The bluebird of happiness spends some time in the Abyss. She’s also our primary source of guano. (See: multitasking.) Image Source: martineno (Flickr)

The news came unbidden. I never asked. When the roulette wheel of life lands on “win” never trust it. I remember well, just like I was saying the other day, how negativity saved my life.

And you can, too.

So yeah, a not-so subtle Jedi mind trick recently came a huntin’ for my ass. And if I wasn’t careful, it was gonna be my bloody arm neatly severed and quivering on the cantina floor. And, just my luck, a revisionist George Lucas was nowhere in sight, so I couldn’t count on the scene being rewritten to make me the bad guy turned good. Or something like that.

Tom’s Law #42
Good news can be deadly.

Fortunately my negativity skills kicked in and saved my life.

Spoiler alert: Things all work out as they should in the end. My end.

The news came out of the blue. I was going to come into a large sum of money.

No, not your kind of large. Like my kind of large. Remember, you’re talking to a guy who gets excited when he finds a one-dollar bill in his wallet. I don’t want to be too specific. Let’s just say it was approx. three months salary. Or an amount that, if won at the casino, still wouldn’t be enough to require reporting to the IRS. You do the math if you care about the amount so much.

I regarded the news with a healthy skepticism. That’s probably the only time you’ll ever hear about me and “healthy” in the same sentence.

The story, at first, sounded far-fetched. It involved a life insurance policy on a person who had been dead for over five years. It turned out that this person had just learned about the policy and being the beneficiary and needed a bit of my help. And the person wanted to give me half of the money.

I sent off some documents that were requested of me but did not get excited. I live and die by the motto, “Expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed.” I couldn’t help but think about ways to spend the money, but I kept a tight reign on thoughts like that.

The updates came in regularly for awhile. Things were proceeding apace and it all sounded good. In fact, it sounded fantastical. The way it was told to me it involved an insurance company that was helpful and eager to disperse the fund. I smelled a rat. I couldn’t help but wonder if Peter Jackson himself was waiting in the wings deciding if he’d turn the tale into a trilogy since it was sounding more like fantasy than The Hobbit itself.

My helpful friend kept heaping on the good news. My documents had been received and were exactly what was needed. The decision would be made by Friday. The decision was made. The amount was exactly as expected. The insurance company was going to mail the check on Monday. How would I prefer that the funds were sent?

It was around this time that I dropped the G-bomb. Yeppers. I used the word “godsend.” My wife looked at my crossly and said, “You’re an atheist. Why do you say things like that?” I told her it was a word in the dictionary. Look it up.

My plan for the money was simple. Get an iPad for myself and give the rest to my wife. She has an operation coming up and our yearly deductible is $1,500. Naturally that means the thing is going to cost us about $4,000 cash because, you guessed it, the insurance company (a different one) tells us that nothing we’ve spent so far counts towards the deductible. “No countsies,” I believe is the way they put it. My personal theory is that they have no idea what the word “deductible” means. Oh, and that they are also motherfucking cheats and liars, too.

So yeah, godsend was the right word for what the money could have theoretically represented in our lives.

Then, something odd. Monday came and passed without a peep. Then Tuesday. Then the rest of the week. My verbose associate had suddenly came down with a case of lockjaw. I quickly checked my guru watch. Yep. Exactly on schedule.

Finally, this weekend, while taking a day of leisure with Mrs. Abyss, the phone rang. A voice mail was received. It was “urgent” that we speak right away. Naturally no mention about what. Fortunately I’m clever enough that I already knew.

Side note: What is it about people who leave ominous messages and say, “I’ll tell you later.” Why so mysterious? Why not just say, “I’ve got some news about the XYZ. It is this. Call me and I’ll give you the details.” Or the boss who says, “I need to see you Friday at 5pm” then lets you sweat it out all day? Actually, I already know the answer. It’s a sick and sadistic form of control. Life, like always, is about the alpha dog. Dominance and submission. Get your face under the heel of my boot. Pull your head back and expose your neck. Just in case I need to rip out your throat I’ll be needing convenient access. I don’t want to have to go out of my way or anything.

I was driving so my wife made the call. The news couldn’t be shared just yet. We were advised to call back when we got home. The remainder of the fun time (har) with my wife was spent with us speculating how it was going to go down. We both agreed it was game over on the money. What we couldn’t decide was whether we were about to hear a pack of lies or, remote chance, we’d hear something we could actually believe.

At home, rather than relaxing, I picked up the cursed phone and made the call. I was surprised to learn that the check had actually arrived. (Nary a word on why so late, though.) And the fun part? It was for $90.21. That amount was actually less than our expenses on the little project. We had worked diligently, spent money, hopes had been raised, all to find out that we were now officially in the hole.

Long story short, I was told that premiums had ceased at some time in the past. The amount awarded by the insurance company was about $70 with about $20 in interest on that amount. Wow, they are so benevolent.

My contact, of course, was totally bewildered how this could have happened. At every step of the way there were assurances, so it was claimed, that the full amount would be awarded. Then, total surprise, it turned out that the insurance company had made us dance like marionettes for weeks all for less than a Benjamin.

“How odd,” I remarked, “that the insurance company let us believe the higher amount for so long. How odd.” I don’t know if we believe the tale. It’s possible we just got scammed by a major bullshitter. For some reason, I’ve cleverly surrounded myself with such people in my life. Or maybe my associate got hosed down by the insurance company, too. That certainly sounds plausible enough at face value. I guess things would be clearer if I had any actual trust.

In the end my shield of negativity protected me. I did not get upset. I did not feel let down. I was not, in any way, shape or form, surprised. I just chuckled as I avoided the heart attack and/or stroke that was intended to befall me.

Just a day like any other in the life of a guru of negativity.

10 responses

  1. Crushed under the boot heel of life again. That blows.

    I wanted to write something pithy but “that blows” covers it.

    *angry face*


    1. We take that as high praise here in the Abyss. So thanks much. And I hope you brought some treats for our birdie.


  2. I consider it a triumph when I get out of bed in the morning. It’s important to set the bar low so as not to get your hopes up. 🙂


    1. It’s my habit to express surprise each time I wake up. I’ll generally mutter something about, “Looks like I made it another day.”

      You get me. You really do! 🙂


  3. I read a story today in the WSJ about a Nigerian scam involving life insurance policies. Did your check clear?


    1. For $90.21 I could freakin’ care less. My half of that check wouldn’t even pay for the iPad case I was going to accessorize with.

      It turns out that the insurance company would ONLY accept an original of the death certificate. The cost to order one was $100.

      The payout at the end was $90.21.

      Real life is so damn … interesting. You just can’t make shit like this up. I’m just not that fucking clever. Well, maybe the writers of Breaking Bad could think up something like this. But not me.

      I can understand if we weren’t entitled to the money. What I don’t understand is why the insurance company let us jump through hoops for weeks. Why couldn’t they have told us the situation up front? Somehow they only figured out what’s what on the very last day. I guess we all need entertainment.


      1. I was confused about what was going on and why you had any costs. The state of Kansas informed me that I had some money owed to me from some source (not the state, though). It wasn’t much. I filled out a form, but didn’t have to send in any money. I did get a small check, and then the state reminded me at tax time that I owed taxes on it!
        The WSJ story was very interesting about an elaborate and very sophisticated scam that a Nigerian was doing involving life insurance benefits. Law Firms used to dealing with forms, checks, etc. were even taken in.


  4. It’s called Karma. An Atheist says “This check will be a godsend” and it’s doom city.


    1. See what I mean? 🙂 But it’s really a word in the dictionary so I have my freedom of speech, too!


  5. Catherine, I’m sorry it was confusing. That happens to be the way I write. 😉 I find it damn odd that a replacement death certificate costs $100. I’m in the wrong line of work!


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