“I thought you canceled this.” She said pointing to one particular line printed on my paycheck. I took it from her and and looked at the line for a few moments. “I thought I did too.” I responded confused and suddenly panicked when I realized how much money had been take out of my paycheck for health benefits I assumed I had canceled.
Instantly I felt like I couldn’t breath and had a panic attack.
I feel like I don’t have panic attacks much, but when I do they are either because someone has said something very hurtful or they have something to do with money. Usually the money thing hits a little harder and more instantly than people saying mean things. People say mean things all the time, but not anymore mean than I do to myself. Hurtful words have to fester for a while. This time, it was money, and I was freaking out.
The story starts with a viewing of an apartment. It went well. I really enjoyed the area, it was close to work, and in thought I could afford it. After the visit my mom and I sat down to refine my budget. We were looking at my pay stubs and my mother noticed that money was being taken out of my account for health benefits (not insurance) that I had terminated within 90 days of enrolling. What had caused me to panic was how much had been taken out of my paycheck year-to-date: over $500 worth of cash.
When I had enrolled I to the benefits, it was all done online. I recalled asking my HR representative when I was considering canceling, how I would go about canceling. She wasn’t sure. So I went back online to check, and make sure there wasn’t an option to cancel. There was an online process, so I went through it and it was finished. I received my confirmation and I threw all my paperwork and benefit cards away, shredding them confidently. Why should I keep them? I don’t need them! They’re useless!
I was angry at myself.
I ranted for about an hour, going through periods where I had to stop and sit on my bed to try to breath so I didn’t hyperventilate. My mom tried to comfort me. I was so upset at how stupid I had been not to look at my pay stubs. I thought nothing of it. All my money is direct deposited and my cash was going where it needed to go. Why would I have to keep track of things? You idiot. You foolish idiot. You don’t even deserve to move out. You can’t even do something as simple as look at your check!
When I had calmed down I called my manager about it and asked if she had information that I could contact our provider. Since our HR person transferred to a different store our manager has been doing all out HR work, and she felt just as helpless as I did. So she told me she would contact our former HR person to see if there was anything they could do. I wasn’t very optimistic, but I told her that I would keep looking for solutions.
I didn’t know how or where I would look. I sat at my computer trying to remember the website that I was supposed to use to enroll in the first place. It was no use. I couldn’t remember. I felt very lost.
About an hour later I was sitting in the living room having a pity party for myself, when I suddenly recalled something. When I had first enrolled, I thought that I had taken a screen shot of my confirmation screen, in case I needed it. I quickly ran to my computer and looked at my messy desktop. No such luck. Then I scoured my documents. Nope. Not there. Defeated I started at my screen tearing up. What if I hadn’t actually unenrolled and I was constantly going to be having money taken out of my check for a service I wasn’t using? What if the only way to stop it was to quit? I like my job! I felt very hopeless. Fatalistic is one of my automatic settings. Sad and fatalistic. I lowered my head down onto my desk in defeat, hitting my head on my surprisingly solid harddrive. I picked up my head and rubbed it. The man had won.
Time machine backed up all my files! I just and to remember when I enrolled and I could pull up the memory of when the screenshot was on my desktop! I thought back and recalled my benefits being active in September, so I I looked at the backup dates before September. Only four in October. Pulled up the desktop folders, each in suspense. There it was. There was an 800 number. I was so lucky. I called, doubtful anyone would answer. It was already after 6 pm. I went through the call tree and crossed my fingers.
I got someone.
I explained my situation, and she confirmed that my account had been canceled and the amount of money they had received was correct, she seemed pretty surprised no one caught it. She said she would contact their billing department so the financial situation could be brought up to our corporate treasury office. I was relieved. Very thankful that someone had been available and even more so that I had a witness of the situation. Someone who could confirm by their records that there was a mistake. She assured me that someone, somewhere would do all they could to make sure I was reimbursed the money I was owed. I couldn’t help but wonder who had dropped the ball, and where that money was actually going.
I thanked her, skeptical, but appreciative of her help, even if I never saw the money again. Perhaps at the very least the money would no longer be taken out of my paycheck and I would have a better looking budget. Maybe I would get a sweet check. Maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe someone would get fired. Maybe not. I still couldn’t help but wonder, if the money was going to an account that doesn’t exist, then where was the money going? Back to my company? Then…who didn’t notice? Or worse…who was taking my money?
I hung up and patted myself on the back, attempting to emotionally reinstate my self image. Letting all other worries become tomorrow’s problems. I wasn’t foolish or stupid. I had done the right things, I just had to take some time and quit panicking over it so I could think. I wasn’t useless. I wasn’t an idiot. I wasn’t immature and unprepared for life. I had to offer myself grace once again. One of the hardest tasks I charge myself with is offering myself grace. Forgiving myself for mistakes. This time I had redeemed myself. This time had not been as stressful as I thought it could be. It might be more stressful, even from now forward, because there might be complications to receiving my money owed me and the companies might fight each other over this, but for now my mind is at ease. I can’t think of the bad. All I can do is think of the blessing it was to recall the things I had done right.
Praise The Lord for mistakes and learning experiences!