figure. She panicked and sent a payment which was not due. Every month she was overpaying even with the “No Payment Due” notice. By my calculation, she did not have to pay for the next five years inasmuch as her monthly payment only averaged from $12 to $16. Had I not discovered this huge discrepancy, she would have paid another $810.09 this month, re-doubling the credit. When I contacted SDG&E about this, I was told they would not honor my communication because the account is not in my name.
Putting that issue aside, I have to mention that I periodically go to the bank to withdraw money for her from the ATM machine using her ATM card. It saves me time and gas to swing by the bank before proceeding to her apartment. This got me in trouble the last time I did it. I was trying to withdraw from her savings account. Instead, the money came out from her checking account. I was rattled when I saw a zero balance in her checking account because I knew that she issued checks to pay her bills and they will bounce when they hit the bank. I went inside to explain. I re-deposited the $500 I had withdrawn and asked if I can take the money from savings instead. The teller would not let me do it because the account is not in my name. I just committed a crime! No, she did not tell me that but the way she talked to me gave me that implication. I left empty-handed and told my mother what happened. Despite the encumbrance, I took Mama with me to the bank to fix the problem. I had no choice. The bank manager was skeptical about my handling of my mother’s financial affairs and suggested I obtain a Power of Attorney on my mother’s behalf. She handed me forms to fill out.
Finally, what is most unfortunate is that my mother is being taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals. Here’s an example of what happened that same week I was having issues with the bank. A seventy-ish Filipina befriended her at the bus stop. Being the friendly, pleasant and spiritual lady she is, she opened her heart and her home to this woman. At first, she kept this to herself, knowing I would give her an earful if I knew what new friendships she gained from riding the bus. Telling her to be wary about strangers because we don’t know what their motivations are, she replied, “Well, it’s my opportunity to share the good news of salvation. Angels in heaven will be singing if I can win one soul to Jesus feet.”
“So, did you win her over? Instead, she stole your money in your fanny-pack, took ten checks from your checkbook, and took your jewelry. You’re too trusting. Now we have to make a police report in the hopes we can retrieve them. I bet, she’ll never show her face here again,” I pointed out.
Well, anyway, before I go further and lose your undivided attention, let me tell you how these incidents relate to my elusive quest for a title. I was compelled to prepare a Durable Power of Attorney on my mother’s behalf in order to manage and conduct all her affairs. In effect, as her agent, I earned the title, “Attorney-in-fact.”
Regarding my mother’s $810.09 overpayment to SDG&E, I sent a copy of my Durable Power of Atty. Only then, did SDG&E issue a refund.
At the end of the day, I can finally say, “Arrived!”