The house phone rang yesterday evening and my husband picked it up.
“Tedra, did you pay the mortgage this month?!?”
“The credit union says it wasn’t paid.”
I am elbow-deep in boiling sugar water and orange peel. “Take a number and I’ll call them back tomorrow.”
“No! This has to be dealt with now!”
My husband gets incredibly stressed out and accusatory about money things. It tends to piss me off, since I’m the one that handles the bills. “Look, I can’t deal with it now. I have to get online and check the account or call the [other] bank and see if I can figure out what happened, and I’m in the middle of something else.”
My husband takes the phone into the other room with him. Obviously he’s going to try to handle it now even though he’s not the one with the records. I roll my eyes and turn down the simmering orange peel, wash my hands, go over to my netbook and log into my bank account. I pull up the record that shows that the mortgage payment to the credit union went through on Dec. 6th, complete with confirmation #s and everything, and take the netbook into the tv room, where he is cradling the phone on his shoulder while looking at his computer screen and trying to figure this out.
“Here,” I say dryly, putting my netbook in front of him. “I paid the mortgage on Dec. 6th.” I go back to my cooking.
I can hear him saying things like, “well, I’m looking at my wife’s account right here and it says it went through. $2700.” Pause. Rising, angry voice, “what do you mean? I don’t understand. You said we hadn’t paid the mortgage and now you’re saying you can see that payment? . . . That was the last month’s payment?”
“Sweetie, please take the number and tell him I will call him back tomorrow. I have to figure this out and the bank is closed right now.”
“No! He wants to deal with it right now!”
I’m thinking that the poor bastard who placed this call is probably really wanting not to deal with this right now, but I don’t say anything. I go back into the tv room and take my netbook back. I pull up the records of the additional $450 mortgage payment I made on the same day, and the record of the mortgage payment I made at the beginning of November.
Let me digress here briefly to explain what that extra $450 was for. We got a similar call last month which took several days and hours on the phone to resolve and led to a fair bit of stress between me and my husband (and this blog post, actually). The upshot was that there’d been some “supplementary tax” (thanks, Prop 13!) of $5000 that I’d mistakenly conflated with the regular property tax and assumed the credit union was paying out of the mortgage; since I didn’t pay it, it went to the CU and they did indeed pay it–out of escrow. So I’d underpaid the November mortgage which had magically gone up in order to recoup the escrow money. We amortized the missing $5k over three years, plus another $1500 which I understood at the time but no longer remember the reason for, and our mortgage is now about $450 more than it was two months ago, so when I made the December payment I also made an extra $450 payment for November.
And now the credit union is calling three days before Xmas and freaking my husband out about the possibility that we’re three thousand in the hole. My husband is yelling at PK to turn the tv off, PK is yelling that he was there first, I’m turning the orange peel back down and going into the tv room to call PK into the kitchen and explain to him that Papa gets very stressed about these money things and it really would be best if he would just pause his movie and find something else to do for a while, please. PK grumpily complies and I ask Mr. B. if I can have my netbook back to check the recipe I’m using. Of course I can’t, so I leave the room again.
This is the kind of situation I was talking about in the previous post. I am being the calm, non-reactive wife despite my husband’s rising stress level and his yelling at PK and me; I’m trying to get him to disengage from the problem and let me handle it when I can; I’m deliberately keeping my voice calm and accepting the way he is doing things even though listening to him say things like “you just told me I have to talk to a mortgage specialist. Now you are saying I need to talk to escrow. But I don’t even know what that is. You are the one who called me, and you’re telling me you don’t know why it shows that my account hasn’t been paid, but I want to know what is going on!” is making me want to just hang the phone up myself and then explain to him the difference between the guy going down the goddamn list and making the calls after banking hours and an actual goddamn banker.
But I’m not doing those things and I’m successfully managing to fake a calm and assurance that I’m not entirely feeling myself–what if the payment somehow went awry? I’m down to about $100 in my account right now!–in a futile attempt to reassure my husband and forestall the possibility that he will unleash his frustration on me and we’ll get into another goddamn fight about whether or not I handle the bills correctly (but he doesn’t want to start paying them himself, and frankly I don’t want that either, since it always takes him three days and means there are piles and piles of paper all over the room that no one is allowed to touch).
After about an hour, he gets off the phone and says that he was given the number to call tomorrow. I bite my tongue and say only, “okay, good.” He says he will make that call tomorrow and solve the problem before I wake up. I am fine with this, since I hate dealing with phone calls and as long as I don’t have to listen to him shouting on the phone I don’t care.
This morning (okay, more like noon–sue me), he comes into the bedroom and wakes me up by saying that he just got off the phone with the credit union and they can see that all the payments were made, and they will call him back in fifteen minutes after they try to figure out what happened and why they’re showing a problem. I ask if the coffee is made. He says it is, so I get up.
Fifteen minutes later I am making PK a sandwich (“I’m hungry, Mama”) and my husband is asking me, in his stressed, accusatory voice, why haven’t they called back yet?!?
“Um, because it’s taking longer to figure out than he thought? Because he’s at work and has other things he’s also trying to do? Because he didn’t set a timer the moment he got off the phone with you? God. Find something else to fret about for a while.” I am losing my temper.
“I’m going to call them back.”
He calls back and asks to talk to Sam in the mortgage department. I hear him leaving his number and asking Sam to call back. I bite my tongue.
Sam calls back.
In the end, what apparently happened is that whoever told us we were short $450 for November miscalculated by about $25. So we were about $25 short for November, which they deducted from the December mortgage payment. But apparently, since the December mortgage payment was now itself short, instead of crediting our account they put that payment into “an account they don’t call limbo, but they might as well,” my husband says; basically it just sits there until, apparently, someone from the collections department calls to ask why the hell we haven’t paid our bill this month. My husband, of course, wants to pay the missing $25 right now, while he has Sam on the phone, but they can’t do it via a debit card–he needs my checkbook. No, I can’t just use the online bill pay to do it. He wants to pay it right now. I go to look for my checkbook.
My husband, who now that the problem has turned out to be no big deal, is feeling kind of abashed, says “that’s okay, honey–I found mine.” Only his doesn’t have any checks from our current bank, which took over when our old bank failed during the great financial crisis of ’08. I hear him explaining to Sam that the bank told him (two years ago) that those checks would still work. Then he calls to me and asks if I have any checks from our current bank.
“Yes, I’ll look for my checkbook. I’m not sure where it is, though, so it might take a bit. . .”
“That’s okay, I’ll just do this.”
The moral of the story is that banks and credit unions are evil homewreckers. In both senses of the word.