Lessons from My Father

Dad died peacefully in his bed, with his children around him.

The last of our greatest generation.  The last of the generation who grew up in poverty, fought in the wars that American won, worked hard and, with the help of the GI bill and public education, lived the American Dream.

And, most of all, Dad was a good, kind and loving man.  And, as the rabbi said, he was an extraordinary, ordinary person, who felt so fortunate in life and was always ready to share with others less fortunate.

The Shiva candle burned for a week.  That final day, I watched as the flame flickered and weakened.  I was scared that I would lose Dad as soon as that candle went out.  As the day wore on and the candle was finally extinguished, I knew that I needed to make sure that the best of Dad lived on in me.

And he was a whole lot nicer than I am.

Today, I was on the subway heading to work, and torturing myself with reading my siblings’ beautiful eulogies and listening to Ode to Joy (Himno de la Alegría), which I played for Dad in his last days.  Ok, not Jewish, but I wanted Dad to leave this world with stirring music. (I also played Psalms as is our tradition).

I got off at my stop (Penn Station) and walked quickly to the staircase.

There was a man blocking the staircase.  Everyone, including me, was exasperated that he was slowing us down.

But, I felt Dad put his now immortal hand on my shoulder, and I looked more closely at the man.  He had a cane and looked far too enfeebled for his age.  He looked like the many of the people in Penn Station — a little shabby and a lot down on their luck.

And I could tell he could not figure out how to manage his suitcase while negotiating the stairs with a cane.

“Sir, please let me be of assistance,” I said more as a statement than a request.

He looked at me, somewhat suspiciously and then somewhat relieved.

“Let me carry your suitcase down the stairs right behind you.”  He nodded.

We descended the stairs at his pace.  Many people behind us were sighing loudly in frustration. I didn’t care.  Even though a few minutes earlier, I was one of them.

We reached the landing and he looked unsure how to get out of the subway labyrinth and into Penn Station.

I pointed him in the right direction, but realized that there were more stairs, so I took the suitcase and deposited at the top of the stairs, so when he finished climbing them, the suitcase would be waiting for him.

At that point, I think he was getting uncomfortable with my help.  And I also knew that there were no more stairs until he had to board his commuter train.  So, I directed him and shook his hand and wished him a safe trip.

I dedicate these moments of kindness to my Dad because while the candle’s flame went out, the example of his life is not extinguished.

I love you forever, Dad.

Sounds of Silence

I don’t usually wear headphones in the subway and I try not to look at my emails or texts.  I like to be “in the moment” with the chaos and the subhuman conditions of the New York transit system.

It was Friday evening around 7pm. Maybe the slog of a week of work, the intense cold, the endless winter, the bleakness of the gray-black ice still on the streets were heavy on most of the passengers in the subway car.

Those are my guesses, but I don’t really know why the West Side 96th Street station was quiet and the subway car, too, was quiet.  Silent, actually.  I could feel the silence because I was not connected by headphones to another reality.

It was a rare moment of peace in the City That Never Sleeps (or Shuts Up).  In fact, it was a cosmic anomaly.

And then this bubble of peace was punctured by a man with a nervous laugh and a too-loud voice saying to his co-worker (I was following the thread since 42nd Street), “It is literally so quiet, you could hear a pin drop.  Where did that saying come from?  The quiet is freaking me out a little.” [screechy giggle followed by senseless ramblings.]

Actually, dude, it wasn’t quiet anymore.  But your interruption of it made it so much sweeter by the contrast.

And the co-worker you were hitting on isn’t interested.  Just sayin’.

The Future is Bright

I am executrix/administrator/trustee/attorney-in-fact for quite a few in the elder generation, whether alive and dead or, frankly, somewhere in between.

When ULOB died, he had no will.  So his only heirs at law were those immediate blood relations who survived him — SOB, BOB and me.   The word, “heir,” has a connotation that one sits back and someone unknown official throws money and jewels at such lucky heir.

Now, back to reality.  There was an apartment to clean out, assets to be gathered, debts to be paid and tax returns to be filed.  And that means that at least one person has to step up and seek appointment by the surrogate’s court as administrator.  Translation:  At least one of SOB, BOB and me.

I drew the short straw.  I don’t actually think we had a contest.  I think SOB and BOB met when I was in the bathroom and decided that I was in charge.  At least they apologized.

And so, I became the court-appointed administrator for ULOB.  The gathering of assets and paying of debts were not difficult.  Figuring out the fate of the annuities that named the two women of his life — AROB and POULOB — as joint beneficiaries, was harder.

SIDEBAR:  All I can say that if AROB and POULOB had both survived ULOB and I had to divide these annuities between the two — well, I would not think so kindly of ULOB.  AROB (z”l) made life less uncomfortable by predeceasing ULOB.

And then, there are three tax returns — one for the year in which ULOB died, one of ULOB’s estate and one that I have to file as the fiduciary of his estate.  Every one of these measures different periods and sometimes counts the same money.  “Whatever,” the three of us say, it isn’t going to bring ULOB back to life so we pay unto Caesar that which the Tax Code says.

Except we didn’t know much about ULOB’s finances.  I chose to continue using ULOB’s long time accountant to make sure we covered everything.  Continuity is important in these matters,  And, because ULOB’s accountant was probably older than ULOB, I also have a lawyer overseeing things.

I sent the stuff off to ULOB’s accountant and hadn’t heard in weeks.  I emailed the lawyer, wondering if perhaps the elder CPA had  . . . .  Luckily, he emailed me that day.  “I am missing social security and pension information.  Can’t do returns without them.  Also need 1099s through date of death.”

SIDEBAR:  ULOB never had very steady work, so who knew he had a [as it turned out, miniscule] pension?  And because I am also consumed with Dad’s taxes, I forgot about the 1099 for social security.  That was my oversight.

Aaargh.  The latter request was easy.  But what pension?  And the Social Security Administration?  The mail had stopped coming long ago.  Oy Oy Oy Oy.

KILL ME NOW.  I WILL MAKE IT EASY AND LIE IN THE MIDDLE OF SIXTH AVENUE.

I looked in ULOB’s decrepit files and figured out the pension source.  But I had to email my siblings.

From: [Blogger]
To: [SOB]; [BOB]
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:23:25 -0400
Subject: [ULOB]

 

So, I learned that [ULOB] got a pension from the Equity League.  Trying to get a 1099.  Also, on the phone with Social Security Administration for a 1099.  I am never being anyone’s executor again ever. [emphasis added]

 

I thought that was a clear statement of my intentions and future wishes.  In retrospect, I should have had a court “so-order” it.

Actually getting the 1099s were time consuming but not difficult (but absolutely bloggable –especially at the SSA office — at another time).  [P.S.: if anyone needs a guide through the morass, just call or email me.]

In four hours, I got both replacement 1099s.  In triumph, I sent an email to my siblings:

 

Got’em

[Blogger]

Sent:

Thursday, March 27, 2014 12:51 PM

To:

[SOB]; [BOB]

Went to the Equity League pension office AND the social security administration and got both missing 1099s!!!!!  I am basking the glory of a productive day.  (although not so productive from a career perspective.)

 

 

But still I do not want any more responsibilities, especially since managing the world of Dad (may he live to 120) is a constant project.  And then SOB, ever the protective older sister, sends me a reply email, gently quieting my fears about the future, all the while adding an additional burden:

[Blogger], Thank you for managing all Dad’s finances and [ULOB]’s will and finances.

I’m sorry but  I listed you as my executor, but don’t worry as we will both be demented and incompetent so you will be excused from the task. [emphasis added]

 

Love,

[SOB]

After a moment of shaking my fist at the screen, I laughed out loud.  SOB always brings me back to the proper perspective.  We will both be in our 90s (G-d willing) and then . . . who cares?  I will be executor.  No problem, SOB.  Bring it on.

The future is, indeed, bright and carefree, after all.

 

The Garden Gnome

I work in Rockefeller Center.  You know, the place in Midtown with the humongous Christmas tree. That august, old, and beautiful tree that was alive before someone decided to kill it to decorate Rockefeller Center.  Soon it will be mulch.  But I digress (of course).

Being a New Yorker with some compassion for tourists, I try to walk around (as opposed to through) a snapshot taken by one tourist of others.  Sometimes, I even offer to take a picture of the whole brood.  And I don’t cut off the one with the biggest hair, just for spite.  (Who says I have been naughty this year?)

But being in Rockefeller Center in December is like living your life on a rush-hour subway car.

As quickly as I dodge one photo op of tourists, I am captured in another.  My face appears in so many photos of treasured memories of strangers.  I am part of their New York experience.  So close to them; just sooooo not a part of their family or experience.

I was just trying to steamroll them so I could get to the subway faster.

But now I am a part of their photo albums.  Short and with a beard (ok, the beard is fake.)

That’s Aunt Garden Gnome to you, thank you very much.

images

Whoa, I need a shave and a wardrobe consult.

The Family of Your Family Are Your Friends

Tonight was ULOB’s tribute at Dance Manhattan, where he was a teacher and a mentor and a dancer.

We had never met ULOB’s other family — members of the dance world.  He had kept his life very compartmentalized.  A survival instinct he learned from his refugee parents.  My mother, his sister, shed some of that armor because of Dad, the happiness of her life and, I hope, her children.  But back to the mystery that is ULOB.

His dance studio wanted to pay tribute to him.  He was beloved.  But little known.  In fact, no one knew he had family or that he was a tap dancer, a ballet dancer, a Broadway dancer, a choreographer (even for the Playboy Club, Gloria Steinem forgive us) or a director, producer and writer of “Me and My Shadow” about the legendary Billy Rose.

One of the dancers said to me, “He was so giving and generous on the dance floor and so in tune with his partner, in a way that very few dancers are.  But he was not someone who chit-chatted about life and family.  That was separate.”

None knew that he was in an early production of Carousel:

Scan 16

No one knew about AROB or POULOB.  Or us.  We were as shocked at the outpouring of love in that dance studio as they were that there was family to celebrate his life and host the tribute.  Pictures of the room before it filled up:

photo 2

photo 1His age, his background, his training were all mysteries to the present day dancers.  They didn’t know his stellar credentials, his serious training, his unrecognized talent.  They knew him simply as Larry, an aging, endearing, dancer who must be have been something in his prime.

SOB and I arranged for the refreshments (wine and food) but one thing that was done solely by the studio was:

photo 3SOB and I were teary-eyed.

Who knew that others missed ULOB?  During the two-hour reception, so many told us how much he touched their lives.

The studio kept him on as an instructor until he was beyond his capabilities to teach.  But for most of his life he taught, and he learned from, his students.

He was a private man and no one will write a column in the New York Times Magazine about the life he lived.

But they should.  And they should remember him like this:

Scan 16With wild applause as he exits stage left.

Tales of Aging in the City

It was, more or less, a typical Saturday.

SOB and I disposed of a week’s worth of scam mail that Dad receives.  Official-looking scams targeting the elderly.  Here is three days’ worth on its way to the shredder:  photo200Dad was affable enough about our rummaging through the house in search of mail and chucking it.  I guess he was hungry and wanted to see his pals at COTUD (Coffee Shop of the UnDead).

Yes, the Coffee Shop of the UnDead

(cue suspenseful music)

En route, we bumped into a man who was once our upstairs neighbor and our playmate 40 years ago.  His mother, who always seemed a lovely woman, still lives in Dad’s building and she is sick.  And he is taking care of her.  I wanted to think kind thoughts but he is a convicted pedophile.  He wanted to hug and kiss us all hello and I wanted to vomit.  I kept my distance.  I was so close to screaming and beating him about the head and face.

(Cue clip of Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order: SVU ‘cuffing him.)

He served some (not enough) time and was released.  As a citizen, I believe in a criminal justice system that gives convicts a second chance.  As a mother, I believe in the death penalty for pedophiles and other predators.

Sidebar:  Ain’t the old neighborhood great?  There are scary, bad secrets scattered all along the sun-soaked streets of the East Side.

I decided I didn’t need to remind my father of this former neighbor’s felonies.  I didn’t think Dad could process it.  There are some things Dad doesn’t need to remember.  I, of course, was thinking about castration.

We were late to COTUD.  I wondered if any of the regulars wondered whether Dad might be more than undead, as it were.

(cue suspenseful music)

No table for us.  It was bustling at COTUD.  But, because we are regulars and we don’t stay all afternoon, the management likes us.  So do the main waiters, Nick and Vassily.

Vassily asked an old woman with a walker to get up and move, so they could put tables together and accommodate us.  I was mortified.  I went over to the woman and apologized and thanked her.

(cue sadess about the indignities of being old in a fast-paced, youth obsessed world)

We saw Sam and his long-time companion, Norma, who were eating with Norma’s daughter and sons. We had never met Norma’s family.

(cue immediate suspicion)

It was good to see Norma out and about. She is frail.  As people grow older, their face lifts and other work seem so distorted against the natural aging (and sagging) of the rest of their bodies.   (Just a note to those who are considering “face work”.  Even her daughter’s face work could use a little — how do you say? — refreshment.)

Last time SOB saw Norma at the COTUD, they had a pleasant conversation, after which SOB overheard Norma say about Mom:

“Elsie was a special person.  It was the first time at a funeral that people used superlatives and they were true!”

(cue sigh and teary eyes)

Ok, so we love Norma.  And Sam.

Vassily didn’t even give us menus.  The only thing that needed to be said was “french fries, too”.

The fries came.  I offered them around.  Something was stuck to the underside of the plate.

It was gum. 

Peppermint gum. 

First, what cretin sticks gum on the underside of a plate and, second, what dishwasher doesn’t clean that?

And this place has an “A” health rating. 

(cue visions of the horror flicks like, ‘Wilbur,” about a killer rat.)

Ugh.  I scrubbed my hands raw in the less than Grade A bathroom.

Then Harvey came in.  He had to take a cab the 1.5 blocks from his apartment building to the diner because it was uphill and he has two canes.  (I saw him through the window.)

He took a table right next to us.  We greeted him warmly and asked about his wife and (now middle-aged) son.

Barbara, his wife, was at home.  “She has dementia and cysts on her legs.  But me, I turned 90 and I still work and drive!”

OMG. This is the second public menace we have met today.

I was worried about the driving thing but he can’t get in and out of a car without assistance, so I am pretty sure he doesn’t really drive.

He said to SOB, “you look great  — just the same — and still working hard, I am sure.”  He looked at me.  “You look different.”

Harvey, whom I never liked, was telling me I looked old.  I liked his wife, even with her screechy voice.  She was always making a jello mold.  She always had a bouffant “do”.  She perpetually lived in 1969.  Even in the 1990s, she brought jello molds to my parents’ Yom Kippur break fast.  By then, it was totally cool and retro.

By the end of lunch, SOB and I staggered out. Overwhelmed by the faint smell of peppermint.  Horrified at seeing the pedophile free among us.  Wistful about time gone by for Sam, Norma, Harvey, Barbara and Dad.

Dad, however, thought it was a fine time in the neighborhood.  And that is how it should be for Dad at 93.

ULOB

I had a wonderful, relaxing weekend.  No one else in my family did.

I was away and SOB wanted to protect me from the weekly crisis.

On Friday afternoon, ULOB was not answering his phone.  POULOB, panicked, called SOB.  SOB ran to ULOB’s fourth floor walk up in Hell’s Kitchen (where he lives in voluntary squalor).  She found him, half dead.  He had tripped on a cord and probably grabbed for the chair (with piles of stuff on it) and brought everything down on top of him.

SIDEBAR:  We had been begging him to use LifeAlert for so long.  But he is stubborn and independent.  You could buy him every gadget in the work and he won’t crack open the box, let alone wear it.  He doesn’t use an umbrella when it rains.  Why? “My father never did.”

ULOB had been lying there for quite a while (based on the level of dehydration).  Had SOB not gotten there when she did . . . .  Well, let’s just say that she found him in the nick of time.

SIDEBAR:  What a difference a day makes.  His friend Frank spoke to him on Thursday afternoon.  By Friday afternoon, his world had changed.  

SOB “unburied” him, got him water, and called an ambulance. She called BOB (who was in town, taking the Dad call) to meet her.  SOB rode in the ambulance.  BOB and POULOB came later.

Still, SOB did not call me.  She wanted me to have a fun weekend in Boston.  Even if she was left to deal with ULOB while the other adults were kicking back with cold ones.  Even holding back the the gross details of what happened to the urine-soaked pants, and ULOB’s aspiration of gross smoker’s phlegm.

Saturday afternoon, I turned my phone off after seeing my college friends.  I really wanted to disconnect a little.  What could happen in 12 hours?  Hell, I didn’t even know about the last 24 hours.

But during those 12 hours, when I went off the grid, that’s REALLY when SOB needed me.

ULOB worsened significantly as the pneumonia took hold and needed a ventilator.    Thank G-d for HOSOB who anchored SOB and kept ULOB entertained.

Sunday morning, the hotel phone woke me.  POB, who was having her own nightmarish weekend tending to her much-diminished and ornery father, called and said, “Call your sister.  It is not your Dad.”

I called SOB and got the download.  I hopped into my car and drove straight to the hospital.

When I arrived, ULOB was on the ventilator but he was alert, hungry and cranky.  In reasonable shape, all things considered.  We will take the future day by day.

Strong work, SOB.  From now on, I will sleep with my phone beside my ear.  I will never let you go through an episode like this again without me right next to you.

Seinfeld and the Gang — Part 3: The Love Hangover

Every generation has its sci-fi flick about hell having no fury like an artificially intelligent computer scorned.

And, because I am partial to women, my own personal horror flick would probably have a robot/computer who looks like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction (www.imdb.com/title/tt0093010/).

NOTE TO ALL:  I really do not spend much time thinking about this.  Really.  No, really!!

All I can say is welcome to our new family relationship with mini storage.  On Saturday, both my cousin and I engaged (grudgingly) in the ceremonial coma-signing of more paper than anyone could imagine for less than 100 square feet of real estate (even in New York).  On Tuesday (today), we were both sent TWO questionnaires about the quality of service and attention and our overall experience when renting the storage space.  I guess the computer really wants to feel the love.  Whoa.

SIBEBAR:  Maybe, my cousin, who is straight, would agree on my choice of Glenn Close.  Note to self: ask cousin about his ideal pyscho stalker.  P.S.: try not to freak him out by the question.

We exchanged ooked-out emails about the incredible attention paid to our mere rental, albeit on the NEW 9th floor of the facility.

SIDEBAR:  I am thinking about the movie adaptation:  trapped with the devil on a non-existent floor of an apartment building . . . maybe a twist on Rosemary’s Baby?  Paging Mia Farrow (even if you looked like a pre-adolescent boy in that movie and really DID marry Woody Allen).

I told my cousin that maybe he should have thought to send flowers and candy, because they know where we live.  He did not respond to that email.

SIDEBAR:  I am thinking that I don’t have to worry about whether or not I will freak him out.  I already have.

But, hey, I am still not as scary as a computer in need of love and affection.

 

Seinfeld Gang and me, Part II

Picking up from the prior blog entry:

SOB and I park the car and go to AROB’s house.  POB meets us there.  Our cousin and his wife are already packing things up.  This is a hoarder’s home.  Don’t look too closely.  POB had to leave in short order.

photo(6)

 

We box up anything and everything of value — sentimental or otherwise.  We load into the BIG F’ING rental car and we all drive down to the storage place.

SIDEBAR:  Did we ever determine whether I needed a trucker’s license and a tattoo?

I had two emails from Alan Dumpit, my reservation number and the memories of two inane conversations to poison my mood as soon as the guy behind the counter welcomed us, and wanted to understand our storage needs.

“I told this all to Alan Dumpit!”

“Why are you not smiling at me?  This is all good.  Alan isn’t here and I want to welcome you and make sure you are getting what you want.”

“I want a storage room big enough to store a one bedroom apartment equivalent of stuff.”  [Of course, if we were talking about all the stuff crammed into that apartment, then I would need a McMansion sized locker.]

“Who is renting the storage space?”

OMG.  SOB doesn’t understand why I am foaming at the mouth.  She doesn’t know the whole back story.  [Until she read it last night in the last blog entry.]

“I am, but it will be under my cousin’s name.”

“So, I should be talking to your cousin,” and, as he turns, I realize my poor cousin is a sitting duck, “Let’s discuss what your needs are . . . .”

After I watch my cousin endure the “creation of the storage relationship” phase for 30 minutes, I take pity and I interpose my credit card between the men and offer to move on to the paying ceremony.

photo(3)

Oh no no no no.  We had not begun the ceremonial paper signing phase of the new relationship.  That required two storage consultants to get the papers and involved initialing obscure provisions everywhere in the documents.  My cousin and I were not exactly robo-signing; I think we were more probably coma-signing. I was waiting for incense, holy water and Aaron’s priestly blessing.

And, of course it was a very, very special day because, we were told, it was the grand opening of the 9th floor of the building.  Still, no discount; instead, overpoweringly toxic paint smells and near-deafening drilling noise.

Finally, we were all initiated into the storage community, complete with the ceremonial handing over of the dead bolt.  I was, in fact, a little disappointed about the absence of incense, holy water and Aaron’s priestly blessing (especially since the latter is in this week’s Torah portion).

We ran to claim the dollies to haul the stuff. Or, rather, we ran FROM the storage consultants.  We unloaded the behemoth of a car and did a quite respectful send-up to Four Stooges and The Marx Brothers, as we dropped boxes, scraped the newly painted walls and drew a little blood from each of us.  The race to the elevators from different aisles was kind of fun, too.

Finally, the FAB FOUR put Aunt R’s valuables and effects in a safe (if toxic) place and closed that dead bolt, baby.  (SOB, photographer.)photo(2)Relief and laughter broke out as we got back into the BIG CAR, and I asked, “any other justice need dispensing? We have the car until tomorrow!”

To review:

  1. AROB was buried by two cornerstones of family (her chosen family and her family of origin) in a plot that will have her headstone.  CHECK
  2. ULOB’s rights, etc., are resolved.  CHECK
  3. AROB’s sister is being looked after and my cousin and his wife are rehabilitating the souls of a generation who neglected her.  CHECK
  4. Apartment to be given back to Landlord.  HALF CHECK  (some things need to happen still)
  5. My cousin needs his well-deserved, if surprising, inheritance.  OPEN

SOB and I will be there to help with the last points.

SIDEBAR:  But first, after this day, we needed some wine and hors d’oeuvres.

We will be there to help because our cousin and his wife are good and kind people who are generous with their time and concern.   And by helping AROB’s sister, they (who are not Jewish) are doing charity in AROB’s name as is Jewish custom.

And I think for SOB and me, through this excruciating process, we have accepted that AROB had flaws that recalibrate our views of her present but don’t tarnish our visions of her as a hero of our youth.  I know I have gone from harshly judgmental to willing to allow that there may facts I will never know that may be kinder to AROB’s choices.

This week, we will tackle Item 4.

Stay tuned.

 

The Seinfeld Gang and me, PART 1

SOB and I believe in sharing every heart-wrenching or morbidly humorous moment (sometimes all in one) of taking care of our elders.  If one of us has to handle an elder matter alone, it is recounted with every excruciating detail, so that the other commits the event to the collective memory.  Invariably, at some point in every vignette, SOB turns to me and says, “this was on Seinfeld.”

SIDEBAR:  I was never a fan of Seinfeld.  Now I know why.  I live it.

So, join us, won’t you on our excruciating journey on Saturday.  But first we need to start with a little back story.

BACK BACK STORY: Aunt R. is buried.  Her undead sister has been found, and our newly-found cousin and his wife, by their sheer gentle souls, have gotten the sister to speak after decades of silence.

The apartment is still a hoarder disaster.  The landlord is starting eviction proceedings. My ersatz cousin needs SOB and me to pull him out of the abyss, because it is dragging him down, and he is overwhelmed.

“[Cousin], on Saturday, we are taking the valuables to storage in the name of the estate and then you can give up the apartment.  SOB and I will cover the costs.”

“I can’t let you do that.  I can’t let you pay for the lawyers —-“

“[Cousin], [SOB] and I are committed to put all of AROB’s affairs in order.  You enabled us to bury her with dignity, you have looked out for ULOB’s interests, and you have rehabilitated the souls of that entire generation by visiting [undead sister] because, at long last, someone claimed her as family.  So, let me get the storage.  Really, this is easy.”

MORE RECENT BACK STORY:  I go online and reserve mini-storage locker big enough for the valuables. I receive a confirming email from “Alan Dumpit”.  You cannot make up his name.  Then Alan calls me to discuss storage conceptually and what I was hoping to gain from my storage experience.  No joke.  Because there can be no joking with a “storage consultant” named Dumpit.  It wouldn’t even be funny if his name were Storeit.  We went over everything I did on the website.  I thought that is why I chose the impersonal route of using a computer so that I could keep this a non-relationship.  No strings. I never wanted anonymity so much as in that conversation with Mr. Dumpit.

Then, he offered me something and, I hesitated, thinking this would cost something, but I realized that if I could throw a few more dollars at this conversation to end it, it was soooo worth it.

So, I get a second email confirmation from Al the Dumpster (we are close now).  Friday, I get a call from A the D just to make sure I was coming, as if maybe he would be waiting with flowers.  I expect this stuff from people at funeral homes, but mini-storage?

I was freaked out, but AROB’s apartment freaks me out more (you will see) so I resolved to have sedatives at hand on Saturday.

THE BIG DAY ARRIVES. (subtitled: SOB and Blogger dispense some justice, resolve some issues, all without delaying cocktail hour)

SOB and I meet at the Hertz Rent-a-Car near our apartments.  I have reserved a big SUV to haul the stuff to storage.

“I am sorry, we have no cars.  We were all out of cars by 9am.  That train wreck [MetroNorth tragedy] really messed up our inventory!  It’ll be 20 minutes.  Will a compact do?”

Waitwaitwaitwait.  I reserved a car.  A BIG car.  I am a Gold member (obviously a waste of money).  My reservation was backed by a credit card.  And my “customer service representative” gave away my car.  No apologies.  Nothing.

“Um, actually, I need a big car.  That is why I reserved an SUV.  Why did you give away my car?”

“I can’t really answer that, but allow me to provide you with excellent customer service in getting you another car.”

So many thoughts, some criminal, were playing bumper cars in my head.  I was speechless. I hear Quay (my alleged customer service representative) on the phone to another Hertz outlet, saying:

“The customer would like a big car.  Do you have one at your location?  Yes, she would like an upgrade.”

WAITWAITWAITWAIT.  Noooo, I don’t want an upgrade.  I want the car I reserved magically to appear before my eyes.

“We have a car for you at 40th Street and Second Avenue.  There will be a $75 upgrade fee.  But we will pay for your cab [later, I learned that doesn’t include the tip] to that location.”

“I don’t want to pay for an upgrade.  I have a reservation —–”

She interrupts, “Shall I add that amount to your bill and reserve the car for you?”

I had an epiphany.  Hertz employs genetically engineered pod people to act like flight attendants in economy class.  I snap.  But SOB takes control of the situation and calms me down (threatening in-patient treatment at the psychiatric ward of a local hospital) and redirects the conversation to a more fruitful, if more costly, conclusion.

We did get a BIG F’ING CAR.  We city dwellers do not drive these behemoths.  I wasn’t sure whether I needed a trucker’s license and a tattoo.  If I were in a highway rest stop, would I go in the car lot or the truck lot?

 

photo(7)SOB and me.  I’m driving wild and crazy and she is riding shot gun.  We drive past where HOSOB is having lunch with Dad.   I cross several lanes of traffic so SOB could take a picture of them through the window of the coffee shop and send it to everyone’s smart phones.  We are the law.  The city was never sooooo dangerous.

TO BE CONTINUED