BRINGING UP GRAND MOTHER
Two months after the departure of the ‘man of the house’ to Heavenly regions, it was time for me to get to the nitty-gritty of things. It was the time to pay the car insurance. Though with a bit of far-sight the car had been purchased two years back in my name, I had never bothered about any paper work except signing where asked to. Fortunately since I had visited the Insurance office with my husband when the car was first insured, I knew the company which had done it.
Grandly I rang up the Insurance people, gave my name, car number and asked for the amount due from me. She asked me to read out the policy number. I pulled out a policy from the file and read out the number with great difficulty as it had been printed over already printed matter. She gave me the amount of the premium due and asked me to courier it as they had no system to send a person to collect it and I told her that that would be no problem.
Next I sat down to write the check. I wrote the payee’s name, amount in letters and figures, wrote the policy number and my mobile number behind the check and put it in an envelope along with a covering letter with all the details of the car and the policy number, addressed it and pasted it and rang up my regular courier guy to come and take it the same evening. I rang up my daughter and told her proudly that I handled the car Insurance thing myself all on my own.
Fortunately just before the courier collected the envelope, it flashed to me that I had made a mistake in the date. I prised open the envelope, changed the month from ‘5’ to ‘6’- a simple job since all it needed was to round off the bulging tummy of 5.
Next morning the first call came from a gentleman in the Insurance office. “Madam, you have given us the wrong policy number with your check”. I said, “How is it possible? I read out directly from the policy” “But madam, that was a wrong policy. Can you read the number again?” Just a few minutes earlier I had received my new specs which I was yet to get used to. Juggling between the new specs and the old one which was slipping, sometimes the frame, sometimes the lens, I read it out. I believe what I thought was ‘1’ was a ‘stroke’ which isolated the number 13. Moreover /13 / meant the policy had been made in the year 2013, the year the car was purchased. What he wanted was the number in the policy made in 2014. I was flummoxed. I was under the impression that a policy is a policy and like in Pan, Aadhar and Passport, the number of the policy was same year after year. The gentleman was frustrated. He asked me desperately, “Whom did you talk to yesterday?” I said, ” A lady”. He checked up something with his lady colleague and told me,” Don’t bother. I shall get the details from the lady”. I shut down the phone and dug into the file for the 2014 policy. I found the number of the policy clear and off the printed matter. I rang them up again and offered to read out the /14/ number. The lady said,”It’s ok mam. We have the details with us.”
Thus ended my first foray into the corporate world. I drank up 2 full glasses of water and sat under the fan in full blast to regain my homeo statis.
But that was not yet to be. After an hour or so, another call came. When I said I rectified the date in the check, I never thought anyone would detect or mind the correction. No, but they did detect it. Anticipating a problem at the bank about the overwriting, the lady demanded a new check to be sent promising to mail me the old one. She also told me that slight error in the date-day or month would not have been of serious consequence as checks had validity of 3 months.
I went through the whole process again, this time carefully and without overwriting- the check, covering letter, address, pasting, etc. I asked the courier to come again to pick it up, paid him again and relaxed.
So, I had finally learnt how to write a check at the ripe age of 78 years so that I could right royally decimate the nest egg painstakingly built up by my dear departed.
I had some consolation when I heard that a doctor from Australia put a big ‘X’ all across the check when she was asked to cross the check by a shop keeper in India!
The third phase of trouble started when I asked them to courier back to me the dishonored check. If they had just kept quite I would have asked the bank not to issue payment against the said check. No, the lady in charge told me that it had been couriered back to me. I waited and waited one full fortnight for the dishonored check. But it never came though the lady on the phone kept insisting that they had couriered it to me.
One fine day, on my way back from the Command hospital I decided to take the bull by the horn. I went to the Insurance office and ignoring the rickety lift, climbed two flights of steps. Panting, I located the manager’s office and accosted her about the missing check and the never ending refrain,” It has been couriered madam, it will reach you in a day or two” on the phone. I asked her if they could not solve the problem without a 78 year old sick lady climbing the steps and coming in person to enquire. The manager, a stylish and charming lady tried to appease me, made me sit down and drink a glass of water. She sent for the lady who had been in touch with me. To my great surprise, the latter had my dishonored check in her hand! She mumbled, ‘’It was found only yesterday, madam, hidden among the checks meant for the bank. I had planned to courier it today.” I exploded, ”What made you lead me up the garden path saying that it had already been couriered to me?” She mumbled again,’’I thought the person to whom I had handed it over had couriered it to you”.
After extracting a written apology from the manager, I walked home triumphantly with the date- overwritten- and- the wrong –policy- number- written -overleaf check in my purse.