new short story collection. Out now!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Honourable Bank Fees

If you have a cheque account,do you know how much your financial institution charges you for cheque dishonours? When you do not have sufficient funds in your account to cover the cheque and it causes the institution to collapse from the pressure exerted on them by having to cover your cheque so that they payee can receive their money, do you know how much they charge you for that unspeakable inconvenience?

We're with the Greater Building Society. We have a fee free savings/cheque account. Well it's not entirely fee free because they do charge $30 for a cheque dishonour fee. I believe the NAB charges $45. Maybe the extra $15 is to deal with the extra advertising and administrative costs associated with being one of the Big Four.

Anyway, here's my story. It's a story about honour and common sense and good customer service.

We wrote a cheque to pay a specialist doctor's bill. At the time of writing, there were sufficient funds. My pay is deposited into the account every week and every second week I receive an additional pay packet from my other job. Three weeks after I wrote the cheque and one day before I was due to be paid, the doctor cashed the cheque and it bounced. GBS said you owe us $30, and the doctor said we had still to settle the account and pay the $45 that their bank had charged them for the cheque bouncing. Does that even make sense? So, we were up for $75 on top of the original bill because of bad timing.

I know the official line is that it is the responsibility of the cheque writer to make sure there are sufficient funds to cover the cheque. Fair enough, but it's a bit tricky when you have no idea when the person you pay with a cheque is going to cash the thing, and you use all available funds in your account between pay packets to pay bills. I felt this was unfair.

To cut a long story short, I asked GBS to waive the fee which they did, and then I wrote to the doctor to say that, having made a cash payment for the original invoice amount, I now considered the account settled and they should talk to their bank about the $45 because there was no way on earth that I was going to pay it.

I thank GBS for being fair and rewarding us as loyal customers, but this is just one small example of the kinds of rip offs and little injustices that go on all the time. Sometimes you just have to stand up and say 'enough', and this time I did. I encourage to do the same.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Spread the Love

Most families have had their share of domestic disturbance. From trivial bickering over what to watch on television to the unspeakable horrors of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Families have been torn apart by tragedies like grief and infidelity, and by overwhelming financial burdens. The Beatles told us that love was all we needed, but look around. It isn't enough. Fifty percent of marriages fail.How many more continue in perpetual misery?

Some have suggested that monogamy is unnatural and, that forcing people together forever, or at least until death they do part, is rather like the artificial construction of political nations from disparate ethnic and religious groups who happen to share some geography. In other words, doomed for disater. There is a pattern around the world, particularly in African and Eastern Europe, of nation states devolving into smaller ethnically based nations. It can be argued that this is more natural.

Similarly, it can be argued that it is more natural for people to spread their love around a bit. Love here, is plainly a euphemism for sexual relationships which again, according to some, flow very naturally out of friendships. This is not the forum for debating the pros and cons of monogamy but it does raise an interesting question.

Can people who cheat on their partners still love them? Is it reasonable for a man to have a sexual relationship or even a very intimate emotional relationship with another woman and say that he still loves his wife or girlfriend? Can a man love two or even more women? Equally?

There is man in India named Ziona. He has 32 wives and 94 children. They all live together in one pretty big house in Eastern India. Think about that. This situation raises enough intrigue to fill a book, but of relevance to the current discussion is the question of whether the man loves his wives. Is it possible? Obviously he has sex with them but sex and love aren't the same thing. There is hell of a lot of loveless sex going on in this world. Does he love them? Does he have enough love for each of the women he has married? Obviously, he does not have sufficient time for each of them unless their definition of sufficient, and his, is ridiculously low. Immeasurably lower than most of ours. Fascinating.

I have one wife and no girlfriends or mistresses, so for me to answer the question posed earlier is a long stretch into the realm of the hypothetical. Could I love two women? I don't see why not. I don't, but I really can't see why that would not be possible. The closest analogy I can draw is loving our children. It is an imperfect analogy, I know but it's the best one available. I didn't have to use some of the love I already had for my son to love my daughter when she was born. I found some more. If we had have had a third child, I would have had more love available for that child as well with no diminution of my love for my other children. I don't know if that would be elastic enough to stretch to 94 children, (as Ziona in India has), but I can't see why not.

I believe that love originates with God. God is love. God is infinite and therefore love is infinite. God finances our love from his inexhaustible supply of it, but would he provide the love I would need to love a woman who wasn't my wife? I don't want to know the answer to that question.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

All Things are Pure

French convict, Henri Chariere, a.k.a. Papillion, was planning the final stage of his getaway. Having already miraculously defied the odds to escape from the penal island, Royale, he needed a boat to sail to British Guiana where he and his friends believed they would be allowed to settle as free men.

Another escapee, a Chinese man called Ciu-Ciu, arranged to buy a boat off a negro woodcutter whom he called Chocolate. Having inspected the boat, and seen it was basically sound, Papillion cut a deal with Chocolate which included a satisfactory price and the purchase of some other supplies for their journey. Papillion tore some bank notes in half and told Chocolate he could have the other half when he delivered the finished boat and the other supplies.

When the day arrived for them to settle, Chocolate had done exactly as he was required. Papillion was impressed by the faithfulness of this man who was willing to help a stranger, an escaped convict. Chocolate had brought his half of the bank notes and asked Papillion to stick the notes together again for him. It apparently never occurred to Chocolate not to trust Papillion, or that Papillion might simply keep the money for himself after he rejoined the halves.

Chocolate was a simple man: a honest, hardworking man who wanted to believe the best of Papillion, and of people in general. He could not imagine people were deceptive because he himself was without guile. He had seen first hand the inhumane treatment that prisoners received from their captors in penal settlements like Royale, so he wanted to help Papillion escape and start a new life. Papillion saw God in this man.

"To the pure, all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their deeds..." (Titus 1:15,16)

Friday, June 11, 2010

book review: Hoping For Hope by Lucy Clare

Hoping for Hope Hoping for Hope by Lucy Clare


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Very well told story. Multiple POV seemed a bit overdone particularly random Jake's view but Hope's cameo at the end was good. Good ending. So glad to have read a book and not been disappointed by the ending. Sharply drawn characters even if a little stronger/stereotypical than believable. Overall A surprisingly enjoyable read.

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wetting the Towel that Dries You

Original sayings are as rare as hen's teeth theses days. It says in Ecclesiastes there is nothing new under the sun, and who can deny it? Words are repackaged and reworked but at the end of the day, the song remains the same. Soon we will all hear the mother of all cliches, the straw that breaks the camel's back in terms of our ability to endure tired old adages.

Many hands make light work but too many cooks can sometimes spoil the broth especially if there are more chiefs than indians, so if a stitch in time saves nine, it is high time this plague of aphorisms was nipped in the bud. Maybe the horse has already bolted and although we may be able to lead it to the freshwater of originality, we may not be able to make it drink.

There is apparently a cute little platitude for every experience and situation, but we've heard it all before. We should all pull up our socks and dig deep to unearth some new maxims with meaning. Maybe we could scrape the bottom of the barrel and see if there is any light at the end of this tunnel of torpid tale telling. At the very least we should tighten our belts and avoid verbal extravagance.

However, what we should not do is wet the towel that dries us, that is to say we should not throw out the baby with the bathwater or bite the hand that feeds us. That would be madness. We need words to communicate. Words have power. The pen is mightier than the sword. James talks about the restless evil that is the tongue and he tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Be wise with your words.

Here is a trustworthy saying which rises above the pack, and deserves full acceptance: 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst.' (1 Timothy 1:15)