Spammers And Bankers And Rage, Oh My!

So, how’s everybody today? Hopefully good. I’m doing ok. A little sluggish, but that’s alright, I’ll get over it eventually. Maybe writing might help get me going, so I figure that’s what I’ll do until I run out of things to talk about or get sidetracked by something else.

Everybody keeps asking me if I miss Carin yet and if it’s weird around the house without her here. The answers to those questions are yes and it’s getting there. I don’t mind being by myself, I used to live alone and for the most ppart it was a pretty good experience. I’m the type of person that enjoys my own company and doesn’t have much trouble staying amused, so not having other people around isn’t something that bothers me much. Where it gets weird is knowing that I don’t live alone and that the person I share my space and my life with isn’t just out for the afternoon or a day or 2, but for a whole month. Every routine I have is slightly different. For instance, when I sit down to have dinner and watch the news there’s nobody to talk about the day with, not to mention that I have to get used to cooking for just one person again. There are countless little things like that that I’m having to adjust to, and the funny thing is that by the time I get myself into that groove it’ll be time for Carin to come home and I’ll have to adjust all over again.

Speaking of Carin, I’m glad everybody seems to be enjoying her updates. She’s gotten a few nice emails and I’ve even gotten 1 or 2 thanking me for putting them up, so it’s nice to see that people are getting something out of them. Yesterday was officially dog day for her, but I’ll let her break that news on her own whenever the next update gets here. From what she says and what I’ve always heard, now is the time when things start really getting crazy, so if the updates aren’t as timely as they’ve been up to now, don’t be at all surprised.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all of this talk from Jack Layton and the NDP about how unfair ATM fees are. He’s pretty much come right out and said that the charges banks force consumers to pay to access their own money is one of the top issues facing the Canadian public, and that we’re all up in arms about it. My question is a simple one. Is this guy serious? This is a top issue? We’re up in arms? All of us? Who is he talking to? I’ve never in my life heard a person complain about these things. Well ok, to be fair, a lot of people complain and rightfully so about the privatley owned machines in a lot of places that can charge whatever they want and usually do to an outrageous extent. Those things are evil and can burn in hell as far as I’m concerned, but the solution to that problem is easy. If you don’t want to pay a $5 surcharge to take out 20 bucks, don’t. If you have absolutely no choice and you need money at that exact moment then I feel bad for you, but otherwise, the fact that you’re getting gouged is your own problem until the government steps in and tells the people who own these things to knock it off.

But those aren’t even the machines that Layton is concerned about. The one’s he’s targeting are the ones owned by the big banks. He feels that there’s no need to levy what is essentially a convenience fee or what I’ve heard called a tax on the poor when a person uses a machine owned by one bank to take money out of an account at another. Again, simple question time. Why not? A system that allows me to use my Royal Bank card to get money out of a CIBC machine at 3 in the morning on a Sunday is definitely what I consider convenient, and I accept the fact that I need to pay for that. Nothing that easy is ever free, and this is no different. Keeping a network as large and sophisticated as that one running as well as it does can’t possibly be a cheap thing to pull off, and somebody somewhere has to foot the bill. Layton makes it seem as though people don’t have a choice about paying these fees, and that’s just not true. I’m sure that somebody somewhere doesn’t have a choice and again I feel bad for that person, but most of us have options. if the fees are more than you can handle, then don’t use other people’s machines. Wait for your bank to open, walk inside and stand in line like we had to do back in the good old days. I know that for some people a dollar or 2 can make a lot of difference, but that doesn’t change the fact that nothing pays for itself, and if we weren’t paying the buck at the machine, that same charge would be hidden somewhere else. Either way, we’re still paying for it, so we might as well pay at the pump so to speak.

But if you want to talk about taxes on the poor, then why not target the whole idea of service charges? Those things are a tax on the poor if I’ve ever seen one, especially that minimum balance bullshit they came up with. That’s ridiculous. by opening an account, you agree to always keep X number of dollars in it, and if you don’t, we’ll take more of your money away from you making it even harder for you to get back up to where we’d like you to be. How does that make any sense? The way I look at it, the more money you have, the bigger the favour the bank is doing you by looking after it and the more you should be paying them to do it. You’d think that a lot more time and energy would go into looking after thousands of dollars than would go into hanging onto a few hundred bucks that Jerry who works down at Subway managed to stash away somehow. It’s a bigger responsibility, much in the same way that watch my baby for the afternoon while I go out and do a few things is a bigger responsibility than hold my coke for a second while I find my glasses. You can charge by the hour for babysitting, but nobody ever gets tossed a 5 for hold this. Why should this be any different? Lay the charges on the people who can afford them, the ones with those high interest accounts with lots of money in them who need more attention. it just makes sense. You can say that money is money, but that’s not the way banks look at things. if you’re broke, they want nothing to do with you and for some reason they see fit to lay all of the charges on you. Why not look into regulating that attitude and forcing banks to charge the people who are using more resources the appropriate rates for them? it seems to me that would be a much better use of government’s time and energy than going after the machines.

I think spammers are starting to get a little bit desperate. I just got one that said “For God sake don’t pass this bye!” Hopefully that means business isn’t going so well.

I mentioned the other day that I saw something that got me very upset. I had a person ask me about it and I was thinking about posting it anyway, so here goes.

Some of you might have noticed little references here and there over the last few months to some family situations I’ve been going through. What happened was my dad and one of my grandmothers both had strokes about a month apart. My grandma is back at home and doing quite well now, but my dad wasn’t so lucky. He’s back home too, but he’s only got the use of one arm and one of his legs isn’t quite right either. he’s also not totally with it mentally because of some brain damage he suffered at the time.

Ok, now that you’re all caught up, here’s the story.

When I was visiting family a couple of weeks ago, my sister and I decided to pay him a visit to see how he was doing and chat with him for a little. While we were there, he went to the fridge and offered me a beer. It’s at this ppoint that I need to back up again and fill in an important detail. My dad has been an alcoholic for longer than I’ve been alive, and I’m just a few years away from being 30. So the fact that he had booze in his house was a bit of a concern considering that it was a major factor in why he’s in the shape he’s in now. I took him up on his offer figuring that he only had the couple that we saw in the fridge. I thought that if I drank one it would leave one less for him to play with, and hey, who am I to turn down free beer? In retrospect I really should have known better, because if experience has taught me anything over the years it’s that there’s no such thing as *a* beer where dad’s concerned. And sure enough, he asked my sister to go down and bring some more up from the basement. Yes, the basement. A steep flight of stairs. A steep flight of stairs that separates a partially paralyzed stroke victim with a drinking problem from the nectar of the gods. Gee, I don’t see what could possibly go wrong.

that by itself is bad enough, but you also have to take into consideration that dad is pretty much housebound at this point unless somebody takes him out. That means that somebody else is the cause of this. Some as yet unidentified asshole, probably one of his drinking buddies, thinks that they’re being helpful by getting cases of beer for the poor guy and hiding them downstairs so that people won’t find out. What kind of mental retardation does it take for that to seem in any way logical? You don’t have to answer that, it’s a rhetorical question. I know exactly what kind it takes because I spent my life growing up around it. But even though I’m used to it, it still hurts just a little bit each time I see it in action.

I hate to end things on such a down note, but I’m out of things to write about and I’m getting really really hungry. The joy and fun will return very soon though, so don’t you worry. Thanks for reading this all the way to the end if you made it that far. I’ll be back later.

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