The $47,283.77 Bowl of Beans

There is a belief that eating beans – specifically black eyed peas – on New Year’s Day will bring prosperity. I’d never paid much attention to this superstition, as it’s mainly a belief in the South. Besides, the closest I’d ever gotten to a black eyed pea was downloading “I Gotta Feeling” from iTunes.

A bowl of black eyed peas on New Year's Day is believed to bring good luck.

Even though Nevada is about 18 states away from the South, Tara’s family honors this tradition by cooking up a pot of black eyed peas every New Year’s Day for their potluck. So, when we were down there on her uncle’s ranch on Sunday, she urged me to dig in. I happily did so – I love baked beans, and never pass up an opportunity to dish myself up a bowl. They were delicious, too. I could’ve polished off another couple of servings, but there was already so much other good food I didn’t want to fill up on beans alone. I urged Tara to grab a bowl, too – who couldn’t use an extra dose of wealth and luckiness? – but she isn’t as fond of beans as I am, and insisted that I’d eaten enough to assure good luck for us both in 2012.

I didn’t press the issue, because I’m not one to place much stock in superstitions. In fact, I have been known to intentionally walk beneath an open ladder just for the hell of it. I also refuse to freak out if a black cat crosses my path, and if I spill the salt, I don’t throw a handful over my shoulder afterwards – I merely grumble beneath my breath and wipe the mess up from the table. Lucky pennies? Four-leaf clovers? Rabbits’ feet? Give me a break. Frosted Lucky Charms may be magically delicious, but my cereal bowl is more likely to contain Rice Krispies. I’m all about the snap, crackle and pop, baby.

So, when I opened the envelope from the hospital where I spent six lovely nights and days right after Thanksgiving, the last thing I was thinking it would contain was good news. I figured it was a delinquency notice at best, or a threat to garnish my future wages for the next twenty-five years. Instead, I found the following paragraph.

Your application for a reduction in your bill under our Indigency Allowance Policy has resulted in a 100% charity allowance to the balance listed in the TOTAL AMOUNT DUE field of this letter. You owe nothing for this account. ~ Patient Financial Services.

My jaw dropped and I reread the letter to make sure I wasn’t missing the fine print somewhere, but there was no fine print, only the glorious words “you owe nothing” which danced before my eyes in a wondrous tango.

You owe nothing.

You owe nothing.

I owe nothing!!ย 

Which means my entire bill has been magically wiped out. The total amount due – $47,283.77 – has disappeared. It’s gone. Poof! Hasta la vista, baby. Sayonara, debt.

These Black Eyed Peas bring "Boom Boom Pow" through your stereo speakers.

This is nothing short of a miracle. Sure, I had completed the application for assistance. And yes, the woman who stopped by my room that first fateful day to collect the paperwork had said that it was possible my entire bill would be paid given my continued unemployment, lack of income, and responsibility to my dependents. But I never really believed that, and refused to get my hopes up. It seemed too good to be true. How does one walk into a hospital with no health insurance, have a surgery, stay in a private room for six nights, and leave without owing a cent?! It boggles the mind. I guess this makes me officially indigent, which is a bitter pill to swallow – wounded pride and all – but one in which I will happily gobble down in exchange for not having to fork over so much as a nickel. Take that, mutinous gallbladder! Ha!!

I eagerly called my girlfriend to share the news. She was a little relieved that I wouldn’t have to do something crazy like sell the townhouse or put an ad up on Craigslist for a kidney for sale or pimp myself out in order to pay that massive bill. And then she reminded me about the beans.

“Looks like they’re already bringing you good fortune,” she declared.

Holy crap. She was right! Surely this was no mere coincidence. The black eyed peas that I had eaten a mere 92 hours earlier were already working their magic. As if to hammer this point home, I had just gotten off the phone with the HR rep from a company I had applied to, setting up an interview for Monday. Hadn’t even had a chance to share that bit o’ good news with Tara yet.

True, I didn’t go all Rain Man while in Vegas and sock it to the casino, but then again I played the slots on January 2nd. Those beans probably hadn’t been fully digested yet, and I’m sure they at least have to run their course through your body in order to start working properly. Yeah, I know, eww – but it makes sense. I wish I’d saved the gambling for Tuesday instead.

Be that as it may, they’re workin’ just fine now. I am eager to sit back and see what other positive turns of events will be transpiring for me this year. And you can bet your ass that on January 1, 2013 I’ll be helping myself to a second bowl of those black eyed peas.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

29 thoughts on “The $47,283.77 Bowl of Beans

  1. Damnit Mark! This PSA is 6 days too late! Oh for f!$&@ sakes! It never occurred to you to pass this little nugget of knowledge on say….. 7 days ago so I could be prepared? DUDE! So not cool!
    I’m putting it on my calendar right now, clearly you can’t be trusted….


    1. Only because I didn’t actually believe it myself, Robyn. Now that you’re in the know, you can look forward to your own prosperity – in a mere 360 days! Yeah, sorry, it’s Leap Year. You have to wait even longer.


  2. You’re welcome. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’ll have to make sure I get Grandma’s recipe just in case we aren’t able to make it to Ely next year.


    1. Oops. Right…thank you, babe. You are directly responsible for my good fortune by urging me to eat those beans in the first place. I owe you. Come up here and collect in 13 days, okay? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And yes…I’d love to have that recipe just to make them on an unlucky Wednesday in June. They were that good!


  3. You. owe. nothing.


    *jumping up and down; SCREAMING*


    OMG, I bet that feels INCREDIBLE, Mark! And good for you, buddy!

    “There is a belief that eating beans โ€“ specifically black eyed peas โ€“ on New Yearโ€™s Day will bring prosperity.”

    I had never heard that before, but I DO love beans – specifically black eyed peas!

    Okay, so now I’m going to OD on beans this weekend.

    And then I’m going to sit in a bathtub….and create my very own JACUZZI!


    Have a FAB weekend, Mark! And again, congrats on the great news!


    1. Thank god our jacuzzi suite at the Mandalay Bay had a jetted tub. I’d consider your version a real ripoff, Ron – no offense! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Nevertheless, enjoy your beans this weekend!!


  4. Shhhh. You have to pay federal income tax on any money you did not have to spend. See, you also have to pay tax on all money you did not earn because you were out of work. Not paying attention and being in love and writing books is going to get you in a lot of trouble Mark. You may get “beaned” by the IRS for publishing this post about your good fortune(good Lord, what were you thinking?). and that won’t be lucky because once you are tagged you remain “in system” even after you die. They have ” estate” tax and “no estate” tax too.


    1. I’m going to have to trot out the ol’ “somebody hacked my account and posted this nonsense” excuse, then. In fact…CARL!! I asked you never to abuse my password. Real funny, mister….


  5. You know….. I had beans on New Year’s Eve and I got myself two new clients this weekend, a husband a wife team. ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe there’s something to that~!

    Having to not owe that money is equivalent to winning the lottery. (sort of…)


  6. Hey now … my whole family had a steaming bowl of black eyed peas on New Year’s Day, too. And 12 grapes (I hear that’s another way to ensure luck — a grape for every month of the year).

    Yet all I have to show for it is a string of delinquent client checks and too much work to see straight.

    Perhaps my luck is en route? Fingers crossed…

    But I’m happy for you, Mark. I can only imagine how relieved you are! ๐Ÿ™‚


  7. Jeez, Mark, I am crying! Seriously. That is a gift from the blackeyed pea Gods. They knew what you truly really needed and they complied. I have some back eyed peas in our food room. I should have them tonight fried in burgers instead of those fickle black beans. (Or maybe I should wait to eat them when we really need them? Will continue to ponder this while celebrating your marvelous news.)


  8. That’s wonderful news, Mark. I’m so happy for you.

    Weirdly, beans (black) are figuring prominently in my life too – I have a friend who has struggled with his weight all his life. He found a “diet” that has helped him drop more than 80 pounds in 10 months – with no plateauing, and no misery! The key has been to substitute beans (of any kind) for the non-vegetable side dish that one would normally eat. (Think potatoes, rice, bread – all those simple carb foods.) High protein, low cal and satisfying. He’s becoming a master at making beans tasty.

    I’m beginning to believe that beans are magic ๐Ÿ™‚


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