Round Figures

The call was from Sara at the bank. She sounded concerned.

“Mr. Wolfsie, I wanted to let you know as quickly as I could. It’s about your checking account.”

“I think I know why you’re calling,” I said, dreading the worst. “How much are we talking about here?

“$3.32,” she said. “You added your mail deposit incorrectly and we had to issue you a credit. I am sorry to bring you the bad news.”

I hung up and accessed my account online. Sara was correct. I looked in disbelief, but there it was: my correct balance was now $1,003.32. How could this happen? I quickly hit the “Pay Bills” button and sent $3.32 to my Shell Oil credit card. It barely paid for a gallon of gas, but that was not the point of the transaction. My account now had an even one thousand dollars. I could feel my blood pressure returning to normal.

This preoccupation with round numbers is really the only compulsion I suffer from as long as you don’t count making sure that all my hangers in the closet point in the same direction and that the shirts themselves are completely buttoned while awaiting their turn to be worn. But who doesn’t do that?

When I get an electric bill for $87.45, I send them $100. Why? First, because I require even numbers in my checkbook, and second, because the next month my bill will be about $13.00 less. If I keep doing this for about nine months, all of a sudden I get a month free from IPL. I bet they have no idea I’m pulling something over on them.

This fixation goes way back. When I first started driving in the ’60s, I always put exactly $5 worth of gas in the tank. In the ’70s it was $10. Then $20, $30, $40 … now $50. Never $40.92 or $50.13. Even if getting to $50.00 results in some spillage, I think that’s worth a good night’s sleep, don’t you?

OK, I know what’s happening now. Half of the people reading this are saying things like: “Hey, Gladys, you have to hear this: Dick Wolfsie does exactly what I do. I wonder if he also re-ties his shoes before he puts them away in his closet? (Note to those readers: I do.)

Others are saying: “Herb, Dick Wolfsie is nuttier than a pecan pie. He gives the electric company extra money. He must have an IQ of about 85.” (Note to those readers: I like to round that up to 100.)

Mary Ellen hates this trait in me and watches me closely to be sure that this preoccupation does not cost us extra money. When the water bill comes in for $97.18, she insists I write a check for exactly $97.18. How incredibly weird is that? Is she trying to drive me insane?

Of course, this obsession does have its downside …

“I’m afraid I have to write you a ticket, Mr. Wolfsie. You were going 76 mph in a 55 mph zone. That’s gonna cost you $175.00.”

“Gee, officer, it’s my first offense. Can you cut me a break? How about 80 miles per hour and let’s make it an even 200?”

By the way, in case you’re interested, I’m 60 years old. I also like rounding down.