Friday, February 24, 2012

Closed off

Last night my wife and I had the closing on a mortgage refinance. It’s been in the works for a while but I haven’t really mentioned it much (at all) because it’s exceptionally dry stuff. We get to lock in a lower interest rate and we’ll end up shelling out about a thousand bucks less per year. Of course with the re-fi we’re starting the whole thirty year process over again after two years of progress, so that’s a trade-off, however abstract and theoretical since the year 2042 still seems like a science fiction milieu more than anything.

It's a beautiful diurnal cycle in the residi-complex ...
Then again on the other hand we could pay more than the minimum every month and get ahead of the curve faster with the lower interest rate, potentially. I don’t know exactly how easy or difficult it would be to make up 24 months, partially because I haven’t crunched the numbers (and don’t know exactly how to factor in jargon like “amortization”) and partially because it doesn’t really matter, re-financing at a lower interest rate while those low rates were still available seemed like the prudent and responsible grown-up thing to do and blah blha blah. It definitely doesn’t matter now because it’s all a done deal!

The loan company was nice enough to send a notary out to our house last night to collect the dozens of signatures across a mountain of paperwork required for the closing. And he was … interesting. I know I will in all likelihood never see the gentleman again in this lifetime, so what I ultimately make of him isn’t a critical matter, but these are the things that stick in my head sometimes.

I should back up and say the whole situation was a little strange. My wife was home with the kids yesterday and took them to a farm park in the afternoon, then had the laudable idea to swing by a local restaurant for takeout before heading home again. Said restaurant (a) has awesome Mexican food and (b) is supposedly going out of business very soon, two very strong reasons informing her planning. Unfortunately, the restaurant was not answering the phone at the time my wife tried to call ahead with the dinner order, so my wife simply headed west ahead of rush hour traffic and ended up getting Chipotle, which to be fair is always welcome. I, on the other hand, elected to stay a little later than usual at work since I didn’t need to pick the kids up at daycare but could stand to make up some leave time for the recent sick days. So I knew I would be getting home at about 5:45 and the notary would be arriving around 6, but fortunately Chipotle is something I can wolf down with gusto.

At any rate, the notary arrived right on time and I had inhaled my burrito grande but my wife was still finishing hers. The little guy had wandered away from the dinner table and the little girl was waiting patiently in the high chair for her feeding time to begin. Also the playroom was in its usual state of whimsical disarray while the kitchen’s array was in somewhat extra dis, since my daughter had scattered a pile of loose papers earlier and no one had gathered them up yet. The whole middle-of-dinner, house-a-mess vibe is generally one of those barometers for a relationship: totally fine if good friends stop by, to be avoided if you’re trying to make a good first impression on anyone else, excellent excuse to get solicitors off your doorstep, etc. It’s hard to say, though, where exactly the notary falls on that continuum. He’s a guest in our home, but representative of a necessary annoying formality, but one that we specifically opened ourselves up to … I probably should have felt worse about the inhospitable conditions, but I wrote it off to doing the best we could with our over-chaotic lives.

At the very least, I did remember to shoo the dogs out into the backyard before letting the notary in through the front door, though of course the dogs still went ballistic barking at the stranger they could see through the dining room’s sliding glass doors. Which the notary responded to with a peevish, “Oh, hush!” back at them. And I thought this was a little odd. Maybe it’s due in part to my ruminations earlier this week about how I’ve gone from cat-hater/dog-appreciator-at-a-distance to ark co-pilot, but I really do take for granted that you can generally assume most people like their own pets and a surefire way to ingratiate yourself to people you’ve just met is to slop metaphorical sugar on whatever critters might present themselves as such. Even if said critters take the form of noisy barking dogs, it only takes the bare minimum of self-awareness to acknowledge that most dogs are at least somewhat territorial and you are the invader on their turf. When I lived in a townhouse I confess I grew deeply annoyed with my neighbors who owned large and highly territorial dogs who would stand in their living room windows and bark at me and my dog as we walked down the sidewalk, but again, I knew it wasn’t the dogs’ fault that their owners had made a bad combination of small physical property and overprotective canine. And even that annoyance would have been misplaced if I had actually crossed the threshold into one of those neighboring townhouses.

And the sneering at our pooches might not even have left that much of an impression on me except that about halfway through the signing (which, I gratefully point out, only took about thirty-eight minutes total) the notary made a weirdly disparaging comment about how out eldest cat was almost too fat to fit through the cat door leading to the basement. Sure, we make fun of her swaggle-belly all the time, but she’s our cat. Borderline contemptuous mockery of family members, even four-legged ones, is not the ideal way to win people over.

Yet, again, what would have been the point in winning us over? His job was to get all the paperwork signed and good to go, and our job was to scribble next to every X he pointed out, and we got all that done. Just to top off all the weirdness, when we had finished the closing paperwork and the notary was ready to leave, I walked him to the door. Earlier I had led the way into the house, but this time I followed him. And that was when I noticed that he actually had a fair amount of difficulty walking, including a very stiff-legged gait which made stepping over and around things exceptionally perilous, and I came down decisively on the side of feeling terrible for not having tidied up better before he arrived, or at least cleared a better floorpath.

I’m not really sure what the takeaway for all this should be, if in fact there is any. Cut all living creatures some slack? That’s pretty much my life philosophy in a nutshell, so sure, let’s go with that.

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