Christmas Card

It’s definitely the best time of year for mail, what with cards, letters, and presents stuffing my mailbox. Every day, there’s something new and fun, instead of just bills. Today’s mail was best of all, with a brand new shiny gold check card!

Before you think that’s nothing to get excited about, especially considering that today’s mail did include presents and a totally gorgeous handmade card, complete with red ribbon, I’ll tell you a story.

Last week, I ventured to downtown Oakland to return a couple of things a friend had left behind. She works at the venerable Ratto’s International Market, which has been in the same family and same location since 1897, so I figured I’d drop her things off, pick up one of their famous sandwiches, and get some stocking stuffers while I was at it.

I turned the wrong way off Broadway and saw a branch of my bank. I decided to deposit my paycheck and get some money before going to the deli. I tried twice to deposit my check, and the card was rejected. I went into the bank, and was told that my card had – gasp! – been cancelled.

Now, I had called a couple of weeks ago to ask when I’d get my new card, since the old one expires in January. I was told it was on its way. When it didn’t show up, I called again and they said I should have received it, so they’d cancel the replacement card and issue a new one, which I may or may not get by Christmas Eve. Apparently, they also cancelled my current card.

The teller actually cut my card into little shiny pieces. I can’t tell you how horrifying this is. Not only do you feel totally embarrassed (and convinced that everyone is staring at you and wondering what you’ve done to lose all card privileges), but you realize the convenience vanishes along with the card. I’ll have to actually go into the bank and fill out one of those slips of paper and show them ID before I can get money – and I can’t get money on Sundays! I’ll have to give the gas station guy money and then go out and put the gas in the car! What about Christmas shopping?

The horror, the horror!

Good thing I went the wrong way. It would have been mortifying to be unable to pay for my sandwich. Almost as bad as having my card cut up in front of me.

So I took out a bunch of cash and hoped for the best, which actually happened for once. And just in time to head out of town tomorrow.

Maybe I’m going to get that Barbie after all!

12 Step 2

Hello, my name is Suzy, and I’m an Etsy addict.

Not a day goes by that I’m not checking them out, adding items to my favorites, and sometimes even buying one or two. It’s online window shopping – all the fun and none of the crowds. With the new austerity, it’s nice to know that a girl can buy herself something cheap and cheerful for under $10. And it’s even better knowing that the item is handmade and/or unique. By the time it arrives in the mail (along with the usual batch-o-bills), it’s like a present!

My morning fix is the daily Etsy email newsletter. I try and guess which item might be sold out, and I’m ridiculously pleased with myself if I guess correctly. It’s a variation on the game I play with the estate jewelry ads in the “New Yorker”. I pick the item I would buy if money was no object (an even more unlikely scenario than usual under the new austerity regime), and it is almost invariably the most expensive* one.

A variation on these games is the one my sister and I play when there is a particularly ugly window display. “If you had to pick one, what would you pick?” Never mind the fact that no-one has ever forced me to shop, and the possibility of this happening is remote. It’s still fun. Then we compare and decide whose choice is the least hideous.

It’s the little things in life. And the ones that make you laugh. Or imagine an alternative existence. Or just make you happy.

*A friend once observed that of all the people she knows, I’m the one that should be rich. I have to agree.