Fighting back has never been my default m.o., I don’t particularly crave confrontations but middle age has made me definitely crankier. I used to make fun of angry old ladies but I suppose that if one has spent several decades dealing with husbands, children and the world at large I believe one has earned the right to be cranky. Rather than cranky, actually, I tend to question more, whether it’s a newspaper article, a shop assistant, a politician, anyone in power.
Normally going to retrieve the mail is a bland and minor annoyance – a ream of useless paper typically tumbles out of the mail box with the majority of it going straight to the recycling bin or the shredder. Long gone has the time when I used to wait for the mailman and I would take several trips to the mailbox: whether it was a letter from a boyfriend in the military service or the answer to a job application, there always was something to look forward to. Now the most personal item I can look forward to is a thank you card and even those have gone the way of letters and morphed into terse e-mails.
Which is why I was doubly surprised when, last week, I got two unusual pieces of mail. The first was definitely good news in the form of a very hefty check for a class settlement lawsuit in which I was represented unbeknownst to me (probably one of those very long and very small print notices that went straight into the shredder) against a bunch of utilities companies that, apparently, grossly overcharged me over the years. Not too sure who to thank but thank you to the angel who took the time to analyze all those bills and do something about it.
The second was a rather confusing letter from my auto insurance company. Some of you who have a very good memory – and not much of a life – might remember that a few months ago a hapless valet smashed my car, well he damaged it by hitting a mini-bus. The mini-bus driver claimed it was the valet’s fault and on and on, back and forth until I placed the matter in the hands of my insurance. The car was repaired but I was still out of my deductible. Many a phone calls and messages later left to my claim adjuster and her boss, I was told these things take time, they have to collect the money from the responsible party and they will be in touch. Well, in touch they got.
“Our policy permits us to recover the entire amount of our payments plus your deductible from the responsible party […] However, due the circumstances of the accident, we feel it would be inappropriate to pursue this action”. Let’s back up a minute here – what circumstances are they talking about? I wasn’t even in the car at the time of the accident, I was happily having dinner with a couple of girlfriends!
In an instance of good luck (it was my birthday after all) the claims representative who had signed the moronic letter answered her phone at the second ring. After stating my case and my indignation, a long silence ensued. “Well, by the time we went after the responsible party, the statute of limitations had run out” It was my turn to be silent “Well, whose fault is it?” Sigh “Mine, I will issue the check for your deductible immediately”.
I was only mildly relieved. In fact, I felt like I had been taken advantage of. What if I had been less observant, less educated, non-English speaking or just plain careless with my mail? How many of the thousands of people who receive such letters every day do nothing about it for one reason or another? My recourse is to write to the Insurance Commission and to the Better Business Bureau, check notwithstanding. I really have little time to research addresses and compose letters but I will carve whatever time this needs. In a perverse way, I am looking forward to having all the time in the world to remedy whatever wrongs come my way. And then some.