"I Am in a World of Shit!"

January 1, 2003

Just got back from a week in Akron with my parents... visiting with relatives, getting Christmas presents, generally having a good time.

Welcome home, Jason. Got a letter from American Express that I originally thought was junk mail, but opened anyway. Good thing I did. Contents of the letter: "You wouldn't be getting fucked like this in a maximum security prison." Well, they didn't say that, but it's the effect.

Flash back to last week. The freelancing business was going a little slow, and I had some bills to pay. AmEx sends me some of those convenience checks that they send all their cardholders at the holidays; implicitly saying here, use our card. So I take them up on the offer.

I thought that the checks worked like regular transactions. But they don't; AmEx treats them as cash advances -- at least, that's how they treated this one. I wrote the check for more than my available cash advance balance (which is stupid anyway, but that's another rant). Instead of giving me the limit, they stopped payment on the check.

Except I'd already sent out the bills because they were due over Christmas week. See where this is going?

Back to today. I read the letter and barely manage to not shit my pants. I grab the two checks from DLI that they owed me from October (they came the same day as the "you're fucked" letter, even though I told the post office not to deliver last week) and head to the bank as fast as my Civic can take me. Deposit to primary checking, $xxx.xx.

Account not available. Wha? Must've hit savings instead of checking. Try again. Nothing. Balance inquiry. Nope. And then I realized just how utterly boned I was. I have no idea what National City's done to me, since it's Sunday night, but it can't be good. The bounced-check fees alone will amount to a couple hundred dollars.

And I can't do a goddamn thing about it until tomorrow morning. I wonder how much sleep I'll be getting tonight.

Update, Monday. Answer, not much. Tried to wake up to get to the bank at 9:00 and failed horribly. So I came up with a new plan: I held off on going to the bank until my mail from last week was delivered, to make sure there wasn't anything else wrong.

Nothing else went wrong, so I went to the bank to get the mess sorted out. Nothing had bounced, oddly enough, even though all the checks had cleared and my balance was a largish negative number. I deposited the checks I tried to last night (when the shit hit the fan my MAC card got shut off) and am almost back to even.

So now I just need to avoid making any withdrawls until after the new year, when I should get a couple checks to get me back in the black. All in all, not nearly as horrible as I'd originally feared. It's almost enough to make me believe in a caring, benevolent God, really.

Oh, and the whole transaction-vs.-cash-advance thing... Different credit cards handle this differently, but American Express consideres anything made out to (a) yourself, (b) your spouse, (c) your company or (d) cash to be a cash advance instead of a transaction. So if you should ever find yourself using a similar strategy to get yourself through a slow spot call the credit card company first and see how they'll treat it.

Or just don't mouth off to your boss and get shit-canned in the middle of a slumping economy. That could work out well for you too.

Update, Saturday. Got the last check deposited, so I officially have money again. But the lady who banished my MAC card to purgatory was off late last week so the card still doesn't work. Which is fine, except that I have no cash on me. Wheee...

December 31, 2002January 2, 2003