I mean, right? How can you not be relaxed when you're looking at views like that all day long?
Despite Michigan's best efforts to calm my frazzled, East Coast urban nerves, the relaxing simply wouldn't stick. I returned to DC to find a million little broken things and un-run errands that were placed in my path by some masochistic higher power who delights in seeing yuppies twitch with accumulated rage.
Scene One: I arrive home to find the following items broken: my iPod, my DSL connection and my bathroom light fixture. Individually these would have been annoying, but their combined suckage in one short night instantly drew me back from the beach into a world of automated telephone help lines and quiet showers in the dark. Due to a past encounter with Verizon customer service that was straight out of The Devil Wears Prada (boss made me order device that was not yet available to general public, the Mumbai-based service rep was rather unenthusiastic about my dilemma and I spent all of Thanksgiving evening screaming at various managers, convinced I would be fired by my Anna Wintour-esque boss because I wasn't able to purchase a model of Treo that had not yet been manufactured for sale), I approached the DSL issue with a wary hostility. My worst expectations were naturally fulfilled, and culminated with me yelling at the automated operator "No, I did NOT say BILLING ISSUE. GET ME TO CUSTOMER SERVICE, YOU STUPID BITCH!"
Shockingly, this did not get my DSL fixed. That took three human operators, one of whom spoke English, one repairman who arrived a day early (appreciated) at 8:45 AM (not appreciated) and one repairman's supervisor who examined the tangle of wires that is my setup and said "well, fuck if don't know what's wrong here."
Scene Two: I've been trying to get my car registered in DC for months. MONTHS. You can't get your car registered until you get it inspected at a station in Southeast. My car has twice failed inspection because something called the OBD II is not scanning. To fix this problem, the District of Columbia presented me with a charming piece of paper containing a seventeen-point driving course regimen that would make the Duke brothers shudder with fear. For example:
"Step Seven: Drive 5 mph for 30 seconds and accelerate to 35 mph for 10 seconds. Brake hard to a dead stop and accelerate to 55 mph in under 12 seconds. Drive at 55 mph for two minutes and decelerate to 8 mph for 20 seconds."
What this lovely document does not share with the driver is where, exactly, one is supposed to perform this seventeen-step stunt driving course. Am I to get up at 3 AM and peel up and down East Capitol, praying all the while that the Capitol Police are too distracted by a Kennedy to notice that the city is making me drive like a madwoman?
And what's more, I'll be doing this illegally, because it's taken so long to try to get the car registered that the original registration on it has expired.
Scene Three: I take my iPod to the Apple store. They have no appointments for five hours. I make an appointment for five hours later. I return, they inspect my iPod and pronounce it dead. "When did you buy it?" they ask. "June of last year," I respond. "Oh that's too bad," they say, "because the automatic warranty only lasts for a year." "Let me get this straight," I said, "if it had broken two weeks ago, or if I had punted it down a football field two weeks ago, you would have given me a new model for free? But there is nothing you can do for me now?" "Well," they said, "it's a year old! That's ancient! We've had, like, six new models since you bought it."
Right. How very naive of me to expect that something that costs three hundred dollars would still be functional a year after purchase! Silly, silly, EJ!
"Or," they continue, "you could test all of your files. Try playing each of your songs one at a time and see if the iPod freezes."
I have 4,434 songs on my iPod.
I leave, giving the surreptitious finger to the smug, be-tattooed "Genius" at the checkout counter.
Scene Four: I suddenly remember that I purchased this iPod at a Best Buy. Normally this is a terrible idea, but I had also purchased a three-year warranty with it. SCORE.
I go to Best Buy, present my situation and proudly cut off the bored-looking clerk who starts to drone that they can do nothing for me because the thirty-day waiting period has passed by smacking the warranty card on the counter with a satisfying THWAP. Being a packrat does come in handy. Not expecting his customer to be prepared and responsible, the Best Buy rep must find another way to inconvenience and anger me. "So are you going to replace it?" I ask. "No, we can't do that," he says, looking even more smug than the Apple guy. "We'll send it out for service. You get it back August 18."
I am literally speechless for a moment, then start practically spitting. "First of all, Apple told me it could not be fixed. They don't know what the problem is, but it's an old model that they don't even make any more. And if you somehow do fix it, it's just going to break again, because it's an old model, and I'll have to bring it back here and you'll keep it for another six weeks, is that right?"
I'm pretty sure I have steam coming out of my ears at this point. He stares at me for a second, raises his eyebrows and says "You're probably right. But that's all I'm going to do for you."
Actually, that part was pretty okay.
There's probably a moral in all this. Something like "acquiring stuff can't make you happy," or "material possessions end up owning you."
That's beautiful. You know what else is beautiful? My IPOD. And DRIVING LEGALLY. And BEING ABLE TO SEE WHETHER I'M ABOUT TO STEP ON MY BATHMAT OR IN THE CAT'S LITTERBOX.
At least the DSL is working.