Trapped

Beau and I are about to be stranded in Phoenix.

Our overnight flight from Honolulu to Phoenix is still a go, but our second leg, from PHX to BWI, has been shut down by U.S. Airways. (Yes, I said I’d never fly them again, but I’m a cheapskate and they had the best fare to HI.)

I spent 1 hour 7 minutes on hold with Orbitz (listening to Pachelbel’s Canon on repeat the whole time).

Orbitz said, For us to call the airline, the wait is 60 minutes. You can call the airline yourself and it might be faster.

I called the airline myself. U.S. Airways said, We’re experiencing higher than usual call volume and then hung up on me.

Now we don’t know what’s going to happen…

UPDATE
9 phone calls (8 of them to U.S. Airways) and 3 hours later, we have a new itinerary from hell but are grateful for it:

Maui to Honolulu tonight
Honolulu to Phoenix overnight (arr. 9 am)
Stay all day in Phoenix
Phoenix to Charlotte overnight (depart midnight)
Charlotte to DC (arr. 9 am)

Then we get to drive from the airport through the snow!

The Change

I’ve just switched over to using a Blackberry and twelve hours into it, I’m totally lost and confused.

It won’t turn on. I can’t figure out how to turn it on and make it start up.

I also can’t figure out how to make it sync my contacts and calendar, without which it’s just a very fancy wall phone.

Send help.

Are You the Key Master?

Today as I gathered up my things to leave work, I glanced at my keychain and noticed suddenly:

my car key was not there.

This presented a problem as I had driven to work, needed to drive home to feed Arden and go to a meeting, and was facing either a 30 minute commute or a 65 minute Metro ride. I barely had time for the former.

I did what you’re supposed to do: I retraced steps, checked under things, felt up my pockets until they blushed. Then, I did the odd/unthinkable: went right to my car and tried to open the door.

It swung open. That morning when I took my key out of the ignition, I noticed my gym lock key sitting on the floor mat, but I just picked it up and put it back on, not noticing at the time my car key was also missing from the ring.

Because it was sitting there on the center console, all bare and stealable. And me with unlocked doors. Oh, how the gods smiled upon me today and saved my little xAnder (my Scion’s Buffy-inspired name).

It reminded me of the only other time I’ve lost my car key. (There is another time an ex-boyfriend dropped my car key in the Salt River, but that’s a story for another time when there are margaritas handy.) I woke up in Phoenix one morning and decided I wanted to go to the Circle K across the street from my complex.

But since it was Phoenix, I had to drive there.

You should know I’m the kind of person who never leaves the house without:
> Showering
> Deodorizing
> Doing the hair
> Putting on clean clothes

That day was a notable exception. I hadn’t even brushed my teeth! I threw on a scuzzy hat, a tank top, and yes, even a pair of gym shorts (unspeakable!) and tooted on over to the Circle K. I was already so wrapped up in what kind of Frappuccino I’d get that I didn’t notice myself lock the car, get out, and start to close the door. What snapped me from my reverie was the anomaly of hearing my radio play as the door closed. The air conditioning on full blast. The shy hum of the engine as it idled. And the sharp click of the door locking.

I spun out. Internally. But then I went in and bought my coffee, got change for the payphone, and called a locksmith.

Four hours, they said. Probably someone would be there by then. I died a little. Four hours, in public, in gym shorts! And flip flops. And a tank top. I might as well pole dance on the corner while I was at it.

The thought did cross my mind, followed quickly by another: Beau had spare keys to my place. Beau was working. So, I did what any sane person would do.

I willed myself to remember Beau’s cell phone number, which I don’t even know how I did since I don’t know any phone numbers that don’t belong to me.

And then I called him. Again and again and again and again and again and again and again, hanging up each time before his voice mail kicked in.

After approximately 300 calls he answered. “WHAT DO YOU WANT????”

I calmly explained that I was in an emergency situation involving gym shorts and a locked and running car and needed him to come home, get my spare car key from my apartment, and then unlock my car.

All of which he did in under 15 minutes. Because he is amazing. And he wasn’t even annoyed with me after. He has the memory of a goldfish, I think sometimes. But God bless him for it.

Dark Clouds

Gossip Girl goes into reruns starting this week, with no new episodes until after the new year. It’ll be hard to manage, but I’m glad something finally happened this season.

Jenny is my favorite character. Although I love me some Blair and Serena, I really like Jenny’s moxie. She stood up to the girls at school and beat them at their own game, then set off to take the fashion–and philanthropy–world by storm with her guerilla fasion show. Yes, you heard me–there was a guerilla fashion show.

Then Jenny considered emancipating herself from her parents.

Now she generally just has punk-rock hair and wears cute clothes. She doesn’t raise hell unless somebody goes looking for it. I relate to that.

Well, loyal readers, this week represents my final work week before retreating west for R&R with the fam and the bf. I probably won’t put in another 60 hour week, but it’ll be busy. Posts will be sparse, their depth debatable. But while I’m out there working it, I hope you’ll be working it too, poetically speaking. Write me something nice. Bonus points if you use the word “coal,” because that’s what some of you’ll be getting this holiday season. Might be a good investment in these tough economic times!

You know you love me.

xoxo,
CR

Dumb Betty

I wanted to tell you a funny story from a few weeks back when Beau was here.

We got some friends together and hopped in the Scion to visit Kings Dominion, just outside Richmond. I had initially looked up directions on Google and saw it would take, theoretically, two and a half hours (ugh). We pulled out of DC with about that much time to spare before the gates opened, but I had forgotten the actual physical address of the park, so I just searched for it in the GPS index, found it, and set our destination.

We set out feeling laughy, happy, excited. We named my GPS Betty because she has a sort of librarian-like tone in her voice when giving instruction, and she’s awfully insistent. Betty estimated the trip would only take slightly longer than an hour–and we were so thrilled we didn’t even think why.

When we were about five miles away, with an hour to spare before opening, we opted to pull into a rural Dunkin Donuts. Across the street were two individuals selling “BBQ and Fish” they were cooking inside what looked like big trash barrels. It was just after 9 am. Let me reiterate that. The line inside the middle-of-nowhere Dunkin was nearly out the door and stayed that way the entire time we were there. So we sat, enjoyed some scalding hot coffee, devoured donuts and such, and then drove off on Betty’s recommended side streets to what I assumed was a back entrance to Kings Dominion, since we couldn’t see it.

“Turn Right in point-two miles,” Betty said suddenly, “and arrive at destination on right in point-two miles.”

We looked around. We were in the midst of one of Virginia’s famous McMansion developments. A man in a ratty t-shirt and boxers shuffled out from his front door to grab the Saturday paper, his eyes just half-slits. A kid rode by on a bike and looked at us like alien creatures, which I suppose we were.

“Nice driving, Betty,” someone said. I pulled over, half in denial of not being at the park, and half because I wanted to ring Betty’s little librarian neck.

Then, it began to rain. As if matters couldn’t get worse. Rain on theme park day is like finding a pube in your french fries, but a little sadder, because more people are affected.

Everyone whipped out a Blackberry (it was a fully Blackberried or Motorola Q-d car load) and began browsing for the correct address. When I finally got it and plugged it in, Betty realized we still had about an hour left. Everyone groaned. We wove our way out McMansionhood and crossed Jefferson Davis Highway (for real, that’s what it’s called) back onto the interstate, where, an hour letter, Betty told us we had arrived at our destination–this time, we knew it was true, as we were centered in an enormous, nearly empty parking lot, but it was Kings Dominion’s parking lot, and then we were there.

X Furniture Is Evil, 2

The day after the right chair arrived in the wrong color, I called X Furniture to discuss the problem.

A young woman answered with a bright voice. “How can I help you today?”

I said, “Can you please pull up my order invoice and tell me what it says?”

Sounds of her clicking some keys, clearing her throat, breathing. She says, “Okay, I see it here. You got the chaise lounge in the ivory.”


[Ivory]

I said, “No, that’s what I bought. What I got is a chaise lounge in beige.”

She says, “In beige?”

“In beige.”


[Beige]

She turns in her chair and it squeaks loudly into the phone. “Lemme check something,” she says, and I hear the sounds of papers flipping. She makes thinking noises. “Oh, okay, I see here. The guy who sold you the chair typed in ‘Ivory’ as the description of the color, but he typed in the number for beige.”


[Side-by-side comparison of ivory and beige]

I felt a little relief. “Oh, god,” I said, laughing a little. “Well, I’d like to get the ivory one delivered, then.”

“Okay, we can—” She stops suddenly. “Oh.”

“What?”

“That chair doesn’t come in ivory,” she says awkwardly. “It comes in black, sage, honey, and beige. But no ivory.”

I scoffed. “Well, that’s really irritating because I was sold an ivory chaise,” I countered. “I mean, the guy offered it to me in that color, it’s not like I just made it up.”

“But that chair doesn’t come in ivory,” she repeated.

“YEAH,” I said, getting louder. “I heard that. But that’s what you sold me. So that’s a big problem.”

“You don’t want the beige chair?” she asked, a little incredulous.

“NO, I want the chair I plunked down my credit card to buy.”

“But sir, it doesn’t come in ivory.” Her voice took on a confidential tone. “Sir, I don’t mean to be offensive,” she started, signaling that what she was about to say would be horrifyingly so, “but the man who placed this order? He’s, um…well, he’s foreign.”


[Some languages spoken by foreigners, none of which are English.]

“So?”

“So maybe he got confused between beige and ivory,” she finished.

“You think that being foreign makes someone laughably color blind?”


[Example of tests administer to determine color-blindness]

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means that only a legitimate blind person would mistake beige for ivory!” I shouted, suddenly becoming very angry and, at the same time, very authoritatively gay, like Martha Stewart with a beard. This is never a good combination, although it does tend to get good results.


[Martha Stewart, beard not pictured]

“Sir, this isn’t my fault.” She was clearly confused and wanted off the phone.

“I realize it’s not your fault,” I said with quiet assertion. “I know you didn’t cause this, but you’re the one who’s going to fix it.”

“Well, that chair doesn’t come in ivory.” Sound of her going back to the book. “It comes in…black, sage, honey, and….and beige.”

In my head I imagined the scene from Carrie when the girl, drenched in pig’s blood, humiliated, taunted, bursts into anger and causes all the exits to slam shut with the power of her mind. In that moment I was that girl, covered in blood but it was beige blood, both bland and disgusting, and I, too, was being taunted by Z Furniture’s color-blind, foreign staff who were unable to tell the difference between two unmistakably different shades of two different colors!


[Dramatization of me during this phone call. Do not attempt.]

A friend of mine once noted that nobody ever identifies themselves as being “evil,” that “evil” is a label society constructs and places on other things, usually things outside of the body politic. And yet, every day, reasonable people are driven to the very cliffs of their sanity by retail industry workers. “I know,” I said, “So it means you basically stole from me. You sold me a product that doesn’t exist and now here I am with a chair the exact same color as my beige walls, my beige carpet, and let me tell you, this chair has become the invisible jet of chairs because in this room, Wonder Woman’s the only person who can find it to sit in it!”

So the woman says, “Sir, we can exchange the chair for you if you will simply choose between black, sage, honey or…or beige,” she seethed.

We were locked in an epic battle of wits. We each knew neither would relent or back down, but we also knew no one was hanging up the phone. There were principles to think of, our sanity to preserve…and plus, we had to win.

But suddenly, an odd calm came over me. I looked around my living room with its black furniture and gray couch. Would another color be so bad, I wondered. I remembered back to that day many weeks ago when I, younger and with an idealistic sense about the world of retail, walked into their showroom and sat momentarily in the black chaise lounge on their showroom floor.

I cleared my throat. Very quietly, I told her, “The only compromise I would be willing to accept at this point is getting a black chair.”

I could hear the tension break. “Fine!” She said. “We’ll have it delivered tomorrow. But you’re getting the one off the showroom floor,” she said quickly, her voice fading slightly as the phone moved further and further from her head. And then the line went dead.

And the very next day, much to my overwhelming surprise, this was delivered:

A black chaise. And you know what? It works.

Why I Hate X Furniture

The weekend after I moved here, I decided to “treat” myself by going out and buying a chair for my living room. I am not a big spender by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, I simply hate parting with anything larger than a $20 bill. But, because I had been such a big brave boy about my cross-country move and was still relatively emotional/crazy about Beau’s trip back to Arizona, a little retail therapy was helpfully prescribed.

I saw the chair in an ad for X Furniture in the City Paper, a free weekly here in DC. It was a beautiful, majestic chaise that had “Nintendo Wii chair” written all over it. How wonderful to laze in a fully reclined position whilst tapping out rhythms in Guitar Hero or thwarting demons in Zelda?

It was my first big Metro experience when I went to their showroom, sat in the chair, and bought it.

“It comes in black, beige, red, or ivory,” the salesperson told me.

I thought about the color scheme developing in my apartment with its beige carpet, beige walls, and black furniture. I briefly considered red, as all of my accents in the room are red, but then blurted out, “Um, ivory,” thinking about the potential contrast, about lightening things up in there.

He ordered the chair. “It’ll take a week,” he said, and then charged my credit card.

* * *

The next two weeks were a blur of getting situated in my job, going to every single literary event in the metro area, meeting people, rushing home, riding the Metro, running to Target, etc. I was exhausted, but, come Sunday of the second week, I realized I was still missing my chair, noticeable only as my boxes unpacked themselves and went to the dumpster. With Beau gone, there was a big empty place in my heart, but now there was also one in my living room. At least the latter I could fix. Theoretically.

I called X Furniture and explained I was still waiting. “Oh, I see it here,” the man told me. “It’s on its way to the warehouse now and will be delivered by the end of the week.”

“Great!” I said.

* * *
Two weeks later, there was still no chair but the empty places in my heart and my apartment were getting wider and developing their own zip codes.

I called the store again. This is when I was finally starting to get angry. A woman answered. I explained the situation.

She said, “It’s sitting in our warehouse.” Oh, I thought. “Let’s set up a time for delivery.” She and I set a time for late last week, in the evening when I’d be sure to be home. I thanked her and, feeling my anger subside, began considering the precise placement of the chair.

* * *
Four days later, I was in my apartment waiting for the chair. Arden had been walked and fed and I was catching up on my Bravo shows. 90 minutes into my delivery appointment, I got a phone call.

“This is X Furniture delivery guy calling,” he mumbled, barely coherent. “Can you reschedule please the appointment.”

“No,” I said. The next day I was traveling for work and besides, I fulfilled my end of the commitment. Uncharacteristically, I said, “You need to come tonight.”

An hour later he called and said he was outside, which, with the configuration of my apartment complex, is similar to saying you are “right outside” at LAX or, maybe more appropriately, sitting outside the Smithsonian waiting for me. I walked outside, wandered around, and then finally saw him on the opposite side of the courtyard, lumbering toward me with the chaise slung over his shoulder.

He dropped it on my floor. “Sign,” he said, handing me a piece of paper. Then he left.

I pulled off the four layers of wrapping on the chair: An exterior canvas-like wrapper, tied around the edge with string; a thin, white foam insider; a series of packing tape ribbons ringing the entire object; and, finally, several enormous foam rubber pads cradling the chair like the folds of an ear.

And that’s when I saw it: my chair in all its glory.

And, it was beige.

Tomorrow: Part II.