A Costly Milestone

I recently reached another adult milestone. I’m calling it a “milestone” because I want to reassure myself that this happens to other people, and that this is indeed some sort of way of life in adulthood.

Or, as my dad would tell me, “I’m rationalizing.”

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up and checked my bank account only to find that I had exactly $0.00 to my name. Now, I’ve never been good with numbers, but I couldn’t help but marvel at my ability to have selected such a perfectly priced item. How often do people bring their bank accounts down to exactly $0.00? Surely that was some sort of feat. Thank goodness I’d gotten two beers instead of one the night before! I patted myself on the back for a job well-done and logged into my mobile banking account to transfer some funds.

As the page loaded, I took a moment to reflect on how mature I was being in catching a near costly mistake. “How responsible of me!” I thought. “How adult!” But when my account balance finally appeared, I saw a strange charge for “overdraft protection,” and all sense of accomplishment, pride and maturity vanished.

I began to freak out. Overdraft protection? What does that even mean? And how could I have so little money? Surprisingly, even after a slew of unpaid internships and lasting commitment to organic produce, I’d never seen my account balance so low.

I then realized that this could only mean one thing: I was a delinquent, an Overdrafter. And I’d wronged the Man. I started to contemplate what my life would look like as a newly anointed criminal. Oddly enough, my likelihood of surviving in jail comes up in more conversations than you’d think (the general consensus is that I wouldn’t do well, unless gluten-free snacks and Eucerin Cream make it into our prison systems).

Pish Posh Joan

Interval training with m’Lady.

I pushed the thought of jail far from my mind and considered the other possible consequences. With imprisonment out of the picture, surely this meant that someone would soon come to repossess my belongings, the most valuable of include Lady Joan (my cat) and my Keurig. My Keurig I could do without, but Joan? Joan would never survive without me. Nor I without her. She–not unlike her mom–is a very delicate creature. She requires organic, grain-free food, a finger to nurse on, and gentle yet regular interval training. Who would be able to support such a regal lifestyle? I cursed myself for not having named a Godmother. Now, it was up to the bank to decide her fate.

Long may she rein.

The Lady and her keep.

Perhaps I’ll get a side-job to recover some funds, I thought. I used to be a fairly decent lawn mower which, like golf, is a skill fit for any stage of life. It’s sustainable, it’s active, and it’s engaging — no two lawns are the same. I decided to start slow and pitch the idea to my parents. After all, they were my original clients. I used to charge them about $20/mow, plus an additional 25-cents per dog poop scooped. Considering inflation and the influx of animals in their yard, my 2014 rate would come to about $75/mow. $100 extra for animal carcass removal.

While I’ve yet to pitch my parents on becoming their landscaper, I am confident that I’ll emerge from this trial a better person. And if not a better person, perhaps a more fiscally responsible person. Although secretly, I’m writing this blog post in hopes that my parents will read it and send me some money. (Mom —  if not for me, do it for Joan.)

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