Monday I hauled out the checkbook to make the car payment, which is due Friday, which probably means Thursday since everything's going to be closed on the Glorious Third this year, but it's only got to go to Tulsa, so I wasn't worrying about it being late. I tore the coupon out of the book, and to my amazement, it was the last coupon.
This elicited an immediate WTF: I know this thing can't possibly be paid off yet, but just the same, there were no coupons left. It was after bankers' hours, so I started rummaging through my endless stack of paperwork, and in rather less time than I expected turned up a copy of the original installment contract. Final payment due, it says: 07/03/2010. Next year. So the bank that financed the deal, for some reason, sent me a coupon book for one year less than the actual term. Not a problem: either they'll send me a new book, or I'll just pay them online from here on out.
It is a measure of something, I suppose, that at no time did I believe that the note was paid off. In fact, I reached for my calculator and did the math, just to make sure I couldn't possibly believe that, even though I would definitely enjoy having X number of extra dollars a month, where X is a number I can't believe I agreed to in the first place. I do not, as a rule, get my hopes up.
This is not exactly the same as pessimism, although I certainly have plenty of that. Pessimism is expecting an unfavorable outcome; in this case, I was simply not expecting a favorable one. I am certainly no worse off than I was before writing the check, unless a brief period of embarrassment counts as "worse"; either way, I have the same twelve payments left.
It is, admittedly, a fine line I'm attempting to draw. Clearly it's a vector, not a scalar; something's acting upon it to force it into one particular direction. I'm not quite sure, however, what that direction may be, or what forces may be involved. I'm thinking, for now anyway, that certain areas of human experience politics, office management, inter-generational conflict, and did I mention politics? more easily fit with the pessimist model. Others love, financial matters, and confrontation with the arts seem to demand a bit more, if not optimism, at least some form of faith.
Hmmm. Maybe that's the ticket: the element of faith. It's not something you (or I, anyway) would waste on politics or staff meetings, to be sure. Right now, though, what I need is faith that this car, with over 117,000 miles now only 29,000 of which were driven by me will outlast its payment book(s) and then some.
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Copyright © 2009 by Charles G. Hill