Unwanted Gifts, Ahead by a Whisker

slinky on the desk

Slinky lounging on my desk

I’m ready to pull my hair out, but I’m having a hot cup of tea instead. I’m trying to sooth my nerves. A curled up Slinky sits next to me on the desk and the leaves outside my window are finally turning orange. Breathe, Alys, breathe.

We have a standing joke that when my husband travels on long business trips, something in the house breaks.  I think of myself as capable in a crisis, but computers and home appliances are generally outside of my purview.  He left town late Thursday, and on Friday the dishwasher stopped working. Initially, I refused to believe it. It was one of those weeks. I played with the buttons, hoping it was just the light. Next I went outside and checked the fuse box. All appeared to be in order, but I reset it anyway and came back inside. No luck. I got down on my knees to see if the machine came unplugged. Isn’t it nice when it’s something that obvious? That’s when I saw the frayed cord. Chewed, actually. Did I mention the unwanted gift?

mouse looking round

Mouse doing his Butterball turkey impression

Mouse (a cat) likes to catch rats (alive and well) and bring them in the house. The cat flap is now firmly closed and any open door carefully monitored. You know what they say about hindsight. Mouse brought us a gift anyway, and it’s alive and well, living in a little condo formerly known as my under-sink cabinet. There is a small hole to allow the hose and plug to the dishwasher to pass under the sink. The other side of the cabinet has a similar opening for a water pipe. For a week  now, the rat has been passing between the two holes, but firmly out of reach.  My oldest son made a humane rat trap based on internet research, but the rat apparently has a Ph.D. and refused to fall for it. We tried two different containers, baited with delicious peanut butter and crackers but to no avail.  We put down a ‘test cracker’ to be sure he was still coming around and that cracker disappeared.  Clever rodent.

Last night I found a small, humane trap online at Home Depot. I stopped by the local store this morning, but it isn’t in stock. The smaller size is only available online. The store clerk, a kind and helpful man, tried to order it for me three times using my credit card. The system kept sending a message that the account number and address didn’t match. Of course they did, but we reentered it again and again to no avail.  After several more attempts using two different credit cards and finally PayPal, the annoying message persisted.

Back home I called around, still hoping to get my hands on a small, humane trap in town. The Humane Society doesn’t sell them, and the traps available at Lowe’s and Home Depot are for larger animals.  Desperate to get my hands on a trap, I called the Home Depot 800 number and explained the problem. She said I would have to call my financial institution to clear the hold on my account.

I called my credit union and they told me I didn’t have a hold on my account. I logged on to see if there was  a problem with the first credit card I tried using and found four separate charges to Home Depot, each for one dollar.

target home depot screen capture

Pending transactions?

Don’t worry, the tea is helping and I still have most of my hair. I’m trying to breathe in and out with the rhythm of the cat. Breathe…breathe…breathe.

I made a note of Target’s 800 number and gave them a call. I pushed numbers and pound signs and cycled through the proffered choices. A recorded voice told me my balance, the date of my last payment, my recent charges…pretty much everything but what to do about those charges and how to make my card work again.

The game’s not over yet, but I’m sitting on the bench for a spell. I don’t know the current score, but I’m pretty sure the rat is ahead by more than a whisker.