June 18th, 2013, today was a trying day. The kind of day which begins pleasantly enough, waking up to the wonderful morning shrilling sounds of leaf blowers, 6am lawnmowers, LA traffic, a plethora of garbage trucks backing up all over the city, and which ends with blind furious murder pushing to explode out of your red-rimmed eyes. Yesterday I worked, and I was thankful to do so, but I worked an earlier shift which meant I had to concentrate all necessary chores for today. Last night I made a list of what I needed to do, arranged the chores so that I could seamlessly and fluidly go from one chore to another according to distance, route, and right turns, then went to bed satisfied and feeling accomplished and ready to get everything done in the morning. I woke up to dogs barking and cars honking and an ambulance wailing down my street. By the time I got ready the landscapers were in full force and adding to the morning cacophony. I was ready and invigorated and in a great mood.
My list if chores were fairly commonplace. They consisted in the order of:
1. Getting my smog test done on my truck so that I could get my registration sticker
2. Picking up my dry cleaning
3. Dropping off bills at the post office (including my car registration fee)
4. Picking up my prescription medication at the pharmacy
5. Stopping at Staples and getting ink toner and office supplies
6. Going to the bank
7. Stopping at the hardware store and getting a copy of a key
8. Getting some food to take home
9. Getting home and calling my parents before 3pm in the afternoon in Tennessee
Simple enough and planned out, I planned on leaving at 8:30am. I planned on being back home by 12noon so that I could eat lunch and call my parents by their 3pm. Before I left I called the pharmacy to make sure they had my prescription filled and ready. The pharmacy tech assured me my prescription was ready and filled and then I told her to put the medication by their drive-through window since I planned on not getting out of the car. She said great! And then I left the house exactly at 8:22am.
No June gloom in the valley, temperatures were in the high 90’s even this early in the morning. The air felt like Hades was regaling us with left over refried rotten bean smog stink wafting directly out of his ass. My truck has no Freon to work the A/C so I just have to suffer the heat.
The first smog station I went to had the state inspector calibrating the smog testing machine. I asked how long the calibration would take, the owner of the station said 15 minutes no problem, here have some coffee. Coffee sounded good so I sat down to wait. I was first in the queue that early in the morning so I didn’t mind. 15 minutes pass. 30 minutes pass. An older elegant lady comes in to get her car tested. She asks how long and the owner says 15 minutes no problem. The lady sits right next to me even though three other rows of chairs are available. She begins a conversation about birds and the Audubon Society. Ok, she’s pleasant, educated, I don’t mind talking to her.
Then a younger girl comes in and with a frown asks how long is the wait. The owner said 15 minutes no problem and offers her coffee. She sits down across from us. She has jean shorts on and a weird tattoo visible on her thigh. I can’t figure out her tattoo. What the hell is it? Is it an octopus holding microphones? No. The octopus is holding round headshots of babies. Does the tattoo represent Octomom or something? She notices me looking at her tattoo and frowns and then gets up and moves to the other side of the older lady. Now if I look at her I have to crane my neck completely to the left and lean forward. Fuck her and her shitty tattoo.
A lady comes in speaking Tagalog into a phone and trailing four kids of various ages. She asks how long is the wait. The owner says 15 minutes no problem. Over an hour has passed by since I first sat down to wait. The Filipino lady is smart and hightails out of there. 15 minutes pass. 30 minutes pass. I am about sick of hearing about California finches and New Caledonian crows who can make hooks with their beaks and carrier pigeons and endangered Condors. The owner of the garage comes over and apologetically tells us that his smog testing machine cannot be calibrated so he can’t make any smog tests today. Then he tells us where the next nearest smog station is located.
Because I was the first to park and parked closest to the garage now I am the last to leave the parking lot. I get to the other smog station and the place is full. Not only am I last in the queue behind the Bird Lady and Bad Tattoo but Filipino Mother is there with her brood as well as a guy with a Stalin mustache. What can I do? I need a STAR smog check because my truck is over 10 years old. I have no idea where another STAR smog testing is located. I decide to wait but this garage is smaller and I have to sit next to the Filipino kids. I get another cup of coffee, I set it down, the kids immediately knock against the table and the full cup of coffee dumps into my lap. Ok. I go to the bathroom to clean up, I come back and now there is nowhere left to sit because more customers are showing up. Fuck this noise, I decide to go wait in my oven hot truck parked in the sun until my turn comes up.
What I thought I was going to pay at the first smog testing station: $39.99 plus tax
What I ended up paying at the second smog testing station: $65 with tax.
Time I entered first smog testing station: 8:45am
Time I left the second smog testing station: 11:15am
Now I am severely behind schedule and bothered so I go to the dry cleaners to pick up two shirts, two jackets, two ties, and a pair of suit pants. When I get there and present my ticket the lady exclaims, “oh we tried calling you yesterday! We could not clean one of the jackets because the pocket was ripped!” I was like “did you leave a message?” She said, “We left several messages.” I look at my phone. No messages. No texts. Nothing. I show her my phone. She gets upset. “I left messages yesterday and this morning.” I repeated, “I did not get any messages.” She said, “I called this number, XXX-XXX-XYZX.” I say, “that is the wrong number, this is the correct number.” Basically she transposed the Y and the Z numbers of my phone. But she says, “YOU gave me the wrong number.” I am like, “Why would I do that? You think I don‘t know my own number?” She says, “Don’t raise your voice at me” which is a tactic that immediately makes me want to begin kicking kittens.
I take a deep breath. Ok, which jacket is ripped? Of course the jacket that did not get dry cleaned is my black jacket, the only piece of clothing I actually needed clean. I look at the “rip” and the tear in the inner breast jacket pocket is miniscule. In fact, the tear is so small I can’t even put a finger through it. I say, “so this little tear prevented you from cleaning the jacket?” She said, “the tear would get bigger, we could have cleaned it but we needed to know what you wanted to do” which sounds reasonable enough if the tear wasn’t 3 millimeters long with two little threads sticking out. I am pretty sure the tear happened because I jammed the end of a pen in the pocket, just to illustrate the smallness of the hole. “What do you want to do?” the lady asks. “I’m going to burn this jacket because this itty bitty puncture is giving me a migraine and then I am going to buy a brand new jacket with all the pockets intact and in full working condition.” The lady nodded her head as if my snarky remark was actually a good idea.
Cost of dry cleaning minus the only piece I actually needed clean: $23.65
The post office run was uneventful. But I have to mention the fact that I am compelled to drop off all my mail at the post office because the outgoing mail in my building is not secure. My Netflix movies got stolen enough and to the point that Netflix accused me of lying. I finally had to give up the service. This was back when Netflix was only available through the mail. A few years ago some guys got caught stealing mail directly from a mail delivery truck. My phone bill was amongst the pieces of mail stolen and I had no idea until a state official from an agency called “Victim Services” notified me. So ever since then I feel like I have to drop all my mail at the post office for peace of mind.
I wait behind several cars at the drive through window. When my turn comes up, the pharmacy tech can’t find my prescription. She tells me to pull up and park and come into the store. I reminded her that I called at 8:20 in the morning and not only verified the prescription had been filled but I also asked to have the medication ready for pickup near the cash register of the drive through window. Doesn’t matter, she can’t find my prescription so I can either leave and come back later or park and come into the store. Oh wait, here is the problem, “your medication just came in this morning so your prescription has not been filled yet!” Which one is it? Did you misplace my prescription and can’t find it or did you not fill it when I confirmed you did fill it at 8:20 in the morning? “We haven’t filled your prescription yet. This will take us at least 15 minutes, do you mind parking?” “So somebody LIED to me this morning?” “Can you please park or move your car so we can take care of the next customer?”
I park and go inside the pharmacy. The line inside is longer than the line outside. In fact, I wait in line about 25 minutes. When I get to the window, the prescription is still not filled and ready. I have to sit down and wait or I could leave and come back later. “Can you fill my order next since I am the person who was lied to at 8 in the morning.” The girl throws up her hands and calls a pharmacist through the PA. I take a seat and wait.
The pharmacist comes in from a back room and I notice a security guard appears near the end of an aisle. I look at the pharmacist’s name and his name is something like DJ Cuong. The DJ part is written in with a sharpie. He asks me what is “the problem.” When I stand up to talk to him because he was sort of lording over me a little too close, the security guard walks over hurriedly. I explained how somebody lied to me that morning and how I had to park and come into the store and how I’ve been waiting now for over an hour for a prescription which I confirmed was filled and ready at 8 in the morning. The pharmacist said that he didn‘t think my story was accurate. I countered by asking if his phone system kept a record of incoming calls. DJ Cuong then got mad and said that he would help me “only this one time.“ Then he left and got my medicine but the security guard hung around the whole time as if I was a danger.
Cost of the medicine: I am not saying. But I was at the pharmacy for over 90 minutes for a prescription run I thought I could take care through their drive up window in 5 minutes or less.
While I was waiting in line at the pharmacy, I was able to call and talk sporadically with my parents. The call was fine except the service inside the pharmacy kept dropping out every other minute. I was unable to talk to my parents for very long.
Traffic and road construction now in my way. Also a truck tried making a u-turn in a busy intersection and ended up wedged inside a corner bus stop booth. Since the intersection was completely blocked off then traffic was redirected another mile down side streets in order to be able to cross under the freeway. Then if we wanted to get to our original destination we had to double back in slow traffic through extra lights in rush hour traffic. I lost 35 minutes between the pharmacy and Staples when the distance should have been only 5 minutes. Did I mention I have no working A/C in my truck?
At Staples they were out of my ink toner so my main reason for going was wasted. I was able to get other supplies. When I got to the check-out, I could get behind two counters. They both had lines of about the same length. I chose one, wait in line, and when my turn comes up, my debit card doesn’t work. The machine will not take the swipe. Ok. Try my credit card. The swipe doesn’t work. I try all my credit cards in sequence. None of them work. The cashier girl: “All your cards are demagnetized.” Me: “I don’t think so, I just used my debit card at [pharmacy].” Cashier: (laughing at me) “Yup, all your cards got demagnetized.” Me: (pissed) “You want to put money on the fact my cards are fine and that your machine is crap and not working? Why don‘t you try putting in the card number manually?” Cashier: (no longer laughing) “Umm, let me call a manager.”
Manager comes over and checks the machine. He tests the machine with a card he has hanging around his neck on a lanyard. “I’m sorry, this machine doesn’t seem to be working, would you like to pay in cash?” Me: (terse) “No.” Manager: “I’m sorry, you’ll have go over to the other cashier.” I look. Everybody that had been in my line is now over in the other line. Me: “Do I have to wait in that line or can you open another cashier so I can get out of here, I am in a bit of a hurry.” Manager: “I’m sorry, I can’t open another cashier at this time, I’m sure you won’t have to wait long in that line.” I leave my shit on the counter and walk out. I only really needed the toner and that was sold out.
I’m fuming. Why did the cashier not put in my card number manually? Why did the manager want me to wait behind a bunch of other people in line when I was next in line? I get to the bank, ready to get out some cash money! Their parking lot is closed off. Looks like they just repaved the parking lot so they closed it off. I drive around the bank. Not a parking spot in sight. Some restaurants next to the bank have spaces open but those spaces are for restaurant patrons only. I drive around all side streets. No parking. I am about to cry from frustration. I really don’t want to drive another 5 miles out of my way to go to a different branch. I still need to go to the hardware store, get something to eat, go home, I’m almost done, having to go to another branch of this bank and doubling back is just too inconvenient at the moment. And I feel like punching something.
I have to park about a half mile away, across a four lane highway, on an incline with the back of my truck sticking into the red zone of the curb. Fuck it, I’m risking the ticket. The only good thing is that the hardware store is equidistant the other way from my parking spot. I walk to the bank, I walk to the first ATM, “this ATM is out of service.” The next ATM- out of service. What is going on today? All the Greek gods hate me or something. I walk inside the bank, long ass line, just my luck. One more ATM on the other side of the bank, ok lets try that one. I get to that one, the ATM works but the machine is not dispensing receipts. Fine. I can live without the receipt.
Things are looking up. I got cash money. I walk to the hardware store, hardly anybody inside. I give the guy the key I want copied, he says, “right away sir,” copies the key in about 3 minutes, returns both keys, cost: $1.75. Ok, now I’m paranoid. This was too easy. I’m looking around nervous. I gingerly grab the keys and pay and then I stand there dumbfounded. The hardware guy is like, “anything else?” I shake my head no. “Are you ok?” I nod my head yes. The guy is looking at me like I am having an out of body experience, which I think I am.
I get to my truck, no ticket. Ok, I’m still in some kind of existential haze. I decide against picking up food, I don’t want to jinx this slow cloud of still oxygen encircling me. I have soup at home, pasta, I think to myself go home while you’re ahead of the game, before some more bullshit falls from the sky on top of your head.
I have a friend, his name is Nick. Nick told me one day, you know, you are always whining about how badly people treat you in Los Angeles, about how people are rude to you. But have you ever stopped to wonder, Nick said, have you ever stopped to wonder if maybe the problem is you and not them? Have you considered that maybe the problem is not them at all but something you are doing or saying making them react in such a way to you?
Yes Nick, I thought about that briefly, over the course of a few days after you said such an asinine thing to me, and I came to the conclusive and unequivocal conviction that the problem is entirely other people. Idiotic people who can’t be counted upon to do the job they were hired to do, people who have no social skills or a bad attitude, who say rude things not expecting any type of response because they count on your good manners to stay quiet. People who can’t drive, can’t make a simple u-turn. People who are just too bothered to do their jobs. People who can’t handle life at the moment. The problem is rudeness in all kinds of forms, cutting in front of you in line, talking your ear off about specious subjects. People who can’t be trusted to write down a 10 digit phone number correctly. People who lie for no goddamn reason at all, who waste your time with a lie, put you in a situation where you could get beat up or arrested because of their stupid lie. Mothers who can’t control their children. Douchebags who will not shut up their barking dogs at six in the morning. Assholes who steal your mail.
So Nick, I am not the problem. I’m affected by the problem. And the problem is the overwhelming stupidity directed at me in tidal waves every day of this fatuous existence in this sewage of a city. Every once in a while I encounter somebody who cares enough to do their job correctly, graciously, with a smile on their face, with warmth and concern, such as a regular Joe simply working in a hardware store.
When I got home and tested the new key in the lock, the key didn’t fit, the key wouldn’t work, they new key could not open the lock. Motherfucker!