Monday, December 7, 2009

Ghosts of the Past and Dingbats of the Present

One of the primary drawbacks of motherhood, particularly mothering a large number of people, is keeping some sort of order to the vast amount of information coming in. I, myself, do this very poorly. I have little piles and big piles and part way piles and totally disordered piles. I have bags and boxes of somewhat but not quite ordered stuff.

Last week Joe bought tags for two of our vehicles. After he got home, he got a call from the gal in Fosston who had sold him the tags. She reported that in the process of finishing up our paperwork, she discovered that we had already purchased tags for one of the vehicles. Shoot!

Ms Motor Vehicles said that she could temporarily hold the transaction and if we found the previously purchased tags could refund our money. Otherwise, she could run the transaction as a set of duplicate tags which would cost a portion of the full amount and she could refund most of our money.

Well, money being money, we decided to at least make an attempt at finding the tags. I had a vague memory of purchasing the tags. But I had no memory of doing anything with them. Shoot! I had recently re-sorted the piles on my kitchen counter, in an attempt to find a recipe for Thanksgiving. So I didn't think they were there. But I went through those piles first since they were mostly ordered.

After that I did not know where to start. I tackled some heaps in and around my bedroom desk. Ugh! What a disaster! I made some headway and still no tags. I got what I thought was probably all the piles that I knew to have accumulated within the applicable time frame done. Still no tags. Grr!

Oh, well, I guess we call Ms Motor Vehicles in the morning and ask her refund the mere portion of our fee. We got busy the next morning, and unfortunately calling Ms Motor Vehicles did not enter the brain of either responsible party. Ms Motor Vehicles had warned us that she could not keep the tabs out indefinitely, and that in fact, she was kind of bending the rules to allow us this much time. Again, shoot!

Over the weekend, Joe discovered the tags we had been so earnestly seeking. "Where?" you might ask. Ah, there's the rub. I am ashamed to say they were in the first place we ought to have checked and never thought to check. Firmly adhered to the appropriate license plates.

Rejoice with me for I have found my car tabs!

First thing this morning, Joe called Ms Motor Vehicles and told her the lost was found. Alas, according to her regulations, she had already run the paperwork and after all our searching, we end up paying the portion of the original fee for duplicate tabs.

I am chagrined that my life is such chaos. We live lives of so much ease and luxury. I picture my Grandparents Hinderer looking much like American Gothic. They lived very tough lives. They worked hard from sun up until sun down. Even in their later years, the years of their lives that I remember, they rarely smiled. They are part of the generation of Americans I think of as the Somber Generation.

I can't ever imagine them losing vehicle tabs. They were very proper and orderly and they held themselves to very high standards. I said one to my Mom, when discussing the idea of running late, "I'm sure even Grandma and Grandpa Hinderer were late now and then." Mom replied, "Never. Grandpa would not have allowed it."

That was, for me, just a glimpse into a kind of attitude that is entirely foreign to us today. "Grandpa would never had allowed it." It is hard for me to imagine. Did he take her out back to the woodshed for a good whooping? Did he not speak to her? What was the end result of his not allowing it?

I am sure I would be an abject failure in the eyes of my Grandpa Hinderer. He would never had allowed heaps and piles and disorder and he would certainly, I'm sure, never had allowed a dingbat wife to lose motor vehicle tabs directly on the vehicle for which they were purchased.


Joe Abrahamson said...

Grandpa and Grandma Hinderer were born in the late 1800s. For most of their lives there was no such thing as a motor vehicle tag. They didn't even have to take a test to get a drivers license. All they had to do was write to the clerk.

Annual income tax started in 1913 at a very low rate. Then in the 1930s they saw all kinds of mischief from the Gov including Social Security which shockingly demanded 4 percent of wage-earner income-and the taking of their land by the Gov. to make the Hanford Nuclear facility.

National License plate registration started in the US in 1957. And even then, annual renewal as a tax didn't take place in most states for quite a while.

Then the Great Society with Medicare and Medicaid demanded a greater portion of his income. But by this time he was retired.

He grew up in a generation that viewed insurance as a sin against the 7th Commandment and the 1st Commandment.

He grew up in a generation where an agreement was made with one's own word and without paper and lawyers.

He grew up in a generation where people kept their word and were not badgered by countless gov. agencies for paperwork to show compliance in every aspect of life.

Furniture was hand made, and you didn't need a license to harvest the trees or to sell the product.

While the demands of survival were more immediate during his lifetime and self-sufficiency was not an option; I believe he had a lot less "official" paperwork to deal with.

Joe Abrahamson said...

Oh, and one other thing.
I'm sure they didn't have to deal with all the 3rd class mail you manage as duplicates for 4 congregations, their youth directors, music directors, the church financial directors, the associate pastors, the sunday school directors, and the other 2 dozen positions we don't have.

theMom said...

re your second comment...Yeah, there is that.

Thanks for vindicating me. I still feel like one ought to be able to do better, however.

Love you sweetie.

madhenmom said...

Good comments from Joe.

I remember making some comments to my parents regarding some cake failure on my part. I mentioned how my grandma would whip up angel food cakes from scratch after milking cows, plowing fields, all of her household chores, etc., so why couldn't I make this simple cake.

My parents looked at me like I was from another planet. Yes, when she was younger she did that, but after she got older she bought mixes or store bought cakes. When the conveniences became available, she took advantage of them.

I'm not advocating cake mixes or store bought cakes in general, but that did help me realize that I had put my grandma on a pedestal she didn't ask to be on.

Maybe your grandparents would have still made everything from scratch. But, I'm sure they would have allowed some conveniences into their lives. And, they would have recognized how much more difficult it is to keep on top of paperwork, much less raise a large family, now, than it was in their time period.

I know how frustrating this whole situation must have been to you, but I could totally relate to the story. Thanks for sharing it.