Late Fees and Lost Checks

Among the 1,001 things on my mind, I forgot to pay my credit card bill. The debt collectors were calling, and I was going to snap.
ADHD & the City | posted by Jane D.
Jane D.

The collection agency called. For an adult with ADD, that god-awful (801) area code stands out like a flash at high noon (my favorite line from The Bell Jar).

Deep down I knew that somehow, just somehow, I had screwed it up. There was a lost check, a credit card payment that hadn’t gone through, and a bill forgotten among the 1,001 things that cartwheel in my mind most of the time. I have been there before, and I was there again.

In a dressing room, as I tried on clothes and bathing suits, I conducted the ultimate feat of multitasking—tugging at a too-tight pair of jeans, worried as hell that my friend waiting outside would lose her patience, and dealing with the collection agency on the phone: customer service Gestapo.

I’ve been through the routine: the litany of white lies that gets me off the finance charge and periodic fee hook. This time, I had missed the bill by a week. I remembered paying it online, but, of course, could no longer remember the credit card number, the checking number, what day I paid, and all the other bits that most people have no trouble recalling. I could feel my patience waning like a rubber band being stretched very thin. I was going to snap.

Anger and frustration rose like water at near boiling point, mostly because it was my fault. I lots track of the days and the impulsive purchases—including the clothes and iced coffees and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream that make up the fat of the bill.

My reaction this time was no different than previous times. I got mad at the poor soul on the other end, and did the familiar whine—but I did pay! Do you have my address right (because I’ve moved a dozen times anyway)? I never got the statement; you guys suck, because I did pay and you forgot to send out the payment.

In the meantime, the line should really go, “I’m sorry I messed up, please forgive me and, pretty please, take off the charges.” By the end of the conversation, I had spent a record 45 minutes on the phone in the dressing room and had an angry friend waiting outside.

I feel like I’m living life in a confessional booth. But there are no exceptions or excuses, I know, especially since ADD is invisible and, on the hierarchy of disorders and diseases, seems more humane than hearing voices or cutting one’s wrists.

On a bright note, the charges were taken off. I have nine lives, but still, I feel shitty, like I need to find a way to get my ducks in order. I’ve been there before, and I’ll be there again.

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