Ever had those days? Rise early with a fogged, sleep-walker’s mind—7:30 AM I am out the door to drive 20 miles to Vermont Quick Lube in Barre to finish work on my car and the inspection, which I had paid for. I had an appointment and they reserved a car for me for the day.
When I parked and went to pick up the loaner they said they let someone else have it! My whole day was planned around this appointment. They wanted me to reschedule but perhaps they would double up on this trick. I shouldered my pack and went home. An experienced mechanic recently set up on the Route 100 Sunoco station in Waterbury, Andrew Atwood, and I went to him. $50 an hour. He fixed up my car, replaced the tirods and ball joints, muffler and pipe, (“damaged, he said, because of our whacky roads.”) fixed the e-brake (had it repaired two years ago for $120 and never used it!), coated the underside and finished the Vermont state inspection for $40. (Vermont Quick Lube had charged me $50 and said I would get the inspection sticker when they finished the work, which they never did.)
So I went home to other problems. A credit card had disappeared and I searched the house and finally called Visa and blocked it. Then Visa told me my debit card, which is in my wallet, was being fraudulently used! It had been hacked from a restaurant, a gas pump, or by international thieves stealing thousands of cc information from online customers who gave their information to large corporations. Both cards were cancelled.
Visa told me I would get the money back (about $1,100 including a trip to Vegas), which happened promptly but the new cards would not be in my possession for another seven days.
Well, I had that high interest Capital Card. I could use that and I did, for a $12 lunch at Maxi’s, a local and very good cafe. I go there and read Seven Days or online newspapers on my iPhone. Well, that afternoon when I couldn’t find the Capital card, not between the seats in my car, not in any pocket. So I made a running history of my cc uses and the last I used it was at Maxi’s. I called them up and they said yes, they had it!
I drove down, picked up I thought was my Capital card and was using it for some groceries in another store and they told me the card was reported lost! I looked at it and damn, it was my old Visa card, the one I blocked. The Capital card was still on the loose. I thought about it and realized that maybe Maxi’s had both my credit cards.
I called Maxi’s and yes, they also had the Capital Card. Both of them. Now I was wondering. I drove down again and picked it up and had a short conversation with a waitress. She said it happened all the time and went in the cash register and held up a stack of 20 or so cards.
God almighty I thought, this is a gold mine for the wrong person. I think the waitresses in Maxi’s are honest and perhaps naive in the various ways there is to skin a mottled, absent-minded cat. But still, if this happens at Maxi’s, how many other restaurants had this black treasure in their cash register? What do they do to make sure their customers do not forget their cards?
Well, I solved my case of the missing cards and went home to a drink. My workday was shot, the stress of up and then down left me listless, with a mind not only fogged but addled. Get off the credit cards, if you can.
I spend many days, it seems, changing passwords, reading and deleting email I don’t want, worrying who would scam me next. I had three robberies in the last six months, appliance repair people that charged too much for something they fixed but they didn’t, banks that have no use for self -employed older people, a culture curdling up from downstate. The morality we are known for, erodes. We reel from taxes, fees and energy costs.
It feels as though there is no place in the new Vermont for creative and self employed people unless they figure out how to make $95 an hour for fixing a furnace or a leak.
Yes, the answer is to go to a cabin, go off line, shun credit cards if you can, grow your own, make cider, become a nouveau hippy. Or move south to the warm states, as so many Vermonters are doing. Vermont’s well constructed culture is crumbling.