OP-ED: Story Over a Cup: Your bill is…and three cents

Published 12:45 am Friday, October 9, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Michael Cole
Story Over A Cup

I often have to pay late fees on bills. Not out of a lack of money, but for the fact being unless it is set up as an auto draft, I will forget it until I receive a late notice.

Or a disconnect notice.

I have even had the electric disconnected and almost had a car repossessed over it.

All because I forgot.

Yeah, I suppose that all of the letters of reminder would spur most people to do things, but I would receive those reminders and then set it aside to do the next day.

And, you guessed it, I would forget it.

Well, it comes that I had a bill which only accrued interest as it went on.

Until I got a bill and a stern lecture that I needed to pay the bill immediately.

Okay, no problem, if I owed it, I owed it.

How much was it? $960.03

Well, after getting over the shock of the bill size, something dawned on me.

Three Cents?

I would have thought nothing of a $960 bill or an even a Thousand dollars.

But somehow it was the three cents that I was hung up on. It seemed so odd.

I guess it is because we as a society like even numbers, we hate oddity. Life works better with neat little packages.

Anything that sticks out, of cannot be wrapped into neat little packages blows our minds.

Have I become so placent in my life that I am more willing to pay a thousand dollars, but an odd three cents irks me somehow?

Well, yes. That’s three cents. Do you understand how many minutes I would need to dig in the couch or under the car seat to find three pennies?

I worked harder for the three cents than I probably did for the rest.

I was proud of those three cents. I had to battle the dogs, stale chips, a remote from a TV we haven’t had in years to find those three cents.

I had to trod twenty feet from my office to my wife’s car to find those three cents.  In itself, this is a feat considering that going outside in the midday Texas sun is in itself a feat.

Battling the mosquitos. The mail from the mailbox which never made it into the house. Ironically, I found a bill mailed to me that a month ago I could have paid without the three cents on it.

And still, that three cents bother me.

It is much like life, how many of us concentrate too much on one aspect of a problem and not on the problem as a whole? We find ourselves convinced that if all we do is change that picture, elect that leader, pay that three cents, or whatever we solve the whole problem.

I know what my problem is, it is not the three cents. It is staying on top of the bills. It is not changing that picture as much as cleaning the room. It is not as much as electing a leader, as much as it is cleaning up our government.

But we have programmed ourselves to grasp the small thing and ignore the bigger problems.

I didn’t clean that room, so until I do, the picture will not fix anything.

I do not stay on my bills, so the three cents will not fix anything.

I assume replacing one elected official with another will change anything, so I do not care that nothing changes.

I think at times it is easier to obsess with the small things than look in the mirror an accept the responsibility for the big things and move to fix them.

Okay, enough for now, I wonder if the Jumping Bean has any coffee that doesn’t have “and three cents” in the price?


Michael Cole is a syndicated columnist that when he is not writing, he is plotting global domination. You can follow him at www.storyoveracup.com