I picked up the ‘phone and there was a fax tone. ‘More junk faxes’, I thought. There is some firm in England that is always sending me faxes about miracle diets and another that offers life-changing medication. We rarely use the fax machine and I keep on meaning to reset the ‘phone so that it won’t accept faxes (if I could find the manual that gives the instructions).
The fax was five pages long from Dublin City Council, ‘the Corpo’, and was intended for a local firm; their water rates for the year it seems are €106,536.73. I was interested to see that they had accumulated this amount by not paying their charges for the last five quarters. I wondered if ordinary people would be allowed such a generous amount of arrears.
The fax came to us because our ‘phone number ends ’80’, it was intended for a ‘phone number ending ’08’. No-one made any attempt afterwards to pick up the ‘phone to check that the fax had actually reached the intended recipients. The City Council’s own machine should have told them that it was going to the wrong place; obviously no-one bothered to check.
I know a lady who works in the accounts department of the firm for which the account was intended. I ‘phoned her and got her answering machine. ‘Hi’, I said, ‘just ‘phoning to say you owe the City Council €106,000. You can have the account if you want it’.
I used to get annoyed by such things. In times past, I would have picked up the ‘phone to the City Council. Now I have decided that life is too short and that there are other far more important things on which to spend my time.
Reinhold Niebuhr’s ‘Serenity Prayer’ is probably much misused, but I use it anyway.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Things that cannot be changed include the Corpo and I am wise enough not to try.