Yesterday was one of those kinds of days that drives me to eat. It would drive me to drink, or drugs, or smoke, if I did those kinds of things. But it drove me to eat. And shop.
Call from rugrat about 8:30 am, just before subway goes underground and I lose the signal
--Mami, the car quit, just stopped running. Said between sniffles and tears.
--Is it off the road?
--OK, call AAA, and have them tow it to the auto shop by home. Said with all kinds of love and urgency before the subway tunnel cut us off.
Call from rugrat, miraculously while above ground at 125th
--Mami, AAA says you didn't renew, so they won't come. Said with same tears but more despair.
--Sorry baby, as soon as I get to the office I'll call them and take care of it and call you back. I love you. Not sure if that part got through before the call was dropped as the subway went back underground for a long subway ride during which all I could think about was all the things that could happen to a young girl/woman stranded on the side of the road and felt guilty for trying to wait for the state income tax return to pay the AAA bill.
Call to AAA to renew policy; it was due the 28th, they have a 10 day grace period, this was March 14.
--I need to pay over the phone so that the payment shows right away; my child is stuck on the side of the road near White Plains. Said urgently, knowing the rugrat is waiting.
--It's all in place, but you only have 3 miles of free towing. Even though you paid for the extra service including unlimited towing, you have a 10 day waiting period before it kicks in because you let the account lapse and you're way over the 10 day grace period. Anything over 3 miles is $3.50 per mile.
--You have got to be kidding. Said in an angry and frustrated tone, by the mom that knows that her rugrat has no cash with her.
--Said in her mind: I pay double the rate for the extra towing, but I can't get the extra towing for 10 days? And four days is 'way over' the grace period? Nah, this isn't fucked up at all.
Call to rugrat to let her know AAA is good.
--Call AAA now sweetie, they'll come. Do you have your debit card to pay for the tow truck? Call me when it gets there.
Call from rugrat; at this point, she's been on the side of the road for more than two hours.
--Tow truck's here mami. Said with a solid voice and no more tears.
--OK sweetie, call me when you get home.
Call from rugrat.
--I'm home finally home mami. The mechanic paid the $18 for the tow truck and then put it on the bill, 'cause the tow truck doesn't take credit cards.
--Said to self: jesus h christ, what would she have done if they'd taken her to an unknown mechanic?
Call from rugrat.
--The mechanic called. Said in a hesitant voice that says this is going to be a pocketbook hit. It's the alternator. And he said the alternator for our car is more expensive than usual. He said it would be about $325.
--OK, call them back and tell them to go ahead, and ask them if it will be ready today. Otherwise, we have to figure out how you'll get to and from work over the weekend.
I finish my workshop and head to the bank to cash a paycheck for a previous workshop attendance that for some strange reason the employer didn't direct deposit so that I can pay for the damned alternator.
--I'd like to cash this please.
--Do you have an account here?
--You have to have an account here. We deposit the check in your account and you have to wait until the check clears.
--But I need the money right now. That's why I didn't go to my bank. This check was written on your bank. It's your check, how can you not honor it?
--As I said ma'am, you need to have an account here in order to cash this check. Said in a smug, condescending voice with accompanying down-her-nose look.
Wipe that look off your face right now, you supercilious (god I love that word) bitch, I thought. I am not white trash just because I need money asap. Fuck, it isn't as though the city of new york would write a bad check for a lousy $217 big ones.
I should stand there and raise a major ruckus, I thought. Yell loudly enough to attract the attention of all the customers. Throw a few things, slam a few doors. But I don't. Because that isn't acceptable behavior in public, now is it.
I know why some people just go off and lose control publicly though, blowing people away right and left. I really do. The only thing that separates them from me is the thinnest bit of thread connecting me to sanity. If that thread, which vibrates and hums often, and is downright singing at the moment, were to suddenly snap and sever my hold on reality...I'd take as many of those smug bitches and fuckers out as I could before the cops brought me down. I really would.
The subway ride home mid-day meant masses of teens, cramming onto already full cars and yelling to each other across them, giving a whole new meaning to the word cacophony.
Then there was the young woman who looked hung over at the train station, at the machine trying to buy a ticket north and falling 50 cents short and begging for two quarters.
That cigarette hanging out of your mouth and blowing right into my lungs probably cost you two quarters. Maybe you should have thought of that, said the hypocrite...in my mind of course. What I did publicly was fish two quarters out of my wallet for her.
The car was done an hour after I arrived home. Since I couldn't cash that paycheck, spent a half hour online checking the open credit of various credit cards. The mechanic accepted $100 cash, put $100 on my visa, and $163.20 on my mastercard.
And of course all I could think about at that point was handling the stress the way I usually do: with food and spending more money. Which led to dinner at IHOP and some coupon shopping at Macy's and Lane Bryant, where I have credit cards.
As if I need more debt. Sometime I wish I had a less expensive way of dealing with stress.
(photo mine, world trade center site, nyc)
(title, Colin Hay song)