Have you ever felt guilty for something you haven’t done yet?
Right now, I do.
Three or four days ago, I received a phone call from the office of an oral surgeon who divested me of some troublesome teeth three years ago.
Did I know if my bank had cashed check number whatever-it-was from July of 2015?
Of course I knew! How mortified I’d be if I’d forgotten!
All right. That’s a lie. I had no clue. I didn’t even have a clue about how I would go about getting a clue, and I told the caller as much.
“Can you call your bank?”
I hate talking to my bank.
“Please ask them if check number whatever for the amount of this much was ever presented for payment.”
“That’s a check I actually paid, right?” I asked.
“Then it’s not something I have at hand.”
“No, we have it here. The doctor just found it.”
“Ah. Then the doctor lost it three years ago.”
“But I did pay her.”
“And if I’d paid her in cash, and she’d lost the cash, I would not be responsible for paying her again.”
“That’s right, but she doesn’t know if she ever presented it for payment. If she didn’t, she’d need a newer check, because this one is too old for the bank to cash.”
“Okay. So you expect me to call my bank, and find out if she cashed my check. Even if they have that information, what do you expect me to do with it?”
“Well, we’ll return the old check, and you can send us a new one for the same amount.”
“You’re asking me to pay again?”
“Well, technically, we never got your payment.”
IS THAT MY FAULT???
I was tempted to blow her off, but since I have a propensity for guilt, I called the bank. The poor clerk who answered the phone spent a good twenty minutes searching through my records, and he could find no proof that the check had ever been turned in.
I called the office back and told them the check had, indeed, never been presented for payment.
True to their word, they mailed it back to me… with a bill for the original amount.
Guilt stopped me from throwing it in the trash… and guilt fills my heart for wanting to do just that.
I feel guilty for not keeping good bank records. I feel guilty for not having a little slush fund reserved for paying bills I thought I’d paid three years ago. I feel guilty for knowing there’s a good possibility I’m going to sit on this bill and let it fester, before I actually write these bozos another check and send it in.
But mostly, I feel guilty for being the type of fool who acts responsibly in the face of other people’s mistakes.