Thursday, December 09, 2004

401 k- Arizona style

I am somewhat retired now.

Not by choice, I just can’t seem to get hired. I have applied at many businesses around here, and most of the people I talk to really seem interested. They like my qualifications, they like my experience, we really hit it off.

Then, when we review my work history, specifically the past wages area and duties, we hit a brick wall.

In CA dollars I didn’t make a whole lot, we were doing Ok, paid the bills, saved a little, but – take those dollars and translate them to Yavapai County money and they say, “woe- we can’t pay that.”

I say that’s OK- I will take whatever you are offering.

Then my work history- mostly supervisor and manager stuff- “well, we only have entry level positions available”. That’s Ok, I’ll take whatever you are offering.

These initial interviews are usually followed up by a letter or phone call explaining that “We have decided to fill the position with a candidate more suited to the current opening we have. However, if a management or supervisory position opens in the future, we will keep your resume on file for blah blah blah blah…” or something like that.

I know the problem. Sad to say, there was a time when I looked at prospective employees in the same manner. The feeling is that as soon as a better position comes along, the new hire will jump ship. But I always addressed that issue and gave the prospect the benefit of the doubt.

So I wait.

While I wait, I found out that I have something I haven’t had in a long time- Free Time.

This is not something I’m used to. For most of the past 15 or 20 years I spent most of my time at work. For the most part, I enjoyed my jobs and most of the people I worked with, so I stayed there. Much of my social activity was with folks I worked with.

Now, I have free time.

It pays though. Yesterday I decided to tune up the washer and dryer. I removed all the panels, removed all the screws and bolts and gave the machines a good cleaning; getting rid of all the lint and soap residue and gunk that can accumulate over the years.

This is a washing machine/dryer set that me or my family has owned since it was new. My mom bought it a few years after I graduated High School and gave it to me when I got married. They’re old, but work great.

So I performed an autopsy on the machines CSI style and found some interesting things.

Among the usual lint and junk, I found the following:
  • 3 fish hooks and leaders- I haven’t fished since 1991
  • 11 plastic guitar picks- 7 generic, 4 Fender- I have never owned a guitar pick
  • 17 buttons-4 cloth, 7 plastic, 2 wood, 3 metal, and one that looks like some kind of bone. How have my pants been held up all these years?
  • 2 books of matches- 1 from a Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero, CA- nice place, and 1 asking if I have trouble with skin rash- I don’t. The one from Duarte’s still lights, so I kept it.
  • 1 tank top/muscle T type thing. Blue with white letters that says “Roid Free”. I do not know where this came from or how it got between the washer drum thingy where you put your clothes and the rear panel. It’s a size small if you want it.
  • 3 miller High life bottle caps.
  • $1.98- 3 quarters, 8 dimes, 5 nickels and 18 pennies.


So, in my retirement fund I now have 1.98 and a small tank top. And my pants are guaranteed to stay up.

I have also found that if I actually spend time reading my credit card and cell phone bills I find things like “Miscellaneous fee” and stuff like that- .75 cents here, $1.20 there, so I called my credit card companies to find out what they were.

The first card had a total of 4.78 cents in “Assistance Charges” I Called to ask what those “Assistances” were. I was told that this was in the event that I needed to call the credit card company for assistance, say if I was lost and needed directions or a phone number, or if I wanted to use there operator to find a phone number or make a dinner reservation for me.

I asked if I had done this and was told “No, but the service is there if you need it.” I asked if this was a subscription I needed to sign up for, I was told “No, but the service is there if you need it.”

I said I didn’t need it. The charges were reversed.

Retirement fund total: $6.76, pants that don’t fall down, and a blue tank top.

The next card I checked had a $47.00 “late fee” assessed. I went online to check my bank statement and found that the last payment was received and processed by the card people on November 15th by electronic transfer. It was due on November 20thth. They credited my account on November 29th- 14 days after they received the money.

There was also an “over the limit fee” of $62.00. This fee was assessed because on November 24th, 9 days after they took my money but 5 days before they finished playing with it, I spent $9.64 cents at the Safeway on some ice cream, bread, and soda.

I used this card quite a bit in November, so I knew I was running close to my limit, and sure enough, the $47.00 late fee, along with the $9.64 ice cream run put me $7.52 cents over limit. Which would not have happened if they processed my payment when they actually had the cash.

I called and asked why they took so long. The operator, Lance stated that this was highly irregular and all late and over limit fees would be refunded, All I had to do was to pay them, along with another “Service fee” of $25.00 and the who0le thing would be credited to my December bill.

What was the $25.00 “Service fee” for? This was, and I’m not joking, a telephone charge that I would have to pay for calling and being told that the credit card company had made a mistake and over charged me.

After much screaming all fees, the 25, the 47, and the 62 would be reversed.

This brings my total 401 k to $140.76, nice fitting pants, and a muscle T.

Next was my cell bill- Time and mental health do not allow me to get into the exact details, but it involves a news and sports text message service that was evidently subscribed to by the guy who used to own this number before I got it, several months of late charges that he did not pay, a customer service department that can neither add nor read a calendar. Nextel's Billing department wants me to pay $484.36 cents to them now on a bill they acknowledge should only be $96.69, with the assurance that as soon as this gets figured out they will happily refund me all that I over paid.

I have now, at least as of 0945 this morning, been assured that the $387.67 difference will be removed as soon as the billing department gets back from re-hab.

This brings my grand total to $528.43, pants that won’t fall down, and a Roid Free tank top.

Not a bad day’s work if you ask me.

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