By Arlene Appelrouth | firstname.lastname@example.org
People can be categorized in so many ways. Democratic or Republican, believers or nonbelievers, rich or poor, organized or disorganized, detail-oriented or detail-averse.
I rebel against details and am deadline-averse. Fortunately, I married a man who was detail-oriented and organized. He always had my back, helping me hide my character trait.
Now I’m on my own, discovering it’s time to change or pay the price. So far I’m paying the price.
My mail piled up for three months after my husband fell off a bicycle, went to a hospital and then a rehab facility, where another fall landed him in the ICU at Grady Memorial Hospital, where he died.
His demise was a shock and a tragedy.
During his illness, handling the mail and paying the bills were the last things on my mind.
At first I was lucky to find a neighbor willing to sort through the mail and help organize the bills and write the checks.
This task became my husband’s responsibility after our third child was born, soon after we moved to Atlanta. Dan was building his private solo practice as a rheumatologist and had five part-time jobs. I was taking care of our preschoolers and handling the bills.
Georgia Power didn’t care who was doing what or how busy each of us was. It turned off the heat in our Sandy Springs home because I neglected to pay the bill on time.
I lucked out because the person I spoke to at Georgia Power responded with compassion when I told her I was new to Atlanta and overwhelmed because I had three children under the age of 5, the youngest a newborn. The heat was turned back on, and I passed the checkbook to my dear husband, Dan.
Today that newborn is a 38-year-old rabbi, so I can hardly tell the bill collectors my lack of payment is a result of juggling child care and bill paying.
But I have told more than one of the debt collectors that I’m a recent widow, overwhelmed with trying to adjust and not a quick study when it comes to writing checks and paying my bills on time.
As a baby boomer born at the end of June, I have to renew my car registration and driver’s license before July 1.
I did both, only a little late. The decal that needed to be affixed to my license plate got misplaced.
I remembered taking the decal to the car, telling myself I’d paste it on as soon as I had an extra minute. Then I forgot, went on a trip and emptied my car so I could have it washed.
Before I knew it, July had passed, and I couldn’t put my hands on that green decal.
No matter how many times I searched my car and the trunk, I couldn’t find the decal. When August came, I realized I had better get another one or I’d end up with a ticket.
I went to the tax office in DeKalb County, took a number and waited.
I wasn’t sure if it made a difference to them why my decal never was applied to my license plate.
I decided not to go into the whole story of being a new widow who never handled the details.
I walked up to window No. 5 and simply said: “I applied online for my registration. It came in the mail, and I lost it.”
I waited. Would I be chastised? Scolded? What kind of trouble would I get into?
“So you need a new registration?” the clerk asked.
“Yes, and another decal,” I replied.
“That will be $8,” the DeKalb person said.
No scolding. No questions. I handed her the money, and she gave me a new registration and green decal.
“You made my day,” I beamed. “You really made my day.”
Before I drove off, I affixed my decal. And promised myself next year I’d be more conscientious.
The next day, while sorting through one more pile of papers and mail, I found the missing car registration and decal.
I also found a bumper sticker I had bought a year ago: “Outrageous Older Woman.”
It’s now on the back of my car.