"It will be simple."
Right before Christmas, a friend of a friend dropped her car off at my house. Gjertrud and her husband saw the writing on the walls of America and peaced out back to Norway. The one American thing they'd enjoyed was NPR, so instead of selling their car, they decided to do a charity vehicle donation where the charity takes a car and sells it for money.
Gjertrud handed me a big packet of paperwork: the car's title and all the repairs and other car-related forms. I got the keys. Someone from NPR was supposed to call me about picking up the vehicle. It was supposed to take less than a week.
Since it was Christmas, then New Year's, I didn't worry about my silent phone. Then I went out of town for business and had a short visit with my Grandma. I told myself I'd deal with it when I was back.
On January 10, I called the vehicle donation line listed on KUOW's website. A friendly guy picked up. I told him the situation. How no one had called me, and I'd waited long enough thinking it was holiday-related slowness. He discovered that Gjertrud's (disconnected) cell phone was the primary contact info, and there was a note to call me instead. We both agreed that the pick up company probably missed the note. He told me he'd get it sorted, and they'd call me tomorrow to arrange a time.
No one called.
Eight days later, I took a deep breath and called again. This time I got a lady, whose name she never gave, so I'll call her A. A informed me that the reason the vehicle hadn't been picked up was due to missing information. The records were blank on if the car had a signed title, if the transmission worked, and if the car ran. When she asked the last question, I told her that Gjertrud had driven it from Moses Lake to Seattle before dropping it off, so yes, it ran. A seemed unsure about this answer. Maybe this is a national NPR donation line, maybe A didn't know Moses Lake is a three hour car ride away because she's not from Washington state. "Yes, it runs," I repeated.
"Are you sure you want the donation to go to KLWS - Northwest Public Radio?" A asked, sounding annoyed. Maybe she was in Seattle. (Spoiler: A was.) Was she unhappy it wasn't going to Seattle's KUOW, which didn't reach Moses Lake as an NPR service? "Yes, that's right," I responded.
A told me it was now assigned to a "vendor." She didn't tell me what a vendor meant — tow truck company? auto auction? auto dealer? repair shop? — or who they were. She gave me a reference number. I asked about the phone number issue. A seemed confused why Gjertrud's phone wouldn't work. I explained again that Gjertrud lived in Norway now. A said she'd change the phone number, and in 2-3 days, someone would call me to arrange a pick up time.
Two to three days passed. My mom was visiting. I got distracted. I joked that I was ready to sell the car on Craigslist, except Gjertrud had already sent in paperwork to NPR. Jacob warned me about a friend of his now banned from the US due to an impounded car he sold to someone, who never switched the title. I wasn't going to get Gjertrud banned from the US.
I called 11 days later. The phone rang and rang. The auto-hold system featured terrible "music" with a high-pitched beep, right before the music stops for a recorded message asking you to leave a message if you were tired of waiting. Then repeated the loop. I put my phone on speaker and answered emails for about 15 minutes before a voice picked up. It was A, surprised that someone had stayed on the line that long.
I gave A the reference number she'd given me. She couldn't find it. I was short and clipped with her. Not mean, just clearly an unhappy customer. A had me spell out Gjertrud's first and last names. She commented on how weird the spelling was and made guesses on Gjertrud's nationality. When A pulled up the file finally, she said, "Oh, I remember you." And she followed with, "I need to put you on hold."
It was my lunch break, and I was waiting until after my call to run my stovetop's noisy fan. But A kept me on hold. I cooked my entire taco with fan on and phone to my ear. Right as I finished, the hold line hung up on me. I screamed into the aether.
Then I called the line back. Got put on hold for another two minutes before a new woman answered. I explained to B that I'd just been on hold with a colleague of hers. B also couldn't make use of the reference number. I spelled Gjertrud's name, and got the same unoriginal national origin speculation. When B found the file, she said, "Oh, I see you just called." I definitely responded with, "Yes, as I just told you."
B then informed me the good news that "Amanda Wells" had been assigned as my vendor. Again, she didn't tell me what vendor meant. B put me on hold to call Amanda. She said unfortunately, Amanda wasn't in, but B left her a message. I asked what phone number she gave Amanda. B rattled off Gjertrud's disconnected line. Once again, I explained the wrong phone number situation. B said she'd call Amanda right back and give her my phone number. B promised me Amanda would call me within a day.
I searched for "Amanda Wells" and automotive in Seattle. No luck. I just wanted to know what vendor meant, and maybe find a number if no one called me.
A week later, Amanda hadn't called me.
The car had been sitting outside my house for a month and a half. My neighbors probably wanted to use that parking spot. Good thing I live in Beacon Hill where they don't enforce street parking. Unlike my old place in Wallingford, where after 72 hours, you'd have a stack of parking tickets and NIMBY neighbors outraged at the violation of their streets by possible "hot" cars in "their spots" on the street. (That's how I met some of my oh-so-friendly, rent-shaming Wallingford Boomer neighbors!)
I called the Vehicle Donation Line one more time. This time a guy picked up. Possibly the first guy I talked to. I gave C my reference number. He found the file and said, "Gjertrud?" Instead of explaining my story, I just responded with "yep." I told C that B informed me Amanda Wells had been assigned as the vendor, but I hadn't heard from her. That I just wanted to get rid of the vehicle and had been getting the run around for over a month. C asked me if I'd been given her phone number, and I responded no. Just when I thought the levels of incompetence couldn't get greater, he laughed and said, "That's not your vendor, Amanda's a vendor in Arizona!"
I asked about the phone number on record. C read off Gjertrud's number. I told him it was an old number and had been disconnected. C then said there was a secondary number, which was mine, and promised me he'd make mine the primary number. He gave me a phone number for my "vendor" and told me to ask for "Lisa in dispatch" if I didn't hear from her by tomorrow morning.
While we were still on the phone, I used a reverse directory search to discover Lisa worked for a Seattle automative auction house. At least, we were in the right state!
The next day, Lisa didn't call. But I felt better about not having to call NPR again. I left Lisa a voice mail, asking her to call me. A couple hours later, she returned my call and asked for Gjertrud. "Yep." She informed me that over the last month, they'd been trying to call Gjertrud's old number. I died. She had the right number now. Lisa told me I'd get a call within a day from the person who'd pick up the car.
Within a day, my phone beeped with a text message from Flavio. I was baking bread and responded after work hours. Flavio said I could text or call. Texting! I didn't have to call anyone anymore. I sent him my available times, and then followed up in the morning when I hadn't heard back. He chose a 2-hour window on Friday.
The first hour, Flavio didn't show up. The second hour was a virtual peer event support group I'm part of. I told my group that if my doorbell rang, I'd have to get off our call. I texted Flavio and asked him to please ring my doorbell. He responded okay, so I assumed he was on his way.
As my call and the 2-hour window ended, no Flavio, but then Flavio texted me he'd be there in 15 minutes. I had another important call in 30 minutes. I also had to pee. I waited. It was more than 15 minutes.
When I finally peed, the doorbell rang. I rushed to answer the door, grabbed the paperwork, and followed Flavio to the car. He was surprised it ran. Flavio's paperwork told him to bring his tow truck, despite me telling all parties the car ran. I don't know who he thought I was: Gjertrud, Erica, or someone else. But that didn't matter. Flavio was here to take away the car.
I picked a few weeds in my garden as he looked over the car, took photos, turned it on, and drove it away. Then I went in my house and did a dance of the joy!
The car is gone! The car is gone! The car is gone!
Bitch Planet: Triple Feature, Vol. 1 by Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Maria Frohlich, Andrew Aydin, Joanna Estep, Conley Lyons, Craig Yeung, Che Grayson, Sharon Lee De La Cruz, Danielle Henderson, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, Jordan Clark, Naomi Franquiz, Alissa Sallah, Alec Valerius, Dylan Meconis, Kit Cox, Vanesa R. Del Rey, Marc Deschamps, Mindy Lee, Sara Woolley, Vita Ayala, Rossi Gifford, Matt Fraction, Elsa Charretier, Jon Tsuei, Saskia Gutekunst, Bassey Nyambi, Eyang Nyambi, Nyambi Nyambi, and Chris Visions ⭐️ 4/5 stars
Your mileage may very on these stories exploring the world of Bitch Planet. My biggest critique is that some had zero satire in them. Zero. They were our world.
Injection, Vol. 3 by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire ⭐️ 5/5 stars
Brigid is my favorite Doctor Who. I loved this volume.
The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath and Dan Heath ⭐️ 2/5 stars
Read as part of the #52Challenge for "a book you've been meaning to read." I feel horrible that I didn't like this book. (Chip spoke at my last conference, and gave advanced reader copies to the attendees.) There wasn't a defined audience for this book beyond generic "business leaders," the framework was slim, and the examples often didn't stand up when poked. I will probably review this only on my Patreon.
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo ⭐️ 4/5 stars
Doing a series of YA novels based on DC comics with hot YA authors is a solid move on DC's part. These very much to capture the superhero film audience, who may or may not ever be ready to buy comics. Overall, this book is a great addition to Wonder Woman's mythos, and while in a different timeline, an easy accessible YA novel for those who loved the film, but maybe aren't ready to figure out what comics to read. (Psst...read the ones by Greg Rucka and the ones by Gail Simone.) The beginning was slow, and the pacing off in places. But Bardugo delivers. The original characters are great, and her Diana grows as the book continues.
Things I wrote recently
A Cat Lady Named Alice in Wonderland: Book Review
Part of my #52Challenge series, I walked away from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland still not knowing what to make of it.
Reviews on my comics blog:
- Bombshells: United #1, #2, and #3, book by Marguerite Bennett, Marguerite Sauvage, Siya Oum, and Luciano Vecchio, rating: 3.6/5 stars
- Hawkeye #7, #8, and #9, book by Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero, rating: 4.3/5 stars
- Hulk #7, #8, and #9, book by Mariko Tamaki, Georges Duarte, Julian Lopez, and Francesco Gaston, rating: 3.6/5 stars
- Injection #13, #14, and #15, book by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey, rating: 4.3/5 stars
- Misfit City #1, #2, and #3, book by Kirsten ‘Kiwi’ Smith, Kurt Lustgarten, and Naomi Franquiz, rating: 3.3/5 stars
- Supergirl #10, #11, and #12, book by Steve Orlando, Brian Ching, and Robson Rocha, rating: 2.3/5 stars
- The Tea Dragon Society, book by Katie O’Neill, rating 5/5 stars
Green thumb update
Went to a free seed exchange yesterday. It was delightful. People brought extra veggie, fruit, herb, and edible flower seeds (plus donations from gardening stores) and you got to take what you wanted. I shared extra romaine lettuce, radish, and cilantro seeds from my garden. The King County Seed Lending Library does these events twice a year and keeps a "library" of the extra ones, but you can find similar ones all over the country.
[TV] Netflix's revival of Queer Eye has destroyed me. It isn't exactly what you're expecting. Yes, they still makeovers, cooking lessons, and interior design. But I feel like someone watched Great British Bake Off and was like "how do we make people feel good and accept queer people?" Both Jacob and I balled our eyes out over episode four.
[INTERNET OF THINGS] The House That Spied on Me — "I thought the house would take care of me but instead everything in it now had the power to ask me to do things. Ultimately, I’m not going to warn you against making everything in your home smart because of the privacy risks, although there are quite a few. I’m going to warn you against a smart home because living in it is annoying as hell."
[WHAT DID I JUST READ?] In Conversation: Quincy Jones — The music legend on the secret Michael Jackson, his relationship with the Trumps, and the problem with modern pop.
[#METOO] In The Midst Of #MeToo, What Type Of Man Do You Want To Be? Ijeoma Oluo asks the real question to men about the work they must do.
Black Panther is next week!