Tuesday, January 31, 2006

End of the month at the end of my rope

SBC (or AT&T as the Texans now like to be known) took pity on me: Both my old numbers now funnel into my new one, here at the latest undisclosed location. And I've unpacked now, mostly. In fact, I got ambitious enough yesterday evening to check my voice mail: And when I did I found that the $100,000 check, a check that might someday be a running gag, but is now a running sore, was returned -- again -- because the paying bank didn't like the way my bank accepted the check for deposit.

My bank must have called my new office number. I had a voice mail on that line warning people that the move had not yet taken place and that, if it was something important, they should call me at my old office. But the bank didn't call the old number, the young lady from the bank just left a message waiting for me to find last evening.

Maybe a $100,000 returned check is not that big a deal to my bank -- even though it plunges my client fund account some $25,000 or more in the red. Maybe my bank figures it shouldn't be a big deal -- and it shouldn't have been. My bank guaranteed of the absence of an endorsement on this check, based on its possession of a check authorization -- a long, long awaited check authorization. But I reluctantly conclude that this must be a big deal after all -- because the paying bank doesn't want to pay.

Who would? Why pay money out when you can use it indefinitely by jerking some small time operator around?

But in the meantime -- well, I had drawn on the funds. I've already spent the money. I sent my client her share. I took my share and gave it away to various and sundry creditors.

And I wrote a great big check on that same client fund account to pay a contractor in a different case. Most of the money that remains in that account is there for that different case -- and some of that money needs to be pulled out. But, right now, that can't be a good idea.

This, I can assure you, is a bad state of affairs. As the name implies, client fund accounts don't belong to the lawyer. They belong to the clients whose funds I'm supposed to safeguard therein. Sometimes some of these funds may become my fees. Eventually. But people can lose their license to practice over mismanagement of these types of funds. I haven't mismanaged anything: I've been shafted by a bank. But I don't want to have to explain the circumstances to the appropriate authorities: I just want the problem to be resolved. We shall see.

Ah, what a month January has turned out to be. I lost a week to the worst cold ("upper respiratory infection") I've had in years. I've stressed over the extreme absence of funds, finally breaking the drought in mid-month (or so I thought at the time). I've packed. I've moved. I've sent out notices about moving (and more must still be sent). I've replaced lost ID and charge cards. And I have billed hardly any time at all. Right now -- if you can overlook the $100,000 debacle -- things aren't too bad. (Of course, that's like saying if you can overlook the Himalayas, Tibet is a very flat place.)

But I have to assume that we'll get past this $100,000 issue eventually. What will compound these difficulties is that I have no current time to bill now. Bills that would be paid in March or April. So March and April figure to be just grand.

And the Old Curmudgeon is self-employed. I just sent in my quarterly payroll returns -- and paid my annual unemployment tax.

Now, I have no employees. Just me. And employers pay unemployment tax as a hedge against their employees someday making unemployment claims. So does that mean I can lay myself off and collect unemployment? Heck, I've paid for the privilege, after all.

Bet you already guessed the answer.

Darn it.

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