I Do Not KNow How People Have Lives and Jobs at The Same Time

In the past several weeks, I have had any number of high-end life problems.

You know, the ordinary, everyday sorts of buggeries that bedevil us when we are not surviving a tropical tragedy or waiting for chemo and radiation.

Item: My iMac was confounding me with strange messages and awful slowness.
Item: My internet was downloading as if I were using a phone modem in 1995.
Item: My Magic-Jack was working 10% of the time. The other 90% of the time callers could not hear us or we could not hear them.
Item: Someone in Italy was renting a car with the credit card I used last August in Florence.

What happens in cases such as this is very simple: We dial the support numbers. (Note to ATT: Your On-Hold Muzak is the worst and may be losing you cash money. Porn flicks spend more on their music and it sounds better too. Oh, and when the tape loop gets to the end it stops, making the caller think the technician is picking up. Hundreds of times.)

(Note to MAGIC-JACK: Your on-screen live chat works fine until you almost get to some sort of solution when it dumps your customers who then recommence again and again—not a redundant grammar error, let me tell you.)

Love the CitiBank people: they are in the business of not losing money (theirs and then yours) and they are responsive with lightspeed when you are helping them stop fraud.

I bypassed the Geniuses at APPLE and went straight to a local independent contractor and he fixed my problems quickly and well. Support your local contractors.

I have not enumerated these ills to enlist your pity. it is you I am feeling sorry for. What do you do when these devils occupy your world? You have things to do all day. Kids with running noses and adolescents who wander around dripping sarcasm, arbitrageurs looking to downsize you to a 1962 VW Beetle. Your time is not your own.

BUT: I can stay on hold forever…well, until I die.

So, let me tell you two things: 1) Retirement is great because you can spend your time doing really dumb things without turning into a serial killer. 2) Your lives are really hard and I feel your pain. Well, actually, I felt your pain for 43 years or so. I don’t feel it so much today. Time is really a valuable commodity. Enjoy it.

Oh, andBTW: I wrote this during the 35 minutes I have been on hold at ATT’s “help” line. The recording said it would be 10 minutes. Bwahahahhahahaah!

My Parents Taught Me Some Weird Shite

I am not sure whether Mom and Dad thought about what they were doing all the time. Theirs was not a generation much given to self-reflection and certainly not to self-criticism in front of the children…or anyone else so far as I know. (In truth my Mother died without ever having said, “If I made mistakes I am sorry.”)

One of the many odd things (odd now, but “normal” when I was a child) they taught me was that we were better than most people. Better socially, economically and, well, just better, ya’ know?  We were in The New York Social Register and few of the other kids at Lloyd Harbor School were… so far as I knew.  I accepted without questioning the simple concept that we were just better according to the system which my folks were using.  It didn’t change who my best friends were… Phil, Jimmy, et alia. In fact I felt a little bit queasy about it because I was, like most ten year olds, anxious just to be like everyone else, not better or worse.

Fat Chance.

We had never lived anywhere longer than a couple of years and were now sitting on the North Shore of Long Island (The North Shore was Better than the South Shore) and there was no way this kid from New Orleans was going to be like everyone else, especially knowing that there were scads of better  folks “better” than we were!  (Once you get on the “Better” train you must learn to accept that there are people who think you are worse than they are. Perfect example: People who lived in Laurel Hollow were Better than people who lived on Lloyd Neck except for Marshall Field, but he had made his money running a department store so that was not really better, just richer.)  Life was clearly constructed on this gigantic spiderweb of ever-higher-and-lower things and if you weren’t hip to the hierarchies, you’d wind up less better than everyone else and a major Loser. Just die of shame and have done with it.

So many rules, accepted but rarely spoken of aloud. Just learn to accept the pecking order and you’ll be fine. If you are even vaguely neurotic, you quickly get the hang of the multitudinous hierarchies. (Bear in mind that not everyone except your parents and their friends agreed on which was correct.) For another example, Golf was “tackier” than tennis and therefore tennis was better than golf. (Bet you had no clue. And I doubt Bill’s parents would have agreed.  It is not significant that neither of my parents had ever played tennis or golf.) French was better than Spanish because Spain was tackier than France. Italy, well, forget about it. People who didn’t drink cocktails were boring. Only alcoholics drank before 6PM except on weekends and holidays when you could drink at noon, unless you were on a yacht whereupon you might drink an India Pale Ale before noon or at a resort where you might have a Champagne with a bit of orange juice.

My parents never sat us down and taught us these things and there were no mimeographed hand-outs to memorize, but these were the zany TRUTHS that were given at the breast, on the porch at night, in the warp and woof of daily existence. I am sure my parents learned them the same way…an offhand comment, a laugh at someone else’s expense, a sarcastic comment at just the moment juste.

I took years to 1) realize I had been taught these things, 2) realize that they were totally whack and 3) that kids learn things we don’t even realize they are learning.

Next time maybe I’ll dig a bit deeper and tell you what being raised in the deep South in 1940+ was like vis-a-vis Reconstruction redux.

I hope I live long enough to educate myself back to before I learned all the weird shite.