Parents and siblings 3.2

3.2: Now the other parent.  Tell a story that says something about this parent. Again, save the big stuff for later if you can. Make this kind of a small event, story, vignette.

In my dad’s office there were two steel cases, each with a lid on top that swung open on a hinge. In these cases were the business accounts receivable. That’s what he called them. Accounts receivable. He sold heating oil and farm gas. He had customers. He delivered product to them, kept them warm in the winter, kept tractors and farm equipment running through the growing season. After deliveries, he went back to the home office in the front room of the house and entered amounts he had billed into ledgers. He extended credit to people. On a regular basis people came to the house and paid their bills. He wrote receipts and entered payments on the ledgers.  Once a month he made a photocopy of each ledger and sent monthly bills to customers. They came to the house, many of them, and paid their bills. Some sent checks in by mail. 

In the mid 60’s, he added a gas station to his business. This meant more accounts receivable, more credit he extended.  Credit cost him money. For cash flow, he had a running line of credit at Michigan National Bank at a high interest rate that kept him awake at night. 

There were people who didn’t pay. Some kept a running balance. When I started driving his truck and doing deliveries for him, Dad would say to me, “You can deliver $100 in gas at Security Septic Company.  But go in the office and get the check before you make the delivery. If they don’t pay, don’t make the delivery.”

One day a guy who owed Dad money parked his car on our gas station drive and went into the coffee shop. Jim Ingraim was kind of a tough guy, a drinker, a welder, not the kind of guy my dad liked much. A few minutes after Jim went into the restaurant, Dad walked over the car and took the keys out of the switch. When Jim came out, he had to see my Dad. “Where’s the keys, John?” “You owe me money,” Dad said. “Gimme my keys back, John.” “You owe me money,” Dad said. It was a pretty tense standoff.  Finally Jim reached in his pocket, pulled out a handful of bills, and paid. Dad went in the station, wrote a receipt, and gave it to him.  I don’t think Jim ever came back. Dad went home and updated that ledger.  

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