Month: December 2017


This morning, to finish up my Christmas shopping, I ordered gift boxes and tissue paper at Target – then went to the store and picked up my order.

I’ve made it my mission to actually pay for (rather than charge) everything I buy this year for Christmas. As such, I’ve been keeping a close eye on my credit cards and paying my bills as soon as I make any charges. But for Target, I save 5% (woo hoo!) by using my Target credit card – so I have to pay that charge separately.

So I hopped online to login and make a payment. This is usually pretty easy. I typed in my username and password.

A bold, bright red error message appeared: NOT VALID!

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Maybe I had changed my password. I tried a few different ones, and finally – humiliated – I clicked on “forgot password?”

“Please choose one of the following ways to login,” said the new page. My choices were to type in the year that I got my Target credit card (which could have been ANY year in the past 30) or the last four digits of my social security number. I typed in the last four digits of my social security number.

An error message appeared next to my the SSN box: NOT VALID!

  We’re sorry, but the Last Four Digits of the Primary Cardholder’s Social Security Number you entered is incorrect. Please try again.

I was beginning to get peeved. Rather than re-enter the correct digits a few dozen times, I decided to call. I found the number online, and dialed.

“So that we can help you, please enter the last four digits of your card number and press pound.”

I did that.

“Now please enter the last four digits of your social security number and press pound.”

Then I did that.

The system responded with: “Want to make managing your account even easier? Go to to enroll online….”

Gee. I had already enrolled online. I needed to speak with someone about accessing my account. I tried pressing zero.

“We’re sorry. We didn’t recognize that,” the system said. I pressed zero. I pressed 1, 2 and 3. I listened to all of the automated prompts. I couldn’t speak with a human being.

So I visited – the best resource for finding out how to talk to a real person when phone systems are useless.

After 20 minutes, I found something that told me to “repeatedly say ‘customer service’ until you get the option to dial 0.”

I called back. I said, “customerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservicecustomerservice….”

Finally, something shifted in the system. I pressed zero – and got a real human being. He helped me reset my password, but did nothing to help the system recognize my social security number. (The second person with whom I talked assured me that this “just happens sometimes, for security reasons.” In other words, no one will ever fix the system, and it will never recognize my social security number.)

Still, finally, after only an hour, I was able to log in to my account. With my pending purchase this morning, my total amount owed was $104.58. So I logged in, clicked “pay my bill,” and typed in “$104.58.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes. There it was – another “NOT VALID!

“The amount entered exceeds the amount owed,” the website said. “Please enter a lower amount.”

Quietly, without throwing anything, I left the Target website. I went to my bank website, clicked on “Make Payment,” and paid Target $104.58.

And I sincerely believe I will never, ever use the Target credit card website again.

Are You Absolutely Sure?

The second quarter started while Dylan was out of town. We were on our final college road trip of the year (I hope) so I deemed it worthwhile that he miss yet another day of school to become inspired about his future.

The following Monday, on the second day of the second quarter, Dylan came home with no homework and nothing to do.

“I’m already all caught up,” he said. “There was surprisingly nothing to do.”

“Great,” I said – fully believing him.

On Tuesday, Dylan was having a friend over after school. “Did you get everything done for tomorrow?” I asked. “And did you talk to your teachers about any missing work?”

“YES, Mom,” he said. “I did everything I needed to do.”

“And you talked to all of your teachers about it? Are you absolutely sure?”

“YES!” Dylan growled, nearly biting off my head. “I talked to every single one of them! I don’t have anything to do!”

“Okay,” I said – mostly believing him.

The following day, I randomly checked online to see if any grades had been posted for the new quarter. Dylan was failing history, since he had turned in absolutely nothing, and he was missing two out of four precalculus assignments – one of which was already past due and could not be turned in.

The other classes haven’t posted any grades yet, or I am certain that Dylan would have more missing assignments.

I texted Dylan. I was vague, but I made my point. “The next time you want to have a friend over, I will think twice about it.”

He went off the deep end (via text). He assured me that, as usual, “I’m still making up some stuff…. but I know what all of it is.”

When I reminded him that he’d told me it was already done, he said – and I quote: “I did not say that. I said I had all the work DONE which is true. I did not say it was all in.”


From now on, I will not “fully” believe him – ever. Sadly, I will probably still “mostly” believe him more often than I should.

What Would Bill Do?

Today is Bill’s birthday.

Bill is a good husband. Not only does he work hard, pay the bills, and fix things around the house, but he constantly strives to make me happy. Both the fixing and the striving, however, make me absolutely crazy. On most days, I just want him to relax and worry about himself, instead of working 24/7 to make everyone else happy.

But he is a decent man and a good provider, and he’s both funny and incredibly smart. The fact that he drives me bonkers isn’t surprising – because I am generally unsatisfied with everything, all the time. Almost anyone can drive me bonkers.

Luckily, I am not my children’s only role model.

While Bill is a good husband, he is a great father. He has three wonderful boys, and they all know that they can turn to him if they need anything. Sometimes they need something simple, like a new battery for a toy. Other times they need something more substantial, like advice on navigating relationships. Somehow, Bill always responds in a level-headed manner. He answers questions in ways that make sense.

I think this stems from the fact that Bill is a truly moral human being. Most people recognize this as soon as they meet Bill. It’s easy for me to overlook when he leaves his cup on the counter or his shoes on the living room floor – but it is obvious to me when I reflect, and it is always apparent to his family and friends.

One of the reasons I love Bill – and certainly one of the biggest reasons I am glad that he fathered my children – is because of his moral decency. He works hard to make the world a better place, starting with the way he treats other people. Bill is the strongest proponent of the Golden Rule I have ever known. And as such, he is a spectacular role model for his children and everyone around him.

Sometimes I find myself saying, “What would Bill do?” Then, when I imitate my husband, I find that I get better results than if I had followed my own, more limited instincts.

Bill and I have our issues, as all couples do, and he definitely drives me crazy. He’s 100% ADHD, and I am fairly certain that Bill also has a vision processing disorder. Both of my kids’ issues can be attributed to my husband’s genes, although he’s never been diagnosed with anything. And it’s terribly challenging dealing with an adult with ADHD who medicates himself only with coffee, and who doesn’t process things in any organized fashion. We argue way too much over very small things.

But the big things are what matters. And Bill’s heart is in the right place. His goodness is real.

So when someone comes to him – a stranger or a coworker or a cashier or one of his beloved children – when someone comes to Bill for help, he listens to the best of his ability. Then he responds calmly and rationally. And whatever solution Bill suggests will cause the other person to believe that they’ve come up with the solution on their own – even though it’s actually from the wisdom of Bill’s years of experience.

And today, we celebrate another year of that wisdom. Happy birthday, Bill.

← Previous page