Today’s lesson in adulting is brought to you by procrastination. I’m not talking about day-to-day, small time procrastination, I’m talking things that you just kind of put off for years until those little things have evolved into Big Deals that bite you in the ass four or ten years later. When the consequence of your procrastination hits you a decade after you avoided the original (probably very simple) action you should have taken, an epiphany occurs…Maybe procrastination is not always an acceptable lifestyle choice.
Yesterday my gas got shut off. I haven’t had utilities shut off since my early twenties if ever. Generally I pay my bills when they’re due. Okay, fine, within a few weeks of when they’re due. My gas bill is no exception; heat and hot water are important especially when you have kids who will complain magnificently when they have to take cold showers. So how did my gas get shut off then?
I had noticed something was off with my gas bill maybe two months ago. It was very high, maybe twice what it would normally be especially this time of year when the weather is getting warmer. Then I found another gas bill behind the bench in my foyer, an older one. I’m not very good about getting the mail off my porch on a daily basis (ahem, procrastination) and sometimes my kids will grab it and toss it just inside the front door onto the bench. Obviously this is not a very efficient system. I figured I had managed to miss a gas bill so I paid it twice in April and went along my merry way until yesterday. I opened the newest bill (after it had been sitting around for about a week) and, Holy Toledo, it was $500! This could not be right. Clearly there was a mix up somewhere along the line. I planned to call and figure it out…right after I went for a run.
When I returned from my run there was a tag hanging on my front door saying my gas had been shut off. Crap! If I called and got it sorted out by 2pm they’d turn it back on same day. I looked at my watch: 2:05pm. Of course.
I did some sleuthing before calling and discovered that the account number on my bill and the one in my bank’s online bill pay system didn’t match. My first reaction was to think the gas company had changed my account number but why would they do that? After much waiting on hold and pressing random buttons I was able to speak to a customer service agent at the gas company. She confirmed that my two April payments had not, in fact, reached my account. I mentioned the discrepancy in account numbers and asked if they had changed mine. She said No, they only give you a new account number if you’ve moved. I’ve been at my current address for almost four years now AND I’ve paid the gas bill online for a while…like, five or six years. There had never been a problem before.
Turns out my last two payments along with a heating tax credit I qualified for were sitting in the account associated with my previous address. Then I remembered seeing something on my bill about my payments being forwarded from account and the previous address listed. I had meant to call and find out what that was about. Like years ago. Or even months ago. But I procrastinated. It seemed like such a little thing. Until it wasn’t and we had to take cold showers for a day.
This wasn’t the first time long past acts of procrastination had caught up with me and given me grief. About a month ago I took my sixteen year old son to the Secretary of State office to get his official driving permit so he could log some supervised driving hours and finish driver’s training. The goal was to get him licensed before school gets out in mid June to make getting a job a little easier for him. Considering he had finished the driver’s training class back in February and I was just now getting his permit we were already behind schedule. When we got to the front of the line I handed our pile of paperwork to the state employee, she glanced through it and handed all the documents back. “I can’t give you a permit today” she said “he needs a new Social Security card.” What??
About ten years ago we went through the legal process of step parent adoption so my then-husband (now ex husband) would be the legal father of our oldest who is not biologically his child. At the end of those proceedings we were given a bunch of paperwork to file away for safe keeping (which I still have in a file folder marked “moving checklist”) and someone probably mumbled something about mailing in a form to get a new birth certificate. And, really, I knew this needed to be taken care of. It had been there, nagging at the edge of my busy mind for the past ten years. Every so often I’d dig out the paperwork and think about it but never actually got around to calling and finding out where the paperwork needed to go. When we needed to show proof of my son’s name change or parentage or anything I’d just whip out the fancy looking Order of Adoption. it worked well enough…until it didn’t. Now, ten years after I should have mailed the damn paperwork, we have to wait another four to six weeks (plus a little time for procrastination) for a new birth certificate so we can go get an updated social security card so the kid can get his stinking driving permit. The new goal is to get him driving by his seventeenth birthday in late July. Maybe I should push that back to his eighteenth just for good measure…
The moral of these stories is Just do it! Mail the freakin check, call on that bill, follow up on the mundane day-to-day, bullshit details of life. Why? because nobody likes cold showers, even for one day.