Thursday, November 21, 2013


“Your name is in the paper,” my husband announced to me this morning.

“Where?” I asked sleepily. He gets up earlier than I do, a habit from his working days, which theoretically at least, are supposed to resume again soon. Not soon enough for me, but soon. He handed me a long list from the classified section of people who had unclaimed property in the possession of the state treasurer’s office.

I saw that my name was listed as Coleslaw*, MD. The last time I saw my name with MD after it, instead of MS, it was on the subpoena that was issued for me last summer, that I missed getting because I was on vacation. I wondered if the list could be some kind of sting operation to attract people who had eluded subpoenas, although I had called the first business day after I got home to let the Sheriff’s office know that I was home and prepared to be served. By then they had made the obligatory three attempts and sent it back to the court. 

I looked up the treasurer’s office online and discovered a link to unclaimed property. There I was indeed listed as the owner of an unclaimed check for $136. My address was listed as my former work address. I know I am the only person with my name ever associated with the place, incorrect honorific or no. I think I know how MD got associated with my name, too. Since my former employer is a rehabilitation facility for children, it accepts insurance payments from various insurers. Each year for the past several before I retired, all the therapists had to fill out forms for each insurance company giving our credentials. The forms were designed for people with medical degrees. Filling them out correctly if you were a speech pathologist or physical or occupational therapist was a chore. Yes, these companies knew what services they were being billed for. Yes, they covered those services. No, they couldn’t be bothered to rewrite their forms to make it easy for people in health related fields to fill out. So somewhere along the way I became Me, MD. 

I filed a claim on the website, which required me to fill in infomation, and then print out a form to be mailed in with a copy of my driver’s license or other government issued ID, a copy of my Social Security card or other proof of SSN, and documentary evidence that the address listed was my former address. I was kind of stuck for the last one until my husband thought to look for my last W-2 form. I also had to sign the last page and have it notarized, a detail that cost me 10 bucks.

Paying $10 to reclaim $136 sounds worthwhile, but my hunch is that this unclaimed check is really payment for services rendered by me but payable to my employer. If in the meantime, my employer dealt with the insurance company and got a new check issued to the agency itself, the check is probably worthless. Even if it is still good, simple decency suggests I ought to give them what is supposed to be their money.

On the other hand, it could be something meant for me. I hate to let it languished unclaimed, even if only because I’d keep wondering about it.

So the papers, documentary evidence and notarized signature are now in the mail, and maybe in a few weeks I will have an unexpected windfall, just in time for Christmas.

That’s kind of nice, when you think about it.

*Not Coleslaw, of course, my real name. My very unusual real name.

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