I find that ones attitude towards collecting mail is a deciding factor in whether you are a natural optimist or a natural pessimist. I am a mail optimist. I love the anticipation of walking to the mailbox and wondering what is going to be inside. Will there be an actual letter? or a magazine? or maybe a large check? Even though I can count on one hand the times a large check has unexpectedly appeared in my mailbox, every trip to the mailbox finds me wondering if such a check will be there. I am actually disappointed by just junk mail, even if that mail contains no bills. A really terrific mail delivery is one that contains no bills and something else exciting.
I enjoy walking down the drive to go and collect the mail, particularly if the weather is fine. I don't even like to wait to get back to the house to look and see what is there, but leaf through it right by the side of the road. On this particular day earlier this week, though, I didn't need to walk out the mailbox. The mail carrier came right up to the house because I had to sign for a certified letter. I signed and brought the mail into the house. The letter I signed for was from the Kane County Treasurer. It had the look of a tax bill about it, and since I had been expecting a tax bill wasn't worried. I was pretty impressed that the county cared so much about tax payers getting their bills that they sent them certified. This would be quite a change from Cook County, who couldn't even get them mailed through the regular mail on any predictable schedule.
It was with very little concern then, that I opened the letter. This lasted for all of two seconds, because the first words I read were, "Impending tax sale." My first overly optimistic thought was that they got the address wrong and this letter was delivered to the wrong address. No, there were mine and J.'s names and our address listed at the top. The letter further informed us that unless we paid the taxes which were overdue, the property would go up for sale to pay for the back taxes at the end of the month.
This was not good.
Taking my own advice to decide not to panic first, I thought about what I could do. It did seem as though there must be some mistake, and shouldn't all of this been taken care of at the closing? The closing... we used a lawyer at the closing... he gave us his card... where was that card... ? I knew where I would put it now, but is that where I would put it in the chaos of unpacking? Who knows? I went to look, and lo and behold, something in my brain must have been functioning, because there it was.
I called the office and spoke to the lawyer's paralegal. (I'm convinced that knowing an attorney's paralegal is on a par with knowing a doctor's nurse. It can make things so much quicker and more helpful.) She looked up everything from the closing and was able to solve the mystery. We were given a credit for the amount of taxes at closing. This I knew. What we were not given by the sellers was a copy of the tax bill which was due a week after we closed. Without that little piece of paper, we had no way of knowing when or how to pay the taxes. This would explain why the expected tax bill never showed up in the mail. I was also able to discover from our conversation how the property taxes in our new county work. Bills are always sent out at the same time, and each installment is always due at the same time each year. How novel! One can actually make a budget and work with this system. Someone should let Cook County in on this little secret of advance planning.
This afternoon I drove over and paid the taxes and got a receipt to prove I did so. No tax sale will be happening here at the end of the month. It would really have been an extraordinary amount of bother to have to pack everything up again.