It’s a mystery. It reminds me of the sets of socks I put in the washer, and only one reappears after the machine is done washing.

I sent my check into the tax collector’s office on June 18, wanting to make sure it was postmarked by the due date, June 20. After reconciling my checking account twice since then, and still no check being cashed by the tax collecting department, I began to wonder and worry.

Did Congress pass a bill stating that property taxes were no longer necessary, or that everyone would get a vacation from them this tax season? I was quite certain if that news ticker had gone across the TV screen, it would have caught my eye. Had our local assessor decided that everyone in Clearwater County needed a break from taxes, and that the office would cover the expenses this year? As much as the people in that department would probably like to be able to do that sometimes, especially for extra disgruntled property owners, I knew that wasn’t possible.

After waiting and watching for three weeks, and still no check cashed, I thought I’d better do some checking. I stopped into the tax collector’s office Friday and saw a familiar, friendly face that I’ve been missing seeing lately. There was Sandy, my friend formerly from Banner Bank. It was good to see her again, and just like at the branch, she made me feel welcomed.

We both pondered where this mystery check could be. She looked in several files to see if maybe the check was being held for some reason. No, that wasn’t it. She checked with Wendy, her co-worker, when she returned from lunch, and we all agreed, the payment had gone AWOL.

Because I had included the slips from the tax bill along with my check, the envelope was fairly heavy. Could it be there wasn’t enough postage? No, I remember taking a couple of extra heavy envelopes and putting them on the postal machine for weight, to make sure that if anything the postage was overpaid.

Did I completely forget to mail it? Since the Tribune’s taxes arrived on time, even though it was sent in a separate envelope to avoid confusion for anyone, I clearly remember dropping our personal property tax payment in the outside mail receptacle at the post office two days before it was due.

After finding out the payment was missing, I meticulously searched through filed paperwork at the office, thinking maybe I had accidentally put it in a spot it shouldn’t be, and I could run the envelope to them on Friday. No such luck.

So, the check is still missing. I reissued another one, stopped payment on the first one, and Sandy reassured me that if the other missing check ever does show up, the small amount I had to be charged for penalty and interest would be refunded. I told her that was very kind of them. I really do appreciate that they are always so cordial to me at the courthouse with whatever kind of question or dilemma I may have.

But, I’m wondering, if the envelope shows up, along with the hundreds of socks that we have lost in the laundry throughout the years, will they be so happy to see me next time. Like the missing socks though, I imagine the check will forever remain a mystery, floating around in the stratosphere somewhere with all those mismatched socks.

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