So Much Crazy in This World
If you ever feel like maybe you’re crazy, and are worried about that, I’d like to relieve your mind a little bit.
The world around us is crazy. Observe it carefully, and you can’t help but come to that conclusion – crazy. Almost nothing works right around here. So many things are arranged in a less-than-optimal fashion, so much senseless waste, wars between people who are all very good people, it’s ultimately needless, and yet, there it is.
The question is, how well are you able to navigate the Crazy? Can you keep standing up, when being pummeled by Crazy from all sides? Are you able to sleep at night? Resilience and calmness can seem impossible at times; and yet, those are some of the greatest things you can strive for, in Crazy circumstances.
My latest “crazy” experience
My latest “crazy” experience was somewhat off the charts this past week.
My wife and I bought a property to fix and sell in the middle of last year, and it took a lot longer and cost more money (of course) than we originally expected. It took so much work – but we finally finished everything around September, and put the property on the market. And it didn’t sell until this month, January. Which was annoying, but OK. We still made money on the deal. But the first step when receiving the money was to pay back the loans for the purchase of the property.
Earlier this week I had to wire transfer US$120K from our normal bank to the “other” bank, the one that loaned us the money. Over there we have a checking account we never use, and the loan account. I called that bank to get the wire instructions – because I didn’t want to carry a cashier’s check for such a large sum between banks; it didn’t feel right to me. I wanted to do the transfer quickly, electronically. What I didn’t realize was that when the bank said “wire it to your checking account,” they meant because the checking account has a different account number than the loan number. I thought they were the same number (I didn’t know).
So I went in to the closest retail outlet of my normal bank during my lunch break. This branch happens to be inside a grocery store. I told the manager I wanted to initiate a wire transfer. “Oh you can’t do that here” was the response I got, which confused me. “Our branch is closing down, you’ll need to do that at a stand-alone branch.” I asked, “when are you closing?” to which the manager replied, “not until the end of March.”
I just stood there for a good moment, pondering this. It sounded kind of crazy, I have to admit. “You can’t send wires, even though you’re still a fully operating bank branch, and you’re not closing for 3 more months?” I asked. “Well, yea, we were supposed to close in 2 weeks, but the central office extended us until end of March.” …But didn’t grant you the ability to send wires, when you clearly have customers that need to send them. Alrighty, then.
So, on to a stand-alone branch. A quick google-search as I hopped in the car; I drove about 5 miles to a branch I hadn’t used before, because I knew it was near the restaurant I wanted to eat lunch at. Now it was 15 minutes after noon, and I was starting to get hungry. Every branch is equal to every other branch, right? I should be able to wire money from one that I’ve never been to.
I went inside and asked to send a wire transfer. They ushered me quickly into an office to fill out the paperwork, which I did; and they said they’d send the wire right away. “The money should be there within an hour, if you check your other bank’s account after work you’ll see it went through.” Happy with myself, I left and went to lunch; then I drove back to work.
After 5PM when I got off work, I checked the other bank’s account online – no money had arrived. I started to get worried. Something’s wrong! Don’t panic…. failed wires usually get sent back to the originating bank, right? So I logged into my normal bank account where the money came from – and, no money there either.
I immediately drove to the bank with the loan, and sat down with a more senior employee and told them my issue. “Yea, I don’t see the money has arrived yet, what account and ABA did you send it to?” I told him the details. “Oh, you gave them your loan number, you can’t do that. Wires cannot go directly to loans. They must go to a checking account.” My stomach sunk down a bit, inside of me.
Oh no. That’s my fault then, I didn’t know that. I wanted to make a loan payment of $120K, but apparently I’m supposed to transfer it to the checking account, then pay the loan from there! My bad. “OK, what do I do now?” “You have to go back to the originating bank and have them re-send the wire to the checking account.”
“But I logged in online and checked my account, the money didn’t go back to them either.” “Well, the money is not at our end. The wire would have failed, and the money would go back to the originating bank. Check in the morning, their online systems will probably update over night.”
Sigh. It’s now 5:50PM. The other bank is closed for the day. I could not find any branch that would still be open beyond 6PM, within a distance that I could get there in time. So I guess I’m done for the day. That sinking, out-of-control feeling was getting stronger.
I think you can imagine what was about to come next.
Realization and Personal Challenge
I needed to go home and prepare dinner, and eat it; without feeling sick to my stomach that $120K of cash is missing now. I needed to get some sleep, and not stay up worrying all night long. I needed to not stay up drinking all night, because I have to work in the morning! The money is gone from every bank account that I control, and I can’t do anything about it until tomorrow. $120K is a LOT of money!
In that moment of realization, while driving home, of what the next 12 hours were going to be like, it hit me – this is a test. This is a test to see if I can be relaxed and calm and keep my cool, despite a powerful wave of fear welling up, brimming on the edge of my mind, ready to take over my brain. It’s happened before – that out-of-control, can’t eat anything, sleepless-night syndrome. I think it happens to everyone at one time or another. I just didn’t want it to happen to me, despite the circumstances.
When you think about it, this is one of those situations where I literally CANNOT do anything about it until tomorrow. So I knew there was absolutely no reason for me to be waylaid by fear and anxiety. Put it aside until you can do something about it. I should save all my fear and anxiety until tomorrow, it’s only needed after I’ve taken every step possible and the money is still missing. …That can’t actually happen, right?!?
I feel like this is a perfect test for me. So much of my life has been wrapped up in unreasonable fear and self-doubt, early on in my life, and I’ve overcome so much of that, it hardly comes up anymore. A couple decades ago, if I “lost” $1000, I would feel a tremendous amount of fear and hatred and anger; but I’ve come a long way in recent years in being able to manage my life activities and keep myself calm in the face of Crazy events, so many times. Now, 120 times that amount of money was “lost”! It’s almost unfathomable to think about.
But I managed to do it! I didn’t blurt out the horrible events of the day when my wife got home an hour after me. I spent my time preparing the meal that I had so carefully planned out, I bought many different types of foods that you can eat with chopsticks, so we could both practice using chopsticks, something we’ve wanted to get better at this year. I designed and printed out an amusing “Chef Paulio Menu” for the 5-course meal I had planned, and put it on the dinner table. It was meant to be a bit of a joke from a very fancy dinner we had one time that was very expensive and took almost 2 hours to eat all the courses. The 5-course meal I was planning consisted of: celery with cream cheese (cut into bite-size pieces), salad with raw mushroom slices (to be dipped in ranch dressing), egg drop soup (super easy to make, and delicious – look up a recipe on the Internet; not a chopstick item, I know, but good nonetheless), a ribeye steak that I spiced up, cooked, and cut into bite-sized squares; and lastly, for dessert – raspberries that I rolled in sugar and arranged nicely on a flat plate.
So you can see, life had an opportunity here to ruin my special evening. This was a surprise for my wife, all she knew was I was going to make dinner; she didn’t know all of the preparation I was going through. I could easily have scrapped the whole thing and gone thru the Taco Bell drive-thru, she would have never known the difference. But I didn’t want to do that. I can choose to have a nice meal with my wife, right?
So we had a really great dinner, and talked about whatever she wanted to talk about; I managed not to think about the lost money except briefly maybe one or two times. After dinner, while we were doing the dishes, I told her what had happened with the wire-transfer, and what I was doing to fix it in the morning. I laughed it off, just one of those Crazy things – stupid banks, you know? And I’m glad I said it that way and then changed the subject, so she wouldn’t worry very much. We both try hard not to hide anything about money from the other person; I think our relationship is a lot smoother because of that, overall.
We watched a couple TV shows that night, which was nice and relaxing, as I managed to barely not think about things too much.
We went to sleep – and I successfully banished all bad thoughts and feelings from my brain all night long! I managed to keep them from grabbing on to me and torturing me, somehow.
The Next Day
The wave of bad feelings hit me when I groggily woke up the next morning at 6AM. But I still couldn’t do anything about it – banks don’t open until at least 9AM.
I got dressed and went to work – ah, work, such a nice distraction because of all the mental energy it requires. At 10AM when a number of meetings had ended, I drove immediately over to my main bank, to get them to find the money and re-send the wire. This time I went to my favorite branch where I knew the people who worked there, they’ll be able to help me I’m sure.
When I got there I explained everything to the manager. We sat down and she went to work figuring out what was going on. It turns out she could not make any changes to the wire, since she had not sent it – there are safety mechanisms within the bank to keep one employee from affecting changes to other employee’s financial activities, such as wire transfers, probably to protect against fraud. Banks have to cooperate with lots of fraud rules & regulations, more and more every year, to prevent many specific problems from happening – problems that must have actually happened, I would guess, at some point in the past. Rules and regulations help protect against bad activities, but have a nasty side-effect of preventing innocent people like me from doing what we rightly need to do.
She told me that the money had not yet arrived back at this bank. Sigh.
I got out my cell phone and called over to the destination bank. They said they would look into it and call me back as soon as they could.
My bank manager made some phone calls to find out what more she could do, but eventually told me, “once they reject the wire, it will come back to us; then you will have to go over to the branch you sent the wire from, and re-sign the paperwork there, because I’m not allowed to make any changes from here.”
I thought about my job, all the work I was going to miss today; after being here for over an hour already, I was going to have to drive about 8 miles to the other branch, sit there for an unknown amount of time waiting for the money to be “returned” to the branch, so we could do everything over again. A money-reboot. This could take all day. I’m so lucky I work for a flexible company, but now I would have to call my boss to explain I would probably be out for another few hours. I kind of snuck out at 10AM without telling anyone; which is usually OK, as long as I make up the time later on.
Before I had a chance to say goodbye to my favorite bank manager, my cell phone rang. It was the other bank manager – and, good news! They didn’t reject the wire because… the loan department did the right thing!
When the loan department saw the money wired in under a loan account number, instead of rejecting the wire like they often do, they were holding the money until they could verify with the customer (me) that I wanted to pay it towards the loan! They would be happy to reject the wire, or pay the loan, whatever I wanted. I said yes, please pay it towards the loan – and so they did. “You should see your loan balance change online by the end of the day,” the confident voice on my cell phone informed me. I was so happy, I thanked him profusely.
I told my bank’s manager the good news. That’s why the money wasn’t sent back, we both realized. They were holding it, to find out what I wanted to do.
Whew, what a relief. Eventually, the right thing happened from my point of view. The Crazy was now over. I drove back to work.
The world we live in is crazy. So, if you and I are also a little crazy, that’s not so unusual; it doesn’t make us stick out, instead we uniquely fit right in. The people around us are kind of expecting it from us, actually…. I think everyone needs to have a certain amount of “crazy” just to function in this life!
So don’t feel bad about it at all. It’s like a game: can you maintain your own emotional control, mental sanity, during the Crazy times? Because they come and go; they won’t always be here. Like waves of an ocean, they go away, and then come back again.
Actually, I think you and I fit right in.
Welcome to Crazy Town, population: everyone.