One among thousands of problems I face every day is the dreaded short space of time between one true obligation and another. As I begin to write this, I have forty minutes before 1) leaving my house, 2) going out in the rain, 3) meeting a friend to) get on the A train and 4) see First Position.* What do I do in the meantime that will have some meaning? I’m showered & in non-dog clothes so I don’t want to clean. If I got going on the revision of Sex and the Pity in the next thirty-seven minutes it could be damaging to leave it. I am sick unto death of computer games. There are numerous small things I could do – transfer money and pay a bill, put earrings away, clean my desk – but there is every chance that by the time I get back and walk dogs, I will be psychically exhausted.** I’d like to do, or at least begin something, that counts toward my real self...whatever that is.
As I was being scalded in the shower, adjusting the hot and cold water knobs which are, for some reason, reversed in my bathtub, waiting for the “water-saving” shower head that was foisted upon us all by law a few years ago, my eye caught a note on the cream rinse bottle. “Turn off the tap,” it touted, while conditioning your hair.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I thought. I am the very victim of male thinking right now. The “water-saving shower head” takes forever to adjust to a tolerable temperature, thereby wasting water. It takes at least twice as long to rinse my hair under it as it would under a hard spray, and if I’m, say, coloring my hair, it takes about five times longer. If I had one finger to shower in cold water, I’m sure it would water, but in the ordinary course of things, it’s a waste of both time and water.
And now I’m told to turn off the tap while I condition my hair.
First off, does anyone really condition her hair? If she does condition her hair, would she spend five minutes slathered under the stuff without doing something else in the shower? Surely she’d take that time to shave her legs or loofa her back. What kind of idiot just stands there?
If I were to turn off my tap, it would take three minutes of fiddling with the hot and cold to find a tolerable temperature.
And does anyone really shampoo twice?
I am being admittedly sexist when I say that it took a man to think this stuff up. A bald man.
And who at Maxwell House wants to take credit for the design of their coffee cans? They have base and rim of metal but the tube is made of cardboard. The crime in this design is twofold.
First, the rim juts out so that it’s nearly impossible to shake the last coffee grounds into either the new can or the pot. I know, I know: there’s not many grounds left so what’s the big deal?
The big deal is Anne Frank. She could – and would – have collected those grounds until she could make her papa a weak cup of coffee after dinner on the first day of Chanukah. I resent my right to thrift and apocalyptic generosity being thwarted.
Second, how do you recycle said coffee container? I am a slave to recycling, always fussing at it downstairs where my busy neighbors dump wine bottles in the baskets clearly marked paper and their newspapers in those clearly marked plastics. For whatever reason, New York City recycling wants milk and orange juice cartons in with the soda bottles, but this is graphically clear as well.
So I looked at this coffee container and estimated it was more cardboard by square inch than it was aluminum and duly tossed it in the paper recycling. When I saw the bags outside, it had been moved to metals and plastics. Would it be too much to ask Mayor Bloomberg to pronounce upon where such mixed messages belong? Or might Maxwell House take a look at oatmeal packaging which is all cardboard except for the recyclable plastic lid?
The above ate up the time I had before leaving for the movie. Twenty-four hours later, I have combed through the private information I store in a big coffee can (a Café Bustello can, made entirely of aluminum) by my desk and cannot find a recent letter from World Financial Capital Bank. (I keep everything with account numbers to burn in a friend’s fireplace.)
A month or so ago, I opened a bill that I expected would either be about $90 or $7.50, depending on whether the company had received the items I returned. Instead it was more than $150, with a second charge marked “bath” after it. Bath? I’ve ordered nothing for the bath. I went online and this bath charge was not among the purchasing history that went back some months. I called my credit card.
A nice woman took my information and said there would be an investigation into the bath order. In the meantime, they had received my return and that had been deducted from my account. She couldn’t access my order history so I could only tell her that this bath-thing didn’t appear.
A few weeks passed and I received a letter from the World Financial Capital Bank, which seems to own every merchandise card out there. How could I have not saved this? My students fresh off the boat from Gabon could have written a more understandable business letter. At least one boner included something along the grammatical lines of, “You are responsible for any other charges, Due on your remaining balance.” Then, from what I could puzzle out, the letter went on to say that the bath charge had been removed not because there had been a mistake but because the package had been returned as non-deliverable.
Funny thing, I’m here in the Bat Cave for about 20 hours a day.
This was my latest but not my only run-in with WFCB because this winter I had received a yearly fee bill for a card I thought I had closed, do not possess and had never called to open. I called, explained to the person that I wanted the account closed and the fee removed. He kindly said it was taken care of.
A month passed. A bill came from the same company came, now twice the amount because the yearly fee had collected both interest and a late fee. I called once again and was assured it would, now, be taken care of.
This month they asked me for Daisy and my Barbie collection. I called once again, this time to find out that Capital One had taken over that particular credit card. I explained yet again and have been assured that, this time, the charges have been removed.
The ironies are rife. They had, in fact, closed my account upon my initial request but had not gone through the rest of the motions they assured me were to follow. Someone out there, they thought, was either rich, lazy or dumb enough to send in Busy Gal Barbie and a yellow Labrador to an account that doesn’t exist. Credit card companies are as bad as Zimbabwe email scammers.
The next irony is that I got a letter from my Discover card sharply reducing my credit limit. I use that card for big purchases and emergencies; there’s never much activity on it. At first I thought, oh so what. Upon re-reading the letter, however, I saw that their reasons were late fees and nonpayment. My pride was injured.
A big shout-out to Discover, the only credit card whose operatives not only identify themselves by name but by location. We went through the problems, which I had to explain in exactly this detail, the representative put me on hold for less than a minute and then came back with a reinstated credit limit. We laughed about the situation and I once again praised Discover for being the most co-operative credit card company I have dealt with.
But thanks to WFBC, my credit rating is probably about 200 right now.
It’s bad enough to be a day late because I couldn’t haul my ass out of bed – it’s bad enough not to have the wherewithal to shower every day – it’s bad enough that I pick the yucky deli container someone didn’t rinse out of the paper recycling – but I’ve been hopping mad at the illogic behind what I do manage to do.
* I am s-l-o-w-l-y emerging from this long, long semi-death that includes incredible social anxiety. Each of the above is an impossibility. I already feel like throwing up.