It never fails. For almost 20 years of marriage, every time we get a little windfall, that's a sure sign that there will be an equal-sized emergency within a very short window of time that will put us right back at square one. I know deep down that I should be (and I try to be) thankful that God never lets us get too far behind in this calculus, but it is almost comical how the pattern tends to play itself out.
Take this week, for example. About a month ago, my kids were riding with a friend when her car was hit by a careless driver. Nobody was seriously hurt; my oldest was a little bruised, but we chalked it up to "no harm, no foul." This week we get a call and a check from Allstate--apparently if you sat for 5 minutes in the ambulance getting checked out, they just send you a blanket check for $250 to cover their tracks. Whoopee! Free money!
Well, before we even get the check in the bank, right as we're settling in for the traditional (dare I say, sacramental) Sunday nap, my middle kid bangs like mad on the bedroom door. "HELP! THE TOILET IS OVERFLOWING!" So, like any good homeowner, I grab a plunger and wade in (yes, I had to wade--yuck) to battle. No luck. Finally, we get the bright idea to bail out the offending potty and dump the cruddy water in the one working toilet. No dice--THAT one overflows, too. Worse, the water shut-off valve is stuck, so we get an inch of water in the master bath. I have a friend who's a plumber, so I called his cell. He answers... from 100 miles away. He says to call Roto-Rooter.
Well, the Roto-Rooter guy comes out and spends the afternoon with us. Nice guy. He roots out the main sewer line for a while... no luck. Then he goes through the drain in the master shower (which by this time has 4 inches of sewage water backed up in it--lovely, especially considering that Ann spent Saturday cleaning the shower top-to-bottom). Still no luck. At this point he's muttering that in 5 years of roto-rooting he's never had this much trouble with a main line before. Finally he goes through the pipes of the master bathroom sink, and with a giant slurping sound, all of the water starts to recede. I almost expected to see a rainbow over the house. Final cost: $234. Thank you, Lord, for a net gain of $16. We may celebrate at McDonalds, but we'll have to eat off of the dollar menu!
Still, I can't complain. That's why it's good policy to have the old Dave Ramsey "Emergency Fund." There were times in our financial life when a $234 plumbing emergency would have been an economic disaster, rather than an amusing (if somewhat gross) story. I don't really miss the money. But man, I miss getting my nap!