Fiscally strong Oklahoma
Having lived and worked in Oklahoma at various times in my life, I’ve noticed that it is fiscally strong and stable. I’ve always in the back of my mind attributed Oklahoma’s strong fiscal position to its massive oil and gas industry.
But, recently, something happened that makes me realize that Oklahoma is strong fiscally, not by the happenstance of sitting above an ocean of fossil fuels, but by it’s vigorous, diligent, relentless, persistence pursuit of every last penny that’s legally due to it. Let me explain by telling this true story that proves the point.
You’ll recall a few weeks ago, my friends Canby and May Bea Handy hauled Nevah and me to Lubbock, Texas, to deliver some more of my “stuff” to Texas Tech University. They drove their pickup and, since the trip was to benefit me, I told them I’d pickup all the travel expenses, except for meals and lodging.
And, that’s what happened, without incident, during the whole trip. But, “Whoa,” it turns out that the trip expenses just keep coming.
Last week, ol’ Canby phoned and informed me, firmly, that I needed to reimburse him 65-cents for travel expenses. And, based upon the facts, he’s correct. I do own him that extravagant sum. Here’s his explanation of how it happened:
The day he called, he received in the mail a bill for 65-cents from the Oklahoma turnpike authorities. Since we’d purposely stayed on the backroads during the trip, Canby didn’t recall any miles we’d traveled on a turnpike. He knew we’d never gone through or by-passed a toll-gate. So, he called the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to investigate.
Turns out, the turnpike folks were correct. Their camera surveillance of car license plates on Interstate 44 one evening caught us driving a few miles on the turnpike near Lawton, Okla. It must have happened during our unplanned detour north of Lawton.
Canby said the turnpike folks were friendly and helpful, and explained that the bills go out automatically to folks who don’t have an account with the authority. However, they pointed out that the bill still needed to be paid.
So, here’s the humorous point of the story. The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority spent 62-cents in postage to collect Canby’s 65-cent bill. Canby told me he put the charge on his credit card, so that transaction cost the OTA four-percent of 65-cents to process the card.
I think we may drive to Kansas City to reimburse Canby his 65-cents. By the time that trip is done, I’m sure it’ll cost me more than $100. Or, I might pay another 62-cents in postage and send him his 65-cents.
Regardless, my original point is well-made. Oklahoma is fiscally stable because it zealously pursues ever penny owed to it.
At our age, it’s seldom that anything happens to Nevah and me for the first time. But, recently it did. For the first time in our lives, we had three great-grandkids in our home at the same time. Plus, we had a grandson and his wife, a granddaughter and her hubby, and our Kansas daughter and her hubby. Two of the great-grandkids were here from North Carolina. We hadn’t seen them in more than a year. The 11-member tribe was here to celebrate an early family Christmas.
And, celebrate we did — feasting and drinking to our heart’s content. Of course, the little ones — ranging from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years old — got a plethora of new toys and books. As they romped through our home, the din was delightfully deafening.
Despite the cold weather, the “greats” enjoyed chasing the hens and roosters, gathering the eggs, and feeding the flock. They all got to ride on the ATV. And, they enjoyed laying down with me in the four-foot-tall Big Bluestem prairie grasses to experience first-hand how rabbits, coyotes, deer and other wildlife stay out of the wind and keep warm during the winter.
The great-granddaughter — oldest of the three — watched us oldsters play cards, and, of course, wanted to play cards, too. So, I “invented” a card game for a 3-year-old — “Royal Faces.” It’s played just like regular War with each player turning over one card at a time. Only with “Royal Faces,” if any face card turned up on either pile, the first person to slap it and yell “mine” gets to keep all the turned-over cards.
It took her about 2 minutes to learn how to cheat and win over great-grandpa. She’d peek under a corner of her card before she turned it over. That way she always got to yell “mine” first. And, she delighted when poor old great-grandpa “pouted” about losing.
When the tribe left after two days, Nevah and I felt like we were in the quiet eye of a hurricane. But, we enjoyed every minute.
Proof that I’m getting old: This year was the first year since 1972 that I didn’t buy a deer tag and go deer hunting. It follows last summer when I didn’t play a single round of golf. It doesn’t seem worth the effort anymore, and that’s sad.
Now, for my words of wisdom for the week. “Your Golden Age is when your knees buckle, but your belt won’t.”
Have a good ‘un.