The Day It Arrived

Generally It comes the first week of the month, but since the first fell on Wednesday it was anyone’s guess when It might arrive. There was no way to avoid It but I hoped that It would come the following Monday to avoid spoiling the weekend plans we had to enjoy the “tax free” shopping.
Thursday after work I approached the mail box carefully, slowly opening the door. Nothing, bullet dodged. Friday was the same. We decided to delay our shopapoluza departure to await It’spossible arrival. Most Saturdays the mail was there by 10:00 AMbut I started the watch at 9:00 AM, just to be safe.
“What in the world are you doing”, my wife asked as she came down the stairs.
“Waiting for It, of course,” I replied while peering through the window via a little slit in the drapes. Our entire day hinged on It, she knew that, we had talked about It the night before. She sighed and continued to the kitchen.
“Cup of coffee, please” I said in a shallow voice in the off chance that the carrier was early; I wouldn’t want to alarm him.
The It in question was the electrical bill for the hottest July I had ever had the displeasure of enduring. There was no avoiding the bill, I felt rather helpless. We had done everything the electric company recommended on their website. Thermostat set on 78 degrees or above, fluorescent light bulbs throughout the house, fans running; avoid peak hours of consumption…. I even put sheets up on windows we didn’t have treatments on. From the street the Western side of the house looked like it was being occupied by squatters. Surely that had been enough to squeeze the electrical tap.
9:30 AM – No mail and worse yet, no coffee. In my mind I tried to remember the largest bill we had received. I think it was $315 a couple of summers back. Could this one be worse? The kids could wait until September for their back to school clothes, but what other cuts would need to be made?
10:00 AM – No mail but at least the wife came through with the coffee, though she seemed less than thrilled when I reminded her of the coffee pot mantra, “If it’s less than half a jug, you really need to pull the plug.” I mentioned we were doing everything we could.
10:45 AM – I caught him out of the corner of my eye. As he approached the porch he peered at the window almost as if he knew that I was there, would he hold the parcel that I was anticipating out of spite? I pulled back ever so slowly and moved to the window on the side of the house to make sure he was a couple down before I darted out to retrieve the contents of the box.
I placed the stack on the breakfast nook table. Publishers Clearing House, political mailer, March of Dimes….. It . I held It up. Somehow I thought It would be larger or heavier than a normal bill, but it appeared to be normal, maybe we were OK.
As I pulled It from the envelope my wife had a look of despair. It was the largest, trumping its nearest competitor by more than $150.
“So much for school shopping” I said sighing, “maybe we should just move into one of those extended stay motels, it’s got to be cheaper than this.”
After reading about the constant power outages in India we should be happy to have this precious giver of light and more importantly air-conditioning, but that doesn’t make the bill any less painful.
Maybe I can send one of those really big checks to my friends at the electric company, like the winners at pro golf tournaments get. That would at least give me a little chuckle in between the tears.

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