It was interview day! Having spent almost three decades as a real estate agent, I knew about paperwork. When I started as an agent in 1984, the purchase contract was a mere two pages. By the time I did my last transaction, the contract alone was ten pages! And then there were countless addendums, disclosures, CC&R’s, and regulations. Oh, yeah, I know about paperwork.
I diligently gathered everything on the list to present to the apartment people – six months bank statements, two years tax returns … Oh, wait! I didn’t have tax returns. I didn’t make enough money to file. I had checked with my tax man to make sure. Social security was my only official source of income now that I was on my own. Turns out the Costa Rica marriage to hubby number six didn’t count in the U.S. so that simplified matters.
The bottom line on my bank account surely would meet the guidelines for the low-income housing program. I left the interview feeling confident that I would get the rubber stamp of approval and be moving in within a matter of days. None too soon as far as I was concerned. Although Lynn and Lucas never made me feel that I was intruding, I felt that Toby and I had overstayed our welcome in their small apartment.
I was shocked when I got the phone call from the apartment manager. “Hi, Carole. We need you to come in. Your bank statements show more income than you claimed.”
Ahhhh, the book money. Money from the sale of “Flying High with Carole Jean.” And the money from selling all my worldly goods before leaving Costa Rica. Yes, I can explain.
And so I did. In writing. I can understand how, on paper, I looked better than I should have. I explained again. “Every penny of that money went to pay down the credit card debt that I incurred as a result of trying to help a friend in trouble with the IRS. I never even saw that money – it was wired directly into her account. She promised to pay it back within a matter of days, but there has been delay after delay. She swears the money is coming. But don’t worry. The rent will be paid first.”
“Okay. I’ll send this to the auditor’s office and call you in a few days,” she said.
I stared at the phone for three days. Nothing. On day four, I caved. “Oh, I was just going to call you. You need to get a non-filing status letter from the IRS. If you do it by mail, it will take two or three weeks. Or you can go in person and get it immediately.”
The following day, my sister, Linda Sue, and I set out for the IRS office in Oakland. The parking garage across the street wanted an exorbitant amount for the first half-hour, and it wasn’t much better for the next few hours reaching a maximum that was beyond our budget. As she started to pull in, I blurted, “No! It’s too much. Let’s ride around and look for street parking.”
“Oh, okay. I’ll do it. Just go in and I’ll park and find you inside,” she said.
“Great idea! ‘K. See you in a few.”
As I climbed the massive steps and spotted the armed guards near the entrance to the building, I felt like Dorothy entering the house of the Great Oz. I gave myself a pep talk – shoulders back, head high, march forward. As I approached the entry, I saw the security check-point. The knife! I screamed in my head. They will confiscate my knife. I couldn’t lose it now, not after carrying it all these years. It had belonged to a dear friend and I had been carrying it since he committed suicide in 1998. I ran back down the stairs to the street and whipped out my phone.
“Linda! Where are you parked? I have to put my knife in the car!”
“Look across the street. I’m right here,” she smiled and rolled her window down. “I’ll just wait here while you get the papers. There’s no parking, so I’ll just sit here. Take your time. Just get it done.” She raised her eyebrows in surprise when I tossed the 6″ knife on the passenger seat, and started laughing as I scampered away.
It was worth the two hour wait to get what I hoped would be the final document for the apartment. I fully intended to drive to Capitola immediately to hand deliver the papers. In my mind, they would say, “Oh, thanks. That’s all we need. Here are your keys!”
Linda Sue never uttered a complaint about waiting in the car for two hours. I felt it was a bit much to ask her to now drive an hour and a half each way to deliver the papers. Especially since it was a Friday and traffic is horrendous. I called the office. “I have the IRS papers. Will it go faster if I hand deliver today?”
She answered, “No. You can just FAX them. They won’t be processed until Monday, anyway. We’ll call you.”
I stared at the phone on Monday. I stared at the phone on Tuesday. On Wednesday, just as I was about to call them, the phone rang. Yes, it was the number of the apartment people.
“Hi, Carole. I have good news!”
After I started breathing again, I thought, What about Toby?
To be continued…