I’m rolling in the dough now.
OK, so we’re not talking about enough dough to actually roll in. It’s not even enough dough to make a biscuit. It’s the kind of dough that could get lost in your car seat.
I recently received a check for 62 cents from the Texas comptroller of public accounts. Turns out that I was owed that 62 cents in unclaimed property from Sallie Mae, the corporation that handles student loans.
So it’s not exactly like my ship has come in. A rubber duck might be more like it.
So 62 cents won’t pay for, say, a cruise on Carnival, but who wants to ride on Carnival anyway? Any cruise on which the passengers are glad to land in Alabama can’t be all that great, right?
I can thank my wife, Kay, for tracking down my 62 cents. Kay was watching the evening TV news when she saw a story about how many people in the U.S. are entitled to money for property they’ve never claimed.
We’re talking the big bucks here, with the possibility of untold riches. According to CNN/Money, Americans are owed more than $58 billion in unclaimed cash and benefits from “states, federal agencies and other organizations.” That’s enough for everybody in the country to get a $186 cut. And some lucky stiffs are entitled to a much larger pile than my lousy 62 cents. Last year somebody in Connecticut claimed $32.8 million from the sale of almost 1.3 million shares of stock.
So Kay did a little digging on www.unclaimed.org and discovered that John G. Kelso, formerly of 1607 Fair Oaks Drive in South Austin — in other words, me — was owed “0.62” from Sallie Mae Inc.
Until I visited this site, I didn’t realize there were so many other John Kelsos out there. And some of them have a bigger stake than me in this unclaimed property bonanza. Take John G. Kelso of Harvard, Mass. He’s owed more than $100 by First Allmerica Financial Life.
But the website list doesn’t tell me how much more than $100 the Harvard, Mass., John G. Kelso has coming. Maybe he’s up for a huge take. Maybe I should claim I’m John G. Kelso of Harvard, Mass. Maybe I should drive up there and knock on the door. Hey, Uncle Johnny, remember me?
You’re probably wondering why Sallie Mae owes me a whopping 62 cents. I called the Texas comptroller’s Unclaimed Property Claims Section and was told the amount dates to 1994 and that I probably had 62 cents’ credit from a student loan I paid off. I did put an in-law through beauty school back in those days, so maybe that explains it.
The 62-cent check showed up in the mail Thursday. Maybe I’ll have it framed and hang it on my office wall next to the $30 check I got from the newspaper after I expense-accounted a dog massage for my little dog Harry 13 years ago on South Lamar. It was a legitimate expense since I wrote about it. But getting left off with that dog masseuse made Harry really nervous. And I can’t say I blame him. The pet masseuse told me how she had been talking to some cows and that the cows talked back.
Now I’ve got to decide how to spend my free money. What can you do with 62 cents?
You can buy nearly 0.13 of a pound of Gummy Bears from the bulk section at Central Market, for one thing. Or I could park downtown at a meter for half an hour for a couple of quarters, still have 12 cents left over, and then drive around for half an hour looking for a parking spot while burning up more than 62 cents’ worth of gas. Or, with just 62 cents in my pocket, I could get thrown out of the W Hotel for vagrancy.
So maybe I should just give the 62 cents to some guy on the corner flying a sign. So what if he’ll use it for 20 percent of a beer?