I’m Gonna Blame It On The Heat

On the hottest day Los Angeles has experienced in a looooong time, I ventured into the triple-digit heat yesterday afternoon with three errands to run: the Hollywood Bowl, to exchange tickets for that night’s performance since Susan is out of town helping out with matters in the wake of her uncle’s death last weekend; the New World Camping store, to exchange the fishing rod we’d bought the weekend before, which snapped our very first time out with it last Sunday; and a recommended body shop to get another estimate for the bumper damage to the Ford that I caused rolling into an unseen boulder on the side of the east fork of the San Gabriel River during our aforementioned fishing day trip.

I took the leap this year and became a subscriber this season, meaning I purchased a package of four performances within the Bowl’s jazz series. Susan and I have enjoyed Bobby McFerrin and Chris Botti, Robert Cray, and the Buena Vista Social Club Orchestra among other acts on the first three Wednesday nights we attended. Last night’s was headlined by Quincy Jones and promised to be excellent, but I called up the Bowl yesterday to tell them I couldn’t attend and ask what my options might be. I was advised to take advantage of its ticket exchange policy, a subscriber benefit, by going to the box office.

Allow me to note ahead of time that during the call I was not informed of any service fee involved in swapping tix on the same day of the event. Had I been I would’ve gone Tuesday, not yesterday.

So I arrive at the Bowl and walk up to a representative at one of the windows. The markedly effeminate young man with scruffy facial hair behind the thick glass asks through the speaker and how he can help me. I tell him while sliding the tickets through the window. He looks at them and tells me that there will be a $10 per ticket charge to complete the exchange. Surprised by that I ask why and he tells me that’s the standard fee for any exchanges made on the day of an event.

“How disappointing that wasn’t mentioned to me when I called yesterday because I could’ve come yesterday and avoided being penalized.”

At this point the young man adopts a decidedly defensive demeanor and unhelpful tone, asking “Who did you call?”

“The Hollywood Bowl.”

“What number?”

“The number on the back of my subscriber ID card.”

He pauses and regroups before plastering a simpering grin onto his mug and launching into a pointedly condescending spiel that he’s obviously practiced a lot about how a comprehensive subscriber information manual was provided with my ticket package and in it is clearly stated that any tickets exchanged on the day of an event are subject to a $10 service charge.

I consider telling him where he can stuff that detailed document, but instead I ask “What page?”

That catches him off guard and the simpering smile falls off his face as he realizes there is actually something he does not know.

I bridge his moment of horror with “Look, had I known there was going to be an exam I’d have studied your hallowed manual and committed it to memory. My issue isn’t whether or not there’s a fee. My issue is with the representative I spoke with Tuesday when I called and said I can’t attend Wednesday’s event who could’ve mentioned that but didn’t. As I mentioned earlier, had that courtesy been extended I would’ve come yesterday and avoided this BS.

Over-dramatically taken aback at my use of the acronym for “bullshit,” the young man sat up straight and said he thought it was entirely unfair of me to expect such consideration.

Now I’m the one taken aback. “Reeeeeeally. Well then I’ll go you one further: Both the person I spoke with on the phone and you turn the term “customer service” into an oxymoron.

And with that he ceremoniously stripped off his headset, slammed it down on the counter while jumping up off his chair and flitted off in full hissyfit out of sight, replaced a few moments later by another rep who eyed me warily upon approach.

“Don’t be afraid,” I said. “I’m not as bad as your thin-skinned predecessor would have you believe.”

Taking a seat he asked what the issue was. So I gave him the quick recap.

All business and no bull, when I’d finished he asked, “So where do we go from here?”

I give it a shot: “Well, since I’m guessing you’ll be able to resell these and make my $20 almost two times over is there any way you can have mercy on this first-time subscriber and waive the fee?”

His mouth moved into a smile, but not his eyes as he looked from me to the tickets. “You’re right, these are decent seats someone will probably purchase, but I’m afraid I still can’t waive the charge.”

“Then let’s get on with it.”

And in a few more minutes the Bowl had 20 of my dollars (plus another $12 for the $6-per face-value increase between the two performances), and I was signing a receipt with an intense feeling that the Hollywood Bowl will not see another dollar from me as a subscriber ever again.

Sliding the tickets to me the man asked if he could be of any additional service.

“Well, yes. Do me a favor and apologize for me to the young lady I scared off. I didn’t mean for my frustration to compound the obvious bad day she was having.”

Somewhere out of sight from within came: “Oh that bitch!”

Turning I said “That’s 100% bastard,” and walked away.

From that joyful experience I headed down to New World Camping on Western Avenue in Koreatown with the broken fishing rod we purchased from the place the weekend before last. Walking in with it I found the same man who sold us the defective pole and just from his demeanor as I approached him I had the sinking feeling an exchange wasn’t going to be easy.

And it wasn’t. I told him what happened and he looked at the pole. Instead of doing the honorable thing and giving me a replacement, he starts right in with how it will cost me $15.

I ask why and he tells me because that’s how much it will cost him to return the rod to the manufacturer.

“But why is that my responsibility?” And he launches into a tirade about customers who are chronic pole breakers/returners.

“But I’m not one of them!”

“I know, I know,” he said. But still he wouldn’t budge. It was $15 or fuck off.

I attempted to reason with him, by pointing out how medievally unethical such a return policy was when compared to other retailers, to which he exclaimed, “This is not Costco!”

“So there’s no way you’re going to replace this item unless I pay you more money for it.”

“That’s right.”

“Then enjoy that piece of crap and the $29 I paid for it, but I’m not giving you another penny now or ever.” And I walked out wondering if I had a “Give This Guy A Hard Time” sticker stuck to my forehead while vowing to make it cost this jerk more than the fifteen bucks he was unsuccessful in extorting from me.

And it will, eventually: When I got home I posted the following description of the disgusting encounter on all sorts of review sites: Yelp, Super Pages, Yellow Pages, Insider Pages, Chamber of Commerce and several others (even the store’s Facebook page where I wrote a recommendation which began “I recommend you avoid this place.”):

I purchased a $29 rod August 28, 2011 from New World Camping, and used it for the first time a week later September 4 (mainly to practice casting in the San Gabriel river). During that outing, a foot of the rod snapped off at the tip. I returned September 7 with the defective rod to make a simple exchange but the proprietor refused to do so unless I paid him $15 to cover what he said would be the cost for him to return the rod to the manufacturer. I attempted to reason with him, but he refused to listen so I told him to enjoy the broken rod and the money I’d spent on it initially but that I wouldn’t spend any more — and certainly not at a business with such an unscrupulous regard for its customers.

As to the body shop visit that was also planned, I decided not to risk enduring a third battle and instead headed home with plans to return today. I’ll be going there in a few minutes with fingers crossed that I’ve broken the streak at two.






Nine years ago today…

Here at the Holiday Inn parking lot in Woodland Hills, Calif., on this Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 11, 2001, I am surrounded by all sorts of people: fat, thin, black, white, men, women, young, old. Tattoos stand next to buttondowns who stand next to piercings who stand next to T-shirts who stand next to neckties. Cell phones ring incessantly as wingtips line up behind sneakers, behind sandals, behind work boots, behind flip-flops. The gathered are a cross section of our culture. They are America.

These people are here for the same reason as I am: to do something, to help. Yet in their overwhelming desire to be a part of a resolution, they have deluged the American Red Cross mobile blood donation facility that has been set up here and the result is a long, long wait. An hour, two. More perhaps. Through it they mingle, they mill, they talk, they laugh, they fidget, they cry, they stare, they hug, they play. Some leave. Most stay.

Read the rest here.

What The…!?

Not sure what at all’s going on with the sudden and surprise change from my blog’s long-standing theme to this default version that I discovered this morning when I opened up my browser.

It’s through nothing I did and other than contact my webhost I’m at a loss as to how to fix it.

So here’s hoping Dreamhost can figure it out before I go crazy from the bland derivativeness and do something to break it further.

UPDATE (2:32 p.m.): Well, my original theme is back. Yay. Somehow, unbeknownst to myself nor my webhosters it got deactivated so after much fretting, I clicked the “activate” link and everything seems back to how it once was. I hope.

Threat Successfully Diffused Defused

I’m southbound on La Brea, pedaling in the curb lane. There’s a parked car between me and Wilshire Boulevard so I work my way to the left edge of the lane and as I get there a sedan in the center lane passes me and I see there are four males in it — all of them wearing identical redshirts. Maybe they’re carpooling to work or a job site. Or a parole hearing.

The light at Wilshire is red and as they come to a stop in their lane I pass them noting both front and rear passenger-side windows are down as I come a stop in mine. At the green I get going across the intersection and by the time I get to 8th Street they’ve pulled abreast of me and slowed slightly and I’m getting a sense something’s up. Keeping my focus ahead of me I brace for anything from a “Get off the fucking road!” to having something thrown at me, but nothing happens until the driver hits the gas and the four bust out loudly laughing and they pull ahead. Then the passenger riding shotgun sticks his arm out the window with his fingers splayed wide yells out “Honk!” a couple of times as he makes ass-squeezing gestures with his hand.

One might argue that perhaps it wasn’t about me. That maybe I wasn’t the subject of their moronic attentions. I’d counter that given the arm’s-length proximity of my rock-hard gluts to their soft-serve intellects, it’s hard to imagine the display being meant for anyone else but me. Either way, I smile at the buffoonery, mostly in relief that that’s all there was to the encounter.

But that’s not all there was.

Continue reading Threat Successfully Diffused Defused

Mourning Has Broken

Literally no sooner had my reminiscing post recalling the day I “met” Farrah Fawcett gone live at L.A. Metblogs when news started trickling in about Michael Jackson.

To say goodbye to one adored icon of my youth — in essence my Marilyn Monroe — was tough enough. But on the same day for a cherished voice and monumental talent that has been a part of my e n t i r e life to be silenced so suddenly and so shockingly…

Let’s just say I am very much in mourning right now. Very much.

God Won’t Let Me Have Nice Things

Today was an odd day. I took it off from work because Susan and I had planned a “summit” with the architect and contractor regarding our upstairs disrenappovationtment (aka the $62,000 bath tub) — and that actually concluded quicker than I’d figured and more importantly on a positive with some hope that with a redesign we can get everything we want into the existing dormer space without having to rebuild the back half of the house and reinforce it down to the earth’s core.

So afterwards in addtition to the errands I planned to run, I decided since it was Thursday and the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles has free mid-day organ recitals (that I’ve been wanting to attend for a long time) I’d go check that out as well.

So I biked down there and grabbed a mid-section pew seat all to myself. Marveling at the church’s exquisitely gothic interior I snapped some pix with my ever-present digital cam. Another gadget I brought with me to try out for the first time was my new Sony digital stereo audio recorder, purchased a couple days earlier. I figured this would be a great environment and the church’s organ — an instrument they tout as one of the largest in the world — would be a great subject to record.

So when organist S. Wayne Foster stepped out and introduced himself I hit the record button, propped it on top of a the pew in front of me, and sat back to enjoy the show, which was marvelous. Forty minutes later it was over and I left the tape recorder where it was along with my backpack and bike helmet on the pew and got up to snaps some pix.

Before you say “STOOPID,” I agree with you. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t just pack up my stuff and carry it with me while I snapped, but I didn’t. And if you’ll be so kind, allow me my rationalizations.  There were maybe 50 people in the audience with me and more to the point: I was in a fucking CHURCH. Though shalt not steal: HELLO!?

Here’s the first kicker. After I finish taking my shots. I come back, grab my pack and  helmet and walk out, buying a CD and making a little small talk with the administrator on my way out the door. As I was the last one to leave, almost immediately thereafter the administrator swings the big bronze doors shut and not more than 5 seconds after that it dawns on me: I’ve left my recorder inside. So I bang on the bronze door but there’s no answer. Fortunately I find an open door into the smaller chapel next door, work my way behind that altar and out the back into a courtyard where I find an unlocked door and get back into the main sanctuary. There I find a person and apologize telling them I left something where I’d sat for the concert. She tells me to go ahead and look.

I do. It’s not there.

I search my bag wondering if I’d gone crazy and put it in there without being aware, but I didn’t. Then I ask the lady if there’s a lost and found that someone might have turned it in to and I follow her to the office of the administrator I’d bought the CD from and tell him what happened. He’s polite and friendly but pretty much all he can do is shrug and take my name and number in case it turns up. I thank him and leave.

I get outside where I’m flummoxed and frustro-angry. I can’t believe some fucking sinner just pilf’d my recorder. I guess I should be grateful the straight-to-hell goer was kind enough to leave my backpack and helmet alone.

Here’s the second kicker.  Upon getting home and uploading the pix I took, I’ll be damned if there aren’t three images taken at 12:52, 12:54 and 12:59 p.m., respectively — the first two show a shiny little silvery something which is my recorder propped up against the top of the pew and in the third one, it’s gone.

See for yourself. I’ve added an arrow in the first two, indicating the recorder’s location (the thumbnails are clickable for biggification). What’s notable also about the middle image is that the thief, is more than likely one of those people.

1 2 3

And the rest of the errand run didn’t get much better. I broke an ATM with four people in line behind me. Well, I didn’t really break it, but it took a minute of whirring and clicking to figure out it couldn’t give me $40 and then shut down, pissing everyone off. Then at Home Depot because they don’t have bike racks, I had to lock-up to a lamp post and the bike slipped as I was unlocking it and the seat tube skittered against some concrete, bringin about a six-inch scratch in the paint. Dammit.

Just one of those fucking days I guess.

We All Have Our Weaknesses

Some have the strength to admit theirs. In my case I don’t have the filter to keep mine quiet… at least not this one.

Yesterday it was Twizzlers, though it was not a craving that came out of nowhere. A couple previous weeks ago I’d snacked on some and since then I’ve inexplicably and irrationally wanted more. Not continuously… just now and then my brain would think TWIZZLERS followed by MUSTHAVEWANTNOW!

I fought it for awhile, but the urge arose and overcame me on my ride in to work yesterday morning and I stopped at the CVS closest to the office where I soon found myself in a debate of simple comparative values. A five-ounce package was $1.59, but I knew one wouldn’t be enough, so I picked up two and was about to leave when I saw that a two-pound jumbo package was only $2.69.

You don’t have to be a math whiz to figure out that 10 ounces for $3.19 just doesn’t make any sense when 32 ounces of the same product are 50 cents less.

Of course, I’d just have a handful and then put the remainder in the break room for my coworkers because there was no way I’d nom-nom two freaking pounds of all that artifically flavored crap in one day, right?

Oh soooooo wrong. So sadly wrong.

It was like a flash addiction from the minute I opened the bag and the waxy freshness wafted out. I ate two. Then two more. Then two more. Then two more after that. By noon, more than half the bag was gone and I was feeling as guilty as I was ill, and managed to stop.

For awhile.

Then at 5 p.m. I snuck a peak at the bad inside the drawer I put it in. And then came the moment of surrender. That “Well, I might as well…” rationalization, in which finishing off the bag and ending the torment was better than leaving it to taunt.

And so I did.

I Killed that bag.

All two pounds of whatever it is that Twizzlers are made of: Red dye. Rubberbands. Plastic. Sugar. Wax. Motor oil. Self-Loathing. Modeling clay. Hand sanitizer. Elmer’s Glue. Horse hooves. Coltan. Baby tears. Liquid Paper. Newt Gingrich. Unrequited love. Bath water. Nuclear fallout.

And all of it sat in my stomach and my stomach was like “WTF!?!! I’m gonna have to let this sit here awhile until I can get a jackhammer and some Liquid Plumber to break this mess down. Just you wait until your colon finds out about this.”

Needless to say the bike ride home, pregnant with the stuff, was a unique experience.

And really needless to say: I fear when my colon does find out it’ll stamp it “Return To Sender.”