Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The $17,400.00 Check Arrived...

With all those hundreds of self-portraits I've shot this is one of perhaps only two or three where I used the self timer. About the only mail I get in this box is junk. I use my P.O. box address for the important stuff. Still, I thought it made for an interesting picture, and an excuse to tell this story, although I made the photo a week or so before the story unfolded.

Like most of us ,I suppose, I occasionally get somebody else's mail mixed in with mine, or receive a letter a day or so later than expected, sometimes ripped open and taped shut, with "Delivered to wrong address" scribbled on the envelope. It happens.

This morning as I got out of the truck at the post office I noticed the glint of copper and picked up a shiny penny. My mother always called them "lucky pennies", I suppose because you were lucky that you found one. That was a time when gumball machines were everywhere and you could buy a gumball for a penny. The decal on the glass globe said that the proceeds went to the Kiwanis Club Crippled Childrens' Fund. There was no preventitive vaccine or cure for polio as yet, and there were a lot of crippled children.

I took the stack of envelopes out of my P.O. box, walked over to the counter by the window next to the half full trash bin,and started slitting open the envelopes. When I saw an unexpected check I started thinking "Wow! That WAS a lucky penny!" Then I noticed that it was for 17,400 and some odd dollars and cents! FANTASTIC! Then I noticed it was from some government department in Palm Beach County. The elation started to fade. Finally I realized that it was made out to some construction company with a box number close to mine. I dejectedly walked over to the "Whoops, Wrong Box" mail slot and dropped it in.

On the way home I started thinking that if I'd just had a small pile of checks to deposit I probably could have got it deposited into my account. Donna rarely if ever does more than make sure that I've endorsed the checks when I give her a deposit. From there on it's all electronic, nobody reading names. As I saw it, the big problem would be Palm Beach County. If it was one of our more inept and/or corrupt local governments like Opa Locka, Hialeah, the City of Miami, even Metro-Dade County, chances are nobody would ever notice. Here's a Miami Herald story about tens of thousands going astray:
>>>"Stackhouse received another $75,000 using invoices his former bookkeeper said she created on her computer, according to interviews and requisitions. In all, the newspaper found more than $500,000 in double billing and dubious expenses.
''If it were $500,000 -- and I doubt that it is -- what is that? Five percent of what's been spent,'' Stackhouse told The Miami Herald when confronted in June."<<<


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