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Audio Post: cookie withdrawal Sept 25. 2012

Perhaps every dog in America likes to go to the bank. Most bank drive-thru windows keep dog cookies and give your dog a cookie when they give you your deposit slip. I once saw an unattended drive-thru that had a box of dog cookies sitting by the place you put your check in. Banks = cookies. Cookies = good.

Today we went to the Idaho State University Credit Union and opened a new checking account. We have banked there for 13 years so everyone knows us. The poor lady at the teller office could not understand what we wanted when we asked to open a new checking account. After all, why would we need one? We have had one for 13 years. Don’t we get enough dog cookies?  I am sure you don’t have to have an additional checking account to get more cookies. Finally we conveyed that we wanted two checking accounts: One for our household and one for our house.

People at the Credit Union knew our house burned down so suddenly it made all the sense in the world. We wanted two accounts. We wanted one account for our usual household expenses we wanted the insurance money for the house in its very own checking account. It is our house after all.

Everyone at the Credit Union knows us, except for the volunteer lady who was welcoming new Idaho State University employees and students. As we were filling out the papers for a new checking account she politely sidled over towards us and said, “Are you new here?” Maybe I got confused by all the bows and ribbons and tags she had hanging on her. I always forget about school spirit and the paraphernalia that goes with it. Much too late it dawned on me what she was doing. She was being nice. I was being dense. Sophie wanted a cookie. Actually, I was a woman on a mission. I wanted to my house to have its very own checking account.

I am not sure why it is important to me to have two separate accounts, one for the household and one for the house but it is. My spouse and I discussed it several times and, as he correctly pointed out, the differences can be kept on paper just as easily as they can with more than one checking account. Still, while computers can draw the line I, it seems, cannot. I want two pots with one spoon each, not one pot with two spoons.

Perhaps my need for two pots with one spoon each comes from my many years of work as a grant-funded researcher. When you have a specific grant, it has a specific budget with a specific amount of authorized funds. Anyone who works on the grant is specifically accountable for any funds that are spent. Our new house is being built like it is a grant. Everyone (including me) is specifically accountable to the budget. The budget was set by the insurance money we have to replace our house. That is what we have. We do not have more.

My spouse and I worked hard for years to get our mortgage down on the now-deceased house. We had paid half of it off. When the insurance money came for the house, the check was made out jointly to us and to the mortgage company. We were instructed to endorsed the check and send it to the mortgage company. It was a very strange thing to hold one check knowing that it was your house. Stranger still to sign it and mail it to someone you did not know.

The mortgage company cashed the check and then sent us the balance along with the canceled loan. I felt only slightly better. I just cannot get it into my brain that a check is the same thing as a house. I know soon it will be bricks and mortar but for now it is just a large number. So, today we opened the house its very own checking account. I suppose it felt more like a house when it was deposited into its own checking account.

Sophie likes the idea of having two checking accounts. There are two chances to get cookies now. Sophie likes to go to the Credit Union and the folks at the Credit Union like Sophie to come. If we would let them they I think they would give her 100 cookies.

Today when we finished putting our house in a checking account, Sophie got her cookie. A few years ago we went inside of the Credit Union and when we came out Sophie did not have a cookie. She was distraught. I felt terrible since she had been so patiently waiting for her cookie. My spouse, with no comment to either of use, drove up to the drive-thru window and when the teller asked, “How can I help you?” my spouse, with a straight face, said, “We would like to make a cookie withdrawal, please.” Sophie got two cookies. The Credit Union is a good place.

The Credit Union is indeed a good place. Our house lives there in a checking account.