Saturday, June 23, 2018

Chicken & Feathers

This week has reminded me of a saying my dad used to use all the time: "One day chicken, the next day feathers--that's life." (Apologies to the vegetarians and vegans out there--obviously, my dad was an old-school carnivore.)

The week was going well. I submitted an article on Wednesday, got up bright and early and ready to roll on Thursday. All the credit for that goes to my kitty, Juno, though--she keeps me on the straight and narrow. (That's another expression my dad used to use a lot.)

Thursday night, I was just about to unplug and read, but I decided to check my email one last time before I did.

That's when I was cheerfully notified by PayPal that, using my credit card, I had made a payment of $500. to a guy named "Pablo" for "professional services."

Yeah. It sorta sounds like I hired a male escort, doesn't it?

Full disclosure: I was, at the time, curled up in bed with a guy named Smokey, but 1) he's a cat, and 2) he has no interest in money or credit cards.

His lovin' is for free. Or at the most, it's an in-kind transaction: food for snuggles, that kind of thing.

So I hurtled out of bed and called the credit card company, then I called PayPal. Because yes, my credit card number had been hacked and stolen.

AGAIN.

This happened a couple of years ago as well. If we're looking on the bright side of things, I suppose we could say that a good thing is that in both cases, by a weird twist of fate, I managed to catch the fraud within 15 minutes of it being posted to my account.

Yeah, sneaky little thieves? NOT ON MY WATCH.  

But of course this is not the bedtime story anyone wants to be greeted with (and in both cases, it was a 9 p.m. event--apparently that's the witching hour for credit card fraud).

Nor does one want to awaken the next morning to find what looks like yet another PayPal email courtesy of "Pablo," requesting $500, seeming to originate in Argentina, and written entirely in Spanish.

I contacted PayPal yet again, and told them I was "FREAKING OUT ABOUT THIS." (No one could ever say I don't "name it" when I'm upset.)

They chuckled very, very gently (they've been trained), told me that was "completely understandable, given the situation" and then asked me questions about the email to help alert my befuddled mind to the fact that it was a fake.

As the woman said, "The guy is just trying to get you to enter your financial information again, now that you've shut down the card."

In short, "Pablo" is not terribly bright. Granted, it may have come as a bit of a surprise to have his attempted charge blasted into nothingness within approximately 7 minutes of clicking "submit," so perhaps he just couldn't believe that the card had really been cancelled. Or he's unaware of how quickly PayPal sends out those email notifications.

And, I'm guessing, he's also unaware that thanks to him, there's no more financial info. to be had, really, because the dude officially crapped out my only credit card, thank you very much, you asshole.

I'm sorry, was that out loud? Sigh. Between Equifax and these credit card fraudsters, I long for a simpler time.

I can't speak for others, but I feel like there was a "sweet spot" out there, somewhere in the mid-90's.

When the internet was a convenience, but there was a general wariness surrounding it. We bought some things online, but not all. Not everything was automatic or automatically online. There was email, but no major forms of social media. TV was "okay" sometimes. People talked to each other. They weren't always staring at their phones, because they didn't always have phones.

If you had said "selfie" to someone, they would have said, "Kinda full of yourself, aren't you? I mean... you're gonna take a picture of yourself and then post it somewhere? And do this, like, every day?? Why?"    

These days, I feel like... we've gone too far, somehow. Are we happy? I don't think we're happy, really.

Anyway, I got a chance to enter that simpler time yesterday, when I found myself writing checks and putting stamps on envelopes that I then walked to the post office to mail.

How cute, right?  I might as well have been wearing a bonnet or carrying a parasol. (I was not.) (Those things are probably safer than sunscreen and won't destroy the coral reefs, though--just sayin'.)
 
Because my feeling yesterday was NO, I'm sorry, I'm not making "one-time payments" online or over the phone right now.

I need time to heal.

So yesterday was a day of financial and emotional healing. I did not write. I read. I dealt with recurring payments that can no longer recur. I planted flower seeds. I took a walk.

I finished knitting a sock. I worked on a blanket.

In short, I unplugged a bit. I didn't go all out and shut down all technology, but I made my needs and interests central to my decisions about how to use it.

Radical.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."