I suspect that most people, by the time they reach 55, have learned not to count their eggs before they've hatched. For a little while now, we've been getting about nine eggs per day from our flock of chickens, but don't count on even one because a series of rainy days, other change of weather, or feeling of insecurity might reverse our good fortune. We don't count on any from the ducks, either, and have an inkling that Lex, our Boxer, may play some role in this.
For many years my royalty payments arrived electronically before midnight of the last business day of each quarter. Even so, I haven't counted on it. I wouldn't dare let my bank balance drop so low that it might fall below zero if that payment failed to appear, which is a good thing, because it's now been more than three months. Intuition warned me last week, or maybe it was the same hunch (i.e., not to count chickens) I have each cycle.
I'm still waiting to hear why. At first I feared the worst, that financial difficulties of several years ago may have resurfaced. Most publishers find survival tough in these days of online access and reading reluctance. Persistent probing uncovered, I think I can count on this, that my particular payment got lost in a shuffle, which doesn't justify a breach of contract (actually 11 contracts) or a failure to promptly fix the mistake. [Postscript: Still naive, my first fear proved largely correct, but for now we have a happy ending.]
The incident reminds me of the importance of meeting our obligations, and how vulnerable we can be to the whims of others. Sometimes I marvel at cars speeding past going the opposite direction, for a fraction of a second mere feet, or inches, from my own. We trust each other to stay in the proper lane, to follow "the rules." When a political candidate posts his or her positions, the opponent assumes he or she means it -- until a flipflop in a debate delivers a surprise. When we sign a contract that requires us to do something first, we assume the other party will pay when the time comes. If the other person reneges, we're caught off guard.
"So they're late," says Virginia. "It's only a few days."
I hope so. When an oncoming car swerves in front of me, it throws me off balance. Whew, that was a close one, but not inconsequential. Forgetting may take a while, the roadway must re-earn my trust.
2 weeks ago