Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ramblings for the Evening (12/20/05)

Because I've been feeling so dry, I pulled out my cool mist humidifier to try and help me while I sleep.
It's not working. This morning I felt like I'd eaten 400 cotton balls. Oy vey.
Let's do it.
So without further ado: YAAAAANNNKEE SWAP!
When It Rains, It Pours...Then Floods:
I open a letter addressed to me today and receive "great" news.
It seems that my mortgage company...well, let me just quote:

"Dear Mr. Leab,
We are writing to let you know that a computer tape containing information about you and your mortgage account with [my mortgage company] has been lost while being transported by DHL courier (I'm leaving them named as they did the losing) service to a credit reporting company.
The tape, which included names, account information, payment history, and Social Security numbers of our residential mortgage customers...."

Now, I got a few problems here.
1. The letter goes on to explain the mortgage company will pay for 90 days of a credit monitoring service. When I see this, I really feel like the letter is B.S., and my company is trying to make money somehow. You sign up for 90 days, and if you forget to check out, you have to pay a full year. And gosh darn if the monitoring service isn't owned by the mortgage company....I don't know if it is, but I need to research.
2. If the letter isn't bogus, then both my mortgage company AND DHL are on my naughty list. How do you lose something so important? You would think with all of the identity theft out there and especially at THIS time of year, they would pay special attention and take care of things.
3. At one point in the letter (which was written by the company's chairman), they explain the tape was lost en route to a credit reporting company with which they were sharing information. When I chose this mortgage company, I made sure to ask about sharing and was told, "We never share our information." Yet, this letter proves they do. So they lied, or didn't know. That's not confidence-inspiring.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Leab. You just bought someone else a boat. It hasn't happened yet, but it might.
This is not the first time a major shipping company has screwed up with me or my family.
Brown is NOT the Color of Confidence:
My parents publish a book called American Book Prices Current. If you're a library or
antiquarian bookseller, you know this book or CD. It is (and I'm using a local bookseller's words here) "the holy bible of book pricing."
This book is essentially a major part of my life. Every year since I was five, I have somehow been involved in the getting this book out. This includes building boxes, packing books, contributing, selling it in one instance, and on and on. Every member of my family, even the dog (free tongue to lick stamps) at one point, worked on getting this book out.
However, there was one year where the book was late. Not because of writing issue or publishing issues. This would be the last year ABPC used United Parcel Services.
You see UPS would pack a truck full of our books (yeah, we sent out that many). One year, the driver didn't really pay attention to what he was doing. He didn't close the rear door of the truck properly. So he's driving through Connecticut, he hits a bump, and the back door of the truck pops open. Our books, go tumbling out all over the street.
Well, he didn't notice until his next stop, and he was unaware of how many books he had lost. Utterly afraid, he finished his route and THEN he called it in to HQ. Several hours had passed since the incident when he finally said something. Not good.
The books which had fallen out were found by some opportunistic men. One of them had heard of the book and knew that it was pricey (around $160 a book). So they took ALL of the books they found and held them for ransom. I'm SO not kidding.
They had a note and everything. We would pay, or the books would be destroyed!
Now, here's where we learn how stupid people can be. Now, this was in the early 90s (so pre-Caller ID), but these guys figured that the cops couldn't trace a phone number if there was a answering machine attached to it.
The cops trace the number and end up arresting these guys at a Mexican restaurant.
Back to the point. My parents decided to no longer use UPS for two reasons:
1. They lost books and didn't call it in for a long time.
2. They never really apologized for losing the books.
Plus, FedEx is cheaper, and they don't expect my retirement-aged parents to load the truck for them. Kind of makes things easier on the 'rents.
And finally:
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?:
I'm really not feeling it this year.
I know it saddens my wife, and I'm trying really hard to fake it around her, but I just don't feel the spirit of the Holidays this year.
We didn't decorate our house, because we won't be here, but it's more than that for me. With this whole "War on Christmas" B.S., the Holiday time feels dirty.
If I say Christmas, I'm a traitor to the part of me that's Jewish. If I say Holiday, I hate Christians. Sigh.
Beyond that, there's SO much greed. The other day Mrs. Leab and I went to Southdale Mall to the Apple store. I bought here an Ipod for her birthday. She's afraid that the little player will break with one drop, so we went to get her a protective case. Probably a good investment. Anyway, that mall was insane.
I grew up in New York where everything is always crowded. You never touch, but the bodies are there. I'm not claustrophobic or agoraphobic, but I hate being in malls. People can't walk,they stop in random place, and tempers ALWAYS run high.
The Apple store was no different. Here was the group of six adults who circled up and stood in the doorway blocking all traffic. Over here was the woman who ripped something (I couldn't see what it was) away from another woman screaming, "I grabbed it first!"
Then I watched a guy buy 4 60GB video Ipods. That's $1600 before tax. I almost threw up. I can't fathom spending that kind of money in one shot. I spent $100 on my wife's gift for the holiday this year, and I felt guilty. That's so much money.
I know that in the new millenium that $100 doesn't seem like much. Hell if you're a homeowner, $100 is your gas bill every month in the Winter.
I just feel like most of America has lost sight of the fact that people need alot of help around this time of year.
My buddy, Mark, spent the money he would have spent on his family buying supplies like pens, paper, etc. for soldiers in Iraq. My sisters and I all gave money to charity for each other for Christmas.
What shocked me was that my mailman hugged me today as I was the ONLY person on my block to give him anything (I'm not ashamed. I gave him a twenty and two tickets to a Wild game for him and his kid). When the MSM has to give guidelines about what to give, that says alot.
I gave money to my newspaper carrier, the trash guys, and gave wine to my neighbors.
A guy asked me for money for the bus today, and I gave him a ride to his destination instead. Was I taking a risk? Sure, but it was worth it. He didn't have to wait out in the cold, and he got to where he wanted.
Yet, for all that, I don't feel it.
It's not the various wars (Iraq, Christmas, etc.), but the indifference. It seems like everyone has forgotten the whole goodwill toward each other.
"Merry Christmas!"
"Fuck you!"
It's coming, just wait.

Sorry, I'm ranting again.
I'm also, according to my wife's co-workers, insane, because I finished ALL of my Holiday shopping on December 3rd. The guy who sits across from my wife is going out tomorrow to buy all of his Christmas gifts. Nothing like last minute.
Then again what do I know? I donated money to
Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network in my father-in-law's name. I could be wrong.


sopheava said...

Oh my god, you're probably the most festive, good-deed-doing person I've ever met. The thing about giving the mailman money and tickets? I wanted to cry a little bit. THAT was cool.

Anonymous said...

re: donation & your father in law- oh no you didn't! (I laughed so hard that my oj came out of my nose. Ouch. But it was worth it)


Admin Worm said...

My dad was a mailman for years. December saw an embarrassment of riches come to our home. Homemade baked goods...wine...food...it was insane.

Thanks for remembering your mailman.

Leab said...

I'm not festive. I just believe in good deeds. I'm a cynic, so I try to prove myself wrong.