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Monday, August 17, 2009

Visa Woes and Other Anxieties

This is not about credit cards. The OTHER kind of visa.

Well, Frugal Son just got his visa for 5 months in France (pauvre petit!). Problem is that he was supposed to leave this morning. When it was clear that the USPS would not get it here on time, we re-scheduled his flight.

Whose fault? That's what God says in Paradise Lost. The answer: our fault. "Whose but his own? I made him just and right." Then God goes on to say the words that I tell my student are the key to understanding Paradise Lost. "Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall."

So, the fault lies with Frugal Son who underestimated the time it would take to get a visa, which entailed an appointment (only 5 available per day) and a trip to the French Consulate in Houston. Then he had to wait over a week for the paperwork to be done.

The French Consulate came through.

But a bit of fault lies with USPS. The fellow behind the counter did not tell me that express mail was not really overnight, though I asked. And that Sunday delivery cost extra. We were ecstatic to see that the item arrived in New Orleans Saturday at 6 a.m., so we assumed we would get it that day. We live only 40 minutes away.

I called the USPS and the operator said "Didn't you get an estimated delivery date on your receipt?" What receipt? I wasn't given one.

So 90% on Frugal Son, who was nagged by us all summer.
10% to USPS for poor customer service at point of purchase.

Meanwhile, postal truck has been outside for 20 minutes with worker just sitting in there. After 15 minutes, he put one foot on the ground.

Stress Level: huge. Cost of nagging son all summer: huge.

What about the financial cost? Strangely none: the price of the ticket has gone down (a LOT, thanks to the recession?), so even with a $250 penalty and the loss of a one-way ticket to New York, we came out a little ahead.

Frugal Son is more cavalier than most about deadlines and bureaucracy. All this was a good lesson for him. But the stress has taken some years off my life, I'm afraid.

Frugal Son accepts 90% of the responsibility. But he also says FEDEX, which we've never used, has a customer for life!

Does anyone have tips for dealing with cavalier and procrastinating youth, when they are still supported by you? One friend, with an even more cavalier son, said, "Let him fail." To which I replied, "But we have to pay for whatever happens." Even if it "come out of his bank account," it's still all on us. Right?

Any tips or wisdom appreciated.


Funny about Money said...

What a story! {heh heh heh} Sounds kinda familiar, too.

The only tip I can offer is wait. Time will persuade him. Boys reach full maturity at about the age of 32, as far as I can tell. In any event, about every eight or ten years they seem to undergo major personality changes, usually for the better.


Suzy said...

wow he's lucky! If that had been me and my parents I'd been SOL on that trip :-( I've always been a procastinator mom would nag and nag and nag and it just made me worse I think. I've paid the price a few times and there are some things I just don't put off but most things I still do!

Frugal Scholar said...

@Funny--Let's see. In 12 years, I will be 67. I don't think I can take the stress.

@Suzy--He CAN'T be SOL on the trip. It's covered by his academic scholarship. Any lapse in school attendance will eliminate the scholarship PERMANENTLY. That's what I mean about how we really can't let him take the consequences--the punishment far outweighs the crime.

Duchesse said...

My approach with my 22 yr old twin sons is "let him deal with the consequences of his actions". If the added cost comes out of his bank account I'm not clear how it's "still all on you". (Even if you originally contributed money, it is in his account and now does he not have has less for discretionary spending?)

Therefore, he makes all arrangements for re-routed travel, waits for the delivery, etc.

Yes, USPS could have been clearer. It helps to say to them, "I absolutely need this by (date), what do I have to do to get it by then?" I'm guessing he has learned a lot, and is on his way to learnimg more, and in FRANCE!

I have one son who has did this sort of thing so many times, but learned incrementally to clean up his own mess, and still has a way to go.

Suzy said...

Yikes! It's a wonder you have any hair left! but the post office is a pain..I also found out the hard way that overnight doesn't guarantee next day even though they charge an arm and a leg for it. And even stranger is I've sent something priority and first class to same state and the first class got there the next day and the priority took the full 3 days...

I like Fedex much better too!

Frugal Scholar said...

@Suzy--I've never put fedex to the test, but my husband pointed out that delivering things quickly is the ONLY thing they do. good point.