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Exit ArchiveArchive for September 12th, 2005

Welcome back, Steve! Sorry to hear your return was less than relaxing. My vacation ended up with stress, as well — although, in my case, it was because both Jeff and I came back sick. We got back on Wednesday evening, and when we woke up Thursday morning, we both said, “Does it feel like we never even went on vacation?!”

So, here’s my own little tale of woe for you and the massive Wren audience:

As you probably know, one of the sole positive accomplishments made by Arnold Schwarzenegger as California governor has been to pass a bill allowing owners of hybrid vehicles to use carpool lanes.

Three weeks ago or so, the DMV finally made the application available. I downloaded it, sent in all the requested information and my $8 and went on vacation. When I got back, I had a notice from the DMV saying that my request was “suspended” and would be released pending receipt of “needed information.”

What, I wondered, could be needed? I followed all instructions explicitly. One of the required documents was a receipt from FastTrak(r), a cleverly spelled ruse that requires you to pay up front to use the numerous bridges in the Bay Area. I had sent in my receipt, but now the DMV was telling me that the receipt did not show the license plate number and make/model of my car. I re-read the DMV’s website carefully, and, of course, nowhere does it say this information is required.

So, I called FastTrak(r), to ask them to send me the requested receipt. No, I was told, they cannot do that. Rather, they need a copy of my DMV registration to prove I have a hybrid vehicle. I will need to send them THAT information before they can send me ANOTHER form to fill out in order to claim the hybrid-HOV decal that they have kindly “set aside” for me. (They also cashed my check for eight bucks.)

I lost the paper on which I wrote down the FastTrak(r) address, so today I called FastTrak(r) again to get it. And guess what? The woman who answered today told me something entirely different! No, that’s not what I need to send in, she said. Rather, I have to download a different form from the FastTrak(r) website requesting a “new hybrid transpoder” for my car, which will cost another 40 bucks. After receiving this, I can then re-apply for the DMV’s HOV sticker, which has already been “set aside” for my convenience!

I am not sure what to think of all this. All I know is, I begin my commute to the Presidio next Monday, and even though I have been trying to get this sticker for more than a month, it now appears I will not have it in time, and will have to sludge through traffic with everyone else.

Sigh. Welcome to Big Government. I can only imagine what people in New Orleans and Biloxi must be going through.

I was away for a week, enjoying doing nothing at Lake Powell but get a tan, swim, boat, and eat.

Once again, the trip back home dissolved all my relaxation immediately.

It started with my flight from Grand Junction to Phoenix being delayed. It was just enough of a delay to make me late for my next flight. However, once I got to Phoenix, I saw that my second flight had been delayed, so I ran across two terminals to get to the gate. (Yes, the departing gate was not only two terminals away, but also at the very last gate at the end of the terminal.)

I dashed up to the gate, where the door was already closed. The agent said, “L.A.? You need to be on this plane. get on now!” “What will happen to my luggage?” I asked. “They will get it to you, just get on this plane!” It was almost rude, as if it was my fault I was late.

As I handed the second gate person my ticket, turns out this was not my flight. The door to my flight, two gates away, was not able to be re-opened. But the flustered first agent told the second agent to just let me on.

I got on that flight and was so flustered myself now that I think the flight attendants thought I was a terrorist. “Any seat? How about this one? Can I go to the bathroom first? What’s this flight number? When does it get into L.A.?”

I had to text Marcy, who was picking me up at LAX, and then, once the plane was off, I was fine, melted into the world of Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions.

Once at LAX, I had to arrange for my missing bags to be delivered to me. Fortunately, this was simple and only took a few minutes.

Once home, however, I discovered something odd: Someone had shut off the power to my apartment. In the laundry room, where the breaker boxes are, the switches to my place were off.

That’s when the stress of the trip home started getting to me. Once I switched the power back on, I had to not only re-set all my clocks and the VCR (What’s a VCR?), but I had to throw out everything in my fridge but the drinks.

Who turned off my power? I have some theories, but none of them make sense. Say I’d left my clock alarm on accidentally, and the upstairs neighbors got tired of hearing it go off every morning at 4:45. The only way to stop that is to turn off my power. But then why not turn it back on? Everyone knows those alarm clock reset the instant they lose power. Or what if my noisy next door neighbors, who saw me packing my suitcase for the trip, decided to get revenge and turn off my power? The laundry room is often unlocked, so that would not be hard to do. But that gives them simply too much credit. They are not smart enough to come up with such a scheme.

So I do not know what happened, but it made me very angry. And these days, when I’m angry, I go to The Wren Forum to rant.

But guess what was not working? Yeah, maybe you saw the message if you tried to visit the Forum, but my account had been suspended. Turns out I’d given the wrong year on the expiration date for the card I use to pay for this fine service, and the notice of the payment failure went to my work e-mail, which of course I don’t read outside of work. And I’d been gone a week…

More infuriating, though, was that I could change the card info and have the invoice paid automatically within minutes online, but had to wait until Monday to have my account re-activated because that’s done by the billing department, and they only work on weekdays.

So so much for the calm, relaxing mood from my vacation. Again.