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Monday, February 24, 2003

The February paradox is that it's the suckiest month of the year and also the shortest. The brevity doesn't easy the suckiness, however. It only increases it.

In February you don't get your money's worth. You pay the same rent as every other month, but you only get 28 days of walls and ceiling for your money. It doesn't seem to matter to the phone company that you get only 28 days of service for the same monthly rate you paid for 31 days in January. In fact, if they could think of a reason, they'd charge you extra. A short-month fee, or something like that.

An insidious corollary to this phenomenon is the fact that the first of March comes up hella faster than you're used to. December and January drag on forever and then boom! It's March first! You're used to writing your rent check on the 30th or 31st, right? Don't try that in February.

Still, it's probably not that hard to remember to pay the rent, even in February. It's easier than remembering to pay someone who forgets to send you a bill. Let's say a credit card company has a regular date for sending out its statements late in one month and a regular due date early in the next.

And for the sake of argument, let's suppose they're pretty strict about being paid on time. Credit cards are issued by banks, after all, and they're not known for their empathy. Or their conscience, for that matter. If their payment arrives one second after midnight, they jump on you like a rabid ferret and start adding fees and penalties and little pink notices to your account.

As I was paying the company bills today, I was already seeing the battle ahead. I'll fight, and I'll win a one here and there. I know how to write letters that'll play on the conscience of whatever low-level clerk reads them, even if they don't have any impact on the institution itself. Small consolation, but every so often I get money back.

It's the bills I know are coming, the ones that haven't arrived but will have due dates early next week, that are worrying me now. It's almost as if they want me to fail. I know that can't be true, but I also know that they make their money off people who don't pay on time. Maybe that's why they hate me. I always try to do the right thing.

Actually, I don't much care about right and wrong where banks are concerned, because they find new ways to screw their customers over every time they have a corporate meeting. New fees, higher finance charges, shorter time limits, double dipping — it's all part of the game they play. They've taught me not to have a conscience.

But the Boss hates to see us pay late fees. He'd rather borrow from one credit card at a high rate to pay off another card with a lower rate, instead of biting the bullet and paying the fee. It's one of those quirks that I have no argument against. I just go along with it, doing the best I can to do things his way. I know I'll hear about it if I let one slip by, and that's liable to happen some time in March, after he gets a chance to look at the February statements.

I hate February. I wish it was over. Only not so soon.

looking northeast

A cloudy day.

The Boss has decided that this week is a good time to be out of his office. He's traveling all week. He called me from Las Vegas today. He'll be in Phoenix later in the week. We have no business going on in either of those places, as far as I know. And it's not like a vacation for either of us, because as soon as he gets to his hotel room he sets up his fax machine and starts spewing paperwork in my direction, all at much higher phone rates than we get from office to office. Maybe it makes sense to him.

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Welcome back, John Bailey. And congratulations on the new house.

Happy birthday, Rachel.

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