i cruised up central enterance and stopped at the first easily accessible sign of an insurance company. my agent was an older man with glasses and an impressive bomb-shelter quality and quantity of foodstuffs lining the shelves behind his messy desk. bill. he has grandchildren. he is a big fan of duluth central and now has a daughter living in rochester. we chatted. oh, lo, we chatted.
and when it came time for him to type my information into the computer, he did the bifocal bobbing peer at his screen and hunted and pecked his way through my first and last name, social security number and address. by this time we were good enough friends that i wanted to gently touch his upper arm and say softly and without judgement: "bill? do you want me to type that for you? you seem to struggle with the concept of home row?"
dozens of pecks and sighs and squints later i had car insurance, and an insurance agent with a proclivity for easy mac, pop tarts and instant coffee.
together, bill and i worked through my credit issues. as i went from the fbi watchlist to a person who can pay bills in a timely manner more often, unless i forget. and when it became possible for my insurance rate to go down, on account of my better banking behavior, he promised to rerun my numbers for me and e-mail me the new rates.
i spent an extra 20 minutes with my buddy discussing local issues, sharing a few smiles and laughs and ignored the impulse to hug, and left to wait for his email.
he did not email me.
when it came close to the for my monthly insurance chunk to be taken from my checking account, and he'd yet to visit my in-box, i called bill for an update.
"doh!" he said. "it's too late to give you the lower rate this month! come in before the end of next month and we can do it."
"okay," i sighed, knowing that the hapless little stinker had cost me extra money that i did not want to pay again this month. we both pretended it wasn't his fault. we both knew it was.
at the end of last month, i walked into his office and we switched my policy to metlife instead of progressive. the check to metlife went through. and a few days later, progressive withdrew from my account, too. a grand total of a lotta dollars in insurance because good old old home row forgot to cancel my progressive policy.
additionally, when the second policy went through, it caused my checking account to dip seductively into overdrawn. and because i'd not expected that check to go through, i'd continued my life as usual: a coffee at caribou, some groceries, this, that, facial cleanser that makes my face tingle ... so not only did i get one overdraft for the insurance, it came with four additional overdrafts at 34 dollars a shot. one of my favorite things about an overdraft, is paying 34 extra dollars for a cup of coffee that cost $1.96.
i called bill and left a terse message. hey, buddy. did you forget to cancel my progressive policy?
he didn't call me back.
i called him. finally trapped the sucker on the phone. he told me progressive would refund me. i told him about the overdrafts. he said he'd split the overdraft on the insurance payment with me. this meant: for the $136 dollars in overdrafts i accrued because he forgot to cancel the policy? he'd give me $17.
yesterday i realized i'd not yet been reimbursed by progressive and it was the eve of my student loan payment, which comes directly from my checking account. the student loan people don't care if the money is there. they'll take it either way. it can either cost me the standard rate, or it can cost me the standard rate plus and overdraft if i can't cover it.
i called bill.
he wasn't in the office.
i screamed at his partner.
his partner stopped me mid-yelp and said:
"christal? let me stop you for a second. i'd never heard the name christal until today. and now i've had conversations with three in one day. can you believe that? it started when i called ... "
this story goes on.
finally i broke in.
"my name isn't christal," i told him. "it's christa. now. about this progressive thing..."
he explained that he couldn't help me. but he said he understood my venting, because as a salesman, sometimes it is his job to just listen. he told me that if he had 50 million dollars he would give me a million and pay my overdrafts for me. he told me he'd give my message to bill.
bill did not call me back today, either.
progressive did refund my payment, though. not that it helps. i'm already so overdrawn from paying overdrafts that i may have to bust into his office and pillage bill's canned goods. ravioli, saltines. lipton tea bags.
all this because i was trying to save some cash.
mother. effing. home. row.
stay tuned as i a) send bill my letter of recognition from our relationship; b) find a new insurance company. this time, typing ability is not optional.