On Saturday, November 4th, I mailed my monthly home equity payment. I know I mailed the payment because that was the day I took my car in to have it serviced. I walked from the shop to the post office to mail the check. It was the only thing I mailed. I used a comic-book stamp — The Flash — hoping to speed the check on its way. (Yes, I really do silly stuff like that.)

Payment wasn’t due until the 18th of November. The check had to travel from Portland, Oregon to Memphis, Tennessee. It had plenty of time. When it hadn’t cleared the bank by the 16th, I phoned to see what was the matter. They hadn’t received the check. “What should I do?” I asked the customer service rep.

“You can make a payment from your savings account,” she told me, and so I did. I made the payment for $50 more than the amount of the check. (So that I could tell the transactions apart.) It cleared within a couple of days.

Time passed. November turned to December. December waxed and then began to wane. My check still hadn’t cleared. “Maybe I did something wrong,” I thought. “Maybe the address wasn’t showing. Maybe I didn’t include a stamp and return address. Maybe it got eaten by the mail sorter.”

Finally, on December 18th, the check posted at my bank, 44 days after I mailed it.

Moral: Remember the story I shared about the person who was in foreclosure because of assuming mortgage payments were being deducted from a bank account? This could have been like that, but on a much smaller scale. Within reason, keep tabs on your finances. Also, an unspoken moral here is to never assume a check is lost. Either issue a stop payment on a wayward check, or keep the money in the bank to cover it.

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