Saturday, December 8, 2018

Dear General Manu Manu,

Did you know that you are not the only general serving in Kabul, Afghanistan? Both you and the man who calls himself Star General appeared as Facebook friends in my chat room a short time ago.

Both soon showed me how awful serving in Afghanistan could be for a general. You counted the number of soldiers killed that day and clutched your heart, but Star General outdid you. He pulled up photos of desolate Kabul and showed me one of several impromptu burials of his soldiers. It was so sad, the soldier under Afghanistan dirt, and resting beside him his helmet and weapon. Star admitted he wept at the sight. 

What's a poor girl to do but offer heart-self sympathy to the poor weeping generals?

Sure enough, soon after, they professed sudden overwhelming eternal love for me. They wanted kisses. What an odd situation! They in Kabul wanting to kiss me in Nebraska. How will we do that, smack digital lips? Although Star General offered to send me a photo to kiss, a picture of his manhood, a splendid specimen, he assured me.

Here's what else the two of you Generals have in common: your retirement is coming up soon. That's a familiar topic. Of the two dozen or so military men in my earlier chat rooms coming up for retirement, all required someone like me to pay for their tickets home to my waiting arms in Nebraska. Just a loan, of course.

I was tempted, now and then, to pay a General's ticket home just to see if he would actually come to Nebraska, but I refrained.

Sometimes when I think about the generals, I wonder if they are scammers like so many Facebook "friends" who profess ever lasting love and then hit you up for money. I'd ask them, but I know they'd say, "No." What self-respecting scammer would admit it?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

A Railroad Party

July 1, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Bill, which opened a line from Missouri River to California. 

Construction crawled, but by October, rails reached the 100th meridian, 247 miles west of Omaha.

Union Pacific celebrated. 

Two trains chugged down the track to the 100th meridian. Red, white, and blue streamers billowed alongside the cars, and festive antlers perched on top of locomotives. 

The first train lugged party supplies, Western style: tents, buffalo robes, cases of champagne. 

The second train brought 140 party goers—the guest list loaded with influential capitalists and Congressional dignitaries. 

They whooped it up for three days, dancing around a huge bonfire, peering at a prairie dog town, applauding Pawnee war dancers, and eating fresh-killed antelope for dinner. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Stagecoach King

Benjamin Holladay, the Stagecoach King, who owned the world's largest stagecoach line, hired William Parker Carr as a hunter.

"The Republican River valley," Holladay said, "is a world-class place for game."

So Carr headed west, riding for miles. The Republican River wiggled and jiggled but its path, as a whole, ran straight. 

Enormous flocks of birds cast shadows on Carr's path. Wild grasses undulated. Leaf-shedding trees hugged the river into a canopy that shimmered in the wind. 

When Carr stopped, bird calls crescendoed, chirps and chatter, trills and twitters, warbles, whistles, and hoots.

Finding game was easy. Carr could kill hundreds and fail to dent the enormous herds. Elk covered more than an acre; scads of black-tailed and white-tailed deer and antelope dotted the plains. 

Other game also flourished. Wild turkeys and rabbits, grouse and coyote had multiplied so that thinning seemed impossible. 

All these zillions of creatures had been drawn to the valley for the same reason: a profusion of tender grasses and clear spring-fed creeks.

This lush paradise would become Harlan County. Ninety years later, I lived there.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

“Wild Jim” Lane

Kansas folks got het up about "Wild Jim" Lane, a Free State leader.

His hair stood every which way; his mouth slashed across his face. When he spoke, he swore and worse. Laughter rippled his belly. His energy was amazing.

When the Topeka legislature elected "Wild Jim" to the U.S. Senate, he carried a Topeka Constitution to Washington, D.C. Before he could serve, Congress must accept that constitution. But it did not.

If he returned to Kansas, federal troops would imprison him for treason. So he toured. How he swayed an audience! Sometimes his voice wooed like a lullaby, sometimes stirred like a bugle. 

In Chicago, his speech created pandemonium. Gamblers threw pistols on the stage. Staid businessmen tossed in their wallets. Even newsboys cast up pennies. "Wild Jim" collected thousands of dollars, and a thousand men joined his army.

"Wild Jim" and his army ferried over the Missouri River, then cut across Nebraska Territory. Near Kansas, they dared not be seen on regular roads, so Free Staters marked a trail through the Kansas sea of grass with tall poles and piles of stone. "The Jim Lane Trail," they called it. 

On January 29, 1861, President Buchanan signed a free Kansas into the Union. At once, Kansas voters elected "Wild Jim" Lane, no longer wanted for treason, to the U.S. Senate.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Senate Revenge

Hostility about slavery thrived in the U.S. Senate.

On May 22, 1856, Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, an arrogant abolitionist, launched a tirade against Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina, calling him an imbecile who has taken "a mistress who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; I mean, the harlot, Slavery."

Two days later, Sumner, writing letters at his desk, failed to notice Representative Preston Brooks.

"Mr. Sumner," Brooks said, "Your speech libels South Carolina, and my white-haired relative, Senator Butler. I've come to punish you."

Sumner rose. Brooks smashed Sumner's skull with a gold-headed cane, knocking him under his desk. The tall Senator struggled to rise from under the desk, bolted to the floor. Blood gushed down his face.

Using thighs as levers, Sumner ripped the desk from its bolts, freeing himself. Blinded by blood, he staggered. Brooks rained blows that shattered his cane. 

Sumner lurched, buckled and passed out. Brooks pummeled Sumner until legislators restrained him.

Brooks left, as others carried the unconscious Sumner, spurting blood. Three years would pass before he could resume his Senate duties.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Colonel Manypenny’s “Gift”

Congress, eager to open Unorganized Territory for whites, eyed Indian land bordering the Missouri River. 

In January 1854, the U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Colonel George Manypenny, traveled from Washington, D.C., to "talk" with those Missouri River tribes.

They met in Bellevue, population fifty, the only white settlement on the river's west side.

The Missourians and Otoes arrived together. Then sixty Omaha chiefs, or "those going against the wind," breezed in.

Colonel Manypenny talked the tribes into selling land for cash, goods, and a reservation all their own. That gift to Congress settled, he left. 

In Washington, Colonel Manypenny made major reductions in the treaties—above all, in the amount of money. 

Colonel Manypenny's dirtiest deal? 

Reducing the $1,200,000 promised to the Omahas to $84,000. That came to two cents an acre for the 4 million acres from the Niobrara River to the Platte and from the Missouri River to the Sandhills.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Hauling Mail on a Mule

If it weren't for William Parker Carr, the county I grew up in wouldn't be named "Harlan." Not that Carr planned this. No, when he left New England forever and traveled to the swift Missouri, he just intended to find work. Plus maybe a girlfriend.
Carr found his first job: delivering mail on a mule. If he'd known better, he might have declined. The mail route crossed the land of the Pawnee, those skilled robbers of horses and mules. But Carr needed a job so he took it. 
One night, Carr's mule acted queerly. 
"What's eatin' him?" Carr wondered. Then an image crossed his mind: a half-naked savage swinging a tomahawk, a ridge of porcupine hair rising from his shaved head. 
"Pawnee!" he shrieked, and dug his heels into his startled mule's flanks. They tore along, galumphing over the moonlit path, Carr starting at each night noise. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Dirtiest Deal

The dirtiest deal in my home county happened when settlers near the tiny town of Alma snagged the Harlan County seat in the late 1800s.

A native of that Nebraska county seat, I didn't find the affair that scuzzy, but descendants of the nearby town of Orleans still do.

Mention the county seat there and faces redden and glower, voices snarl and snap.

Indeed, Orlean's descendants seem to think that locating the county seat in Alma was Harlan County's worst calamity, more unfortunate than the 1935 Republican River flood that killed 110 people, destroyed 11,400 head of cattle, and wiped out trees, houses, barns, bridges, and railroad tracks.

"At least," they say, "we recovered from the flood," but not the Harlan County seat fight, still taking its toll in Orleans.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Cadaver Dogs

It's June 2013, and the FBI is at it again: searching for Jimmy Hoffa's remains, missing since July 30, 1975. 

This time the agents bring in a bulldozer, a backhoe, and shovels. 

They dig and dig in a field of waist-high grass where a barn used to be. 

The agents are so certain they'll find the famous ex-Teamsters' boss that they bring in cadaver dogs to sniff out his decomposing body and they hire Michigan State forensic anthropologists to identify his remains. 

But on the third day of the excavation, the FBI agents give up. 

Where is Jimmy? They don't know.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

His Silver Bullet

Thursday afternoon, April 7, 1977, Dad had just hauled his 31-foot Airstream trailer through Denver. He and Mama had about 50 miles to go to Fort Collins when he pulled his prized silver bullet to the side of the highway and stopped.

Mama watched him search in his shirt pocket for his nitroglycerin tablet, designed to ward off a heart attack. He found the pill box, took out one, and put it under his tongue.

After the pill dissolved, he asked, "Honey, can you drive us in?"

"Tom," her voice quavered, "you know I can't. I've never driven anything bigger than a car."

He leaned back. "Well, let me rest a bit."

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Kent State

"We've got to go in there and I mean really go in." President Richard Nixon's face flushed. "I want everything that can fly to go in there and crack the hell out of Cambodia."

"We should keep that campaign low-key," advised General Abrams, but Nixon disagreed. He modeled himself on his favorite movie, Patton, a portrayal of a controversial general that the president had seen five times.

So on Thursday, April 30, 1970, President Nixon announced his decision on all three U.S. TV networks. "Our will is being tested tonight. The time has come for action."

His campaign to invade Cambodia ignited a firestorm of antiwar protests in some 400 colleges.

Students at Kent State University in Ohio initially held peaceful protests, but later that night, they heaved beer bottles at police cars. About midnight, a mob of students rampaged through town, shattering windows.

The next day Kent State students firebombed the rickety old ROTC building on campus. The mayor called Governor Rhodes who declared martial law and sent 900 National Guardsmen to the campus.

Sunday remained quiet, but Monday, students gathered for a noon rally. Five times a campus policeman told students to scatter. They ignored him. 

Finally, guardsmen, carrying loaded rifles, submachine guns and pistols, moved forward. 

A student cried: "They've got guns now. You don't throw rocks against guns!" 

And finally, "My God! They're killing us!"

Thursday, August 16, 2018


The gooseneck lamp made a pool of light on my desk about 3 a.m., June 5, 1968, when someone pounded on my apartment door.

Tall skinny Bev, my upstairs neighbor, cried, "You've got to come up! They've shot Bobby Kennedy!" 

On Bev's TV, I saw the classic image of that night: Robert Kennedy, dressed in his black campaigning suit, sprawled flat on the kitchen floor, his limbs jutting out as though they didn't belong to him.

"Oh my God!" Bev shook her fist at the TV. "I can't believe this!  Martin Luther King only two months dead, and everywhere, rioting, thousands arrested, and who know how many shot! And now this." 

Bobby, still alive, asked, "Is everybody okay?" Bev reached for a tissue. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

On His Way to Prison

In Washington D.C. on a gloomy drizzly March day, Chuckie O'Brien drove his step-father, Jimmy Hoffa, to the federal building to surrender to the U.S. marshals.

"There's going to be a mob of media folk at the front door," Chuckie warned. "Let me drive you around back."

Jimmy refused. "I never ran away from anybody and I'll be damned if I'm gonna start now. Drive this son of a bitch right up to the front door."

There March 7, 1967, Jimmy faced microphones and cameras.

Afterwards, marshals prepared him for his 192-mile trip to the federal penitentiary.

They handcuffed his wrists, put him in the back seat of a dark blue Pontiac, and chained his legs to the floor.

Jimmy spread his raincoat over his immobile hands and legs, to conceal his humiliation.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Dad’s Headline

On the morning of March 7, 1967, Janet Niebruegge, a staff reporter for the Fort Collins Coloradoan, rang my dad in his city manager office.

"Did you know that Jimmy Hoffa's on his way to jail right now?" she asked.

"Yes, I know. I've anticipated this day for a long long time."

Janet's voice sounded bouncy. "And how do you feel about that?"

Dad took a deep breath and proceeded to recite what he'd composed during restless nights. "'I would be less than honest if I were to say that I had not looked forward to today when the prison gates closed behind James Riddle Hoffa.'"

"That's a mouthful." Janet paused. "Maybe something shorter?"

"Okay. How about this?" Dad's voice lightened. "I will sleep a little sounder tonight."

"That's great! Thanks, Tom." 

And his short version became Janet's headline that afternoon. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Election

On the morning of March 28, 1956 the NLRB Field Examiner opened and counted the four legal ballots deposited by the four Coffey's Transfer drivers in Omaha. All four voted against the union. The three illegal Teamster votes weren't counted. 

In the NLRB's formal language, "A majority of four valid votes has not been cast for the Union."

"How do you like that?" Dad's eyes widened. "We beat the hell out of the Teamsters, and I've only been out of business for a month."

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Get-Hoffa Squad

A Chattanooga jury deliberated for five hours after government prosecutors tried Jimmy Hoffa and five-codefendants for fixing a jury.

For weeks, a web of maneuvers and counter-maneuvers had entangled the trial. But Jimmy, never singled out by the prosecutor, concluded he was innocent.

Even so, Jimmy's lawyers worked hard. One hurled thirty pieces of silver at the prosecutors. Another cried, "The government's case is a foul and filthy frame-up designed by the 'Get-Hoffa Squad.'"

Bobby Kennedy and his chief FBI investigator, Walter Sheridan, belonged to the Get-Hoffa Squad, located in Washington, D.C.

Then on March 4, 1964, the jury found Jimmy guilty of two counts. When he heard, the color drained from his face.

Sheridan bolted out of the courtroom, located a phone, and called Bobby.

"Guilty—two counts! We made it!" Sheridan reported.

"Nice work," Bobby said. And invited Sheridan to a victory party at the Kennedy home.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Wooed by Semantics

In a few more days, I'd live uptown in Tom Henshaw's apartment. As a married woman. My drinking buddy had turned into my fiancé.

Dad sat at the table, figuring my taxes: my federal taxes and my marriage ceremony fell on April 15, 1961. Except for taxes, I was ready. I'd made my simple wedding gown, blue. To wear white would be two-faced. 

What really enthralled me was semantics. I read Science and Sanity by Alfred Korzybski, known for saying, "The map is not the territory." 

Once in class, Korzybski opened a packet of biscuits, wrapped in white paper. "Excuse me, I just must have something to eat." 

He looked at the students. "Would you like a biscuit?"

Several reached for one.

"Nice biscuit, hmm?" Korzybski ate a second one.

Before him, students chewed vigorously.

Suddenly, he ripped the white paper off to reveal a package labeled "Dog Cookies."

Shocked students clapped their hands over their mouths, ran out of class to the toilet to vomit.

"You see," Korzybski told the remaining students, "I have just demonstrated that people don't just eat food, but also words."

Thursday, July 5, 2018


At supper, Dad cut a piece of meat loaf, popped it in his mouth, chewed, swallowed, patted his lips dry. "I treated that Senator Carl Curtis to coffee, and he said, 'Just between the two of us, that Bobby Kennedy sure is a spoiled brat. Doesn't have the patience to build a solid legal case against the men he's questioning. So he just engages in shouting matches.'"

Dad swirled a piece of meat loaf into its juices. His voice softened. "And guess what. Carl wanted to know if I'd be willing to come to Washington D.C. and testify on Bobby Kennedy's committee—against Hoffa.

Dad whooped. "I nearly broke his arm off, I pumped it so hard."

Thursday, June 28, 2018


Hidden FBI cameras rolled as John Cheasty gave Jimmy Hoffa a memo about Dave Beck. "It's enough to cook Beck's goose," Cheasty piped.

Not knowing that the goose to be cooked would be his, Jimmy slipped Cheasty $2,000 cash.

As Jimmy crossed the Dupont Plaza Hotel lobby, five guys, wearing gray suits and wide-brimmed hats, approached him.

"FBI," said one. "You're under arrest."

Jimmy's face tightened. "For what?"

A few men fanned out behind Jimmy. "Just come with us."

"Like hell I will." Jimmy punched the elevator button.

When the five men ringed Jimmy, he threw both hands up. "Goddammit, you want trouble, you can have it. Most of these folks in the lobby are my guys. So go ahead, make a fuckin' fuss, and we'll have one hell of a fight."

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Snoop

"We gotta stop this snoopy columnist." Jimmy Hoffa furrowed his brow. "He can't keep his nose out of our business."

"Johnny Dio" Dioguardi then sent death threats to columnist Victor Riesel, but Riesel kept on broadcasting his anti-labor show.

"We could off him." Dio raised a single black eyebrow.

Jimmy shook his head. "Too fuckin' easy. I want Riesel to know what he did wrong."

Then about 2 a.m., April 5, 1956, Riesel left the radio station after broadcasting his usual anti-labor program. He and his secretary walked to Lindy's to unwind. They left the restaurant about 3 a.m. 

Then Abraham Telvi, a slender, black-haired man, stepped out of the shadows and threw a vial of sulphuric acid into Riesel's eyes.


"My gosh!" Riesel shouted. He staggered. "My gosh!"

The secretary dragged Riesel into Lindy's to flush his face with water, but acid ate his eyeballs. 

Outside, Telvi sauntered away, trying to wipe a splash of acid off his face. 

"I should'a got more than five hundred bucks," he groused.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Election Win

Dad was no longer in the trucking business, but the NLRB--and Weinberg--marched right on with hearing after hearing, most issues old.

First, they dealt with the Coffey's Transfer election. Harold L. Hudson, Field Examiner for NLRB, notified my dad that ballots would be counted in Lincoln on March 28, and invited Dad to witness it.

Dad groaned at the prospect of watching ballots counted for a nonexistent business. Maybe his friend, Ray Osborn, would represent him.

"Why don't you just not go?" My finger held my place in the controversial novel, Peyton Place.

"If I win that election, it will prove that the Teamster strike was illegal, and I could sue them for running me out of business."

"Is that what you're planning to do?"

"Maybe. The odds are a bit stiff. The Teamsters have never settled with anyone, Smith says. But I might try."

Thursday, June 7, 2018


He weighed 325 pounds, used his girth to bump people into place in picket lines and to bounce offending taxicabs into the river. 

He ate gargantuan meals, paying $15 to $30 each ($136 to $272 in 2017 dollars). 

And he drove a brand-new, bright red Cadillac convertible, a gift. On the front seat lay a shotgun, cleaned, primed and ready to go. A sign on the back bumper read "Clergy" to avoid tickets. 

His name was Robert B. "Barney" Baker and he was Hoffa's toughest hoodlum, a twice-convicted thug, once a prizefighter, a strong-arm man on New York docks, a bouncer. 

Hoffa sent Barney to Alma to organize my father's Coffey's Transfer.

Dad and Barney argued.

"You know you need signatures from fifty-one per cent of my men," Dad said, "before you can claim to represent them legally."

"Dat don matter." Barney shrugged. "Hoffa sez weeze gonna organize yooze from the top down." The huge thug drew a line with his forefinger from his forehead to his belly as though he had filleted a trout.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Tic Douloureux

One day in May 1954, my father staggered under a sharp, stabbing, incapacitating throb on the right side of his face. He felt as though someone had smacked him with a hot poker.

The local doctor sent Dad to Mayo Clinic. "Tic douloureux is one of the most unbearable nerve disorders known to humans," the Mayo doctor said, "certainly more painful than a migraine headache, even more painful than childbirth." He set a date for surgery.

Dad returned to his top-floor hotel room in Rochester, Minnesota, to wait. He walked to the window. As he stared down at the street, he thought about jumping.

It wasn't just his tic douloureux. It was the Teamsters. 

True, Jimmy had not bothered him for several years, but Dad watched the little guy creep closer and closer to Nebraska. Along with Jimmy moved his gangsters. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018


Jimmy flew into Nebraska from New York when his Teamster contract with Dad's truckline lapsed on June 1, 1950.

And wouldn't you know it,  Jimmy wanted Dad to sign that same old Central States contract, the one with that terrible featherbedding clause they'd fought about in 1947 until "The Little Guy" had dropped that clause.

Dad protested.

"Sign or strike," Jimmy said.

Dad, still unhappy with his 1947 contract that transformed his twenty-five drivers into Teamsters, decided to resist. 

He collected from his drivers all those union cards that Hoffa's contract had forced Dad to distribute. He returned them to the Teamsters.

Then my father hunkered down for a fight.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Big Cheese

The wind whipped Teamster Jimmy Hoffa's dark brush cut. He caught his breath as he stepped out of the airliner, hat in hand, that May 1947. Back in bush-league Nebraska after nine fuckin' years. He saw an empty paper cup streak by as he strode across the tarmac. 

Think of that, a damned greenhorn then. But no longer. Now a Big Cheese. Got every Detroit Teamster riding in my blasted hip pocket. Plus most of Michigan state's damned locals, for cripes' sake. He jutted his chin out. And now it's me negotiatin' a single contract for fuckin' 125,000 drivers in twelve Midwestern states. 

Includin', these bumble-fuck Nebraska truckers. 

Except for this Coffey's Transfer Company. Coffey just don't get it. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

“Faster, Faster!”

I was still fifteen that May 1953 when the Harlan County Dam halted the Republican River and created a huge lake almost seven miles long.

Dad and I had looked forward to this day. Together we'd built a big wooden boat from a kit. I started hundreds of screws, and he finished them.

At last we launched the big boat. Out across the huge Harlan County Reservoir we spun! 

I took my turn with my sisters riding on the flat surfboard Dad towed behind the boat. 

How I loved the speed and the spray!

"Faster, faster," I screamed, and Dad would rev his big engine up, watch me fly across the glimmering water. 

Then he cut the engine and grinned as my surfboard slowly submerged, and I fought immersion.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Out of Step

On June 10, 1952, the US Army Corps of Engineers dedicated its $45-million Harlan County, Nebraska, dam and reservoir. 

The all-day celebration drew ten thousand people from the Republican River valley. 

A huge parade in Alma, Nebraska, my home town, kicked off the celebration. A color guard led eleven bands, twenty-eight floats, a drum and bugle corps, ten saddle clubs, a fire department truck, and a line of massive construction trucks used to build the dam. 

My sister, Margaret, led the Alma High School band. I marched with it and carried a heavy glockenspiel, its bulky keyboard shaped like a lyre. When I hit its steel keys with a mallet, a bright bell-like tone sliced through the air. 

As we neared the end of the hour-long march, I spotted Dad standing in the crowd. Afterward, I scampered to him. "How'd I do?"

"Oh, you were terrific!" A smile played across his face. "Everyone was out of step but you."

Thursday, April 26, 2018

“Hoffa Isn't Happy”

That awful three-year contract Dad had negotiated with Jimmy in 1947 wasn't due to lapse until June 1, 1950, so a March 1950 phone call from IBT headquarters surprised Dad.

"Hoffa isn't happy," the Teamster official said. "He says we're gaining nothing with your contract."

They arranged a series of talks in March.

Dad and his lawyer, Ace Jackson, showed up at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln to find Jimmy Hoffa nowhere in sight.

"Wonder what the Little Guy's up to?" Ace tilted his head to one side.

IBT had sent Karl Keul, the Teamster who looked like Hitler, to be the principal negotiator instead of Jimmy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


A few days ago, I clicked an Internet item and WOOOPS! My computer screen turned blood red, a fire alarm rang, a huge white 800 number flashed, and a woman jabbered, "Dial the 800 number. Dial the 800 number."

Frozen, I gazed at the red screen, not knowing I could erase it by turning my computer off. 

Stupid One: I dialed the 800 number.

Mr. 800 claimed I had a thousand-and-one things wrong with my computer which he would fix in an hour if I gave him my password. Which I did. This is not yet Stupid Two.

Then came the bill. We dickered and settled on $199.99. "Will you pay by credit card or by e-check?" he asked. Using an e-check might entertain me; I'd never used one. 

Stupid Two: I paid by e-check.

Mr. 800 dickered with my computer for an hour, to fix it (or so he claimed) and we said "Goodbye."

The instant I hung up the phone, I dialed Apple Care for help in setting up a new password.

Then I called my bank to stop payment on my e-check. The teller took copious notes but set a stop payment in place. "However," she said, "to fix this you must visit your branch bank."

Already I wished I'd used my credit card; this looked like much more work. And it was. Much more.

The branch bank teller said stopping payment wasn't enough. Mr. 800 could use my blank checks. "Shred all your old checks," she told me. "I'll order new checks for you." This process took about two hours of paperwork and multiple signatures. 

Then the teller printed a long list of my automatic pay or credit companies. "Call each firm," she said, "to update the routing number and the new check number." 

I was so stupid. If I'd used my credit card, all I'd needed to do was cancel payment. But now I faced hours on the phone, tracking down all these changes.

I was right. Hour passed after hour.

But when I told Lisa Pelto, head of Concierge Marketing who helps me produce my books, she wrote: "Oh dear – we've all been there Marilyn.  We'll take care of your accounts. We'll get them all changed." 

So all's well that ends well, except for my enormous waste of time. And loss of pride.