The original words of Phanes, tirelessly carved into a slab of "No'".

Why Patience Is Important

I normally only whine about bad software or documentation, or community trends, but tonight I had such a terrible night that I decided to chronicle it, because, man, this was the stuff of unfortunate legends and I almost lost my cool — and I’m glad I didn’t.

So, it all started a few weeks ago.

First, my fridge went out.  Then I had it fixed.  Then it went out again a few days later.  Then again.  And again.

After buying 4 loads of groceries thinking it was fixed and having them spoil a few days later, I eventually stopped buying groceries until I just buy a new fridge — since my landlord won’t replace it.

Fast forward.  Electric bill comes in.  800 dollars.  Because apparently the fridge was eating power while in this state.  I do decently for myself, so I could have just paid it, but it still would have been a problem for  convention I went to, so I look for a way to split it up.  Three angry phone calls later I have arrangements.  Next, and last payment was due on the first.

Today is the 19th.

So, after work, I go to walmart, because the washer and dryer facility at my apartment uses a key card you can only fill during office hours, and I am a busy dude, and I let it run out– so I need to buy clothes for work tomorrow, since my CTO is in town, and I need to be dressed well and it’s what should have been laundry night — oh and every coin operated laundrymat within 30 minutes has closed in the year that I’ve lived here. I get a haircut while I’m there at walmart because my hair’d been getting long, and finally, around 8, find my way home.

I come home and there’s a note on the door.  Looks like a cutoff notice, expected.  I come in, and the lights are off.

They apparently meant I can pay on the first but they’ll cut off my power.  I should have just paid it.

The calls were ugly.  I hope no one keeps that recording.  They outsource their payment processor but don’t give access to customer accounts to their outsourced vendor, so I call to make the payment and find out I can’t because they don’t know how much to charge me and have me call the utility back.  So I do.  And apparently they won’t talk to you, even to pay your bill, if you don’t have your 11 digit account number handy to “protect my valuable personal information”.

Because paying other peoples’ bills is a rampant menace that must be stopped at all costs.  They genuinely believe this is a security concern.  Helping people one fraudulent act of being cool to others at a time.

So I scramble in the dark for about an hour hoping my pager doesn’t go off until I sort this out while I try to think of places nearby that have wifi.  I found it.  I called the utility provider back.  Gave him the number, found out how much they wanted, then called the payment vendor, and it’s 20:57 EST.  Gave the CSR my credit card info and the amount and she says processing.  Mid-sentence, at 21:00 at the turning of the second hand of the clock — “Oh it timed out, click”.  She hung up on me while processing payment.  Did it go through?  Did it not go through?  So I called back.  An automated voice says their offices are now closed.  That wretched turd couldn’t wait to finish my transaction to get my power turned back on.  So I use the prompts, promise myself I’m calling back about this tomorrow, and make the payment again.  Confirmation number noted.  I call the utility back, and they say they don’t see either payment.

I ask when my power will be back on.  They say they don’t give time windows.  Which basically translates to “whenever we feel like it”.

I realize there’s only one power provider in the US in any region, meaning they’re splitting the market share geographically, which violates federal monopoly law.

So, I’m on call for my job and require internet access to be able to do it.  I’m in an obvious bind that I need to shift focus to fix.

Pager goes off.  It’s time to get on the VPN.  There’s no wifi.  I go to McDonalds.  False alarm, then back to my shitty dark apartment.

I book a hotel room with known wifi after crawling around in the dark getting my things.

Fast forward, and I’m driving there, and, like any respectable Ohio night where I just need things to go right the rest of the night, it starts flash flooding.  I come to the hotel at about 35 miles with all of the grace of a 2004 ion with no traction, and of course, since it’s Ohio and they don’t do city planning, there’s no entrance from the road — so I take the right after it and find myself on a ramp to the interstate.  Oh my god, I’m suddenly on the interstate in a city where people steer their cars with their faces.  In a flash flood.  A guy turning left from another road cut across and slammed into the side of me ignoring the yield sign and the fact that he was turning left into a one lane ramp that shouldn’t have been accessible to him from where he was driving from.

Of course I haven’t bought insurance yet.  Tennessee had no insurance requirement because they think it would disrupt the free market to make purchase of a private good or service compulsory (they are correct, it is unAmerican to require this).

After a quiet talk with God where I asked if “this is really what he wants from me” I get the other driver’s information since the other driver was basically driving like a dispshit and knows he caused it, and I go through the endless circles of rainy hell that is the 70/270/670 split frequently referenced in Dante’s allegory and eventually find my way to the hotel.

I get on just in time to miss the change window I wanted to be at, soaking wet, half my stuff in the hotel room, and now I’m staring at how my life was completely inverted by a combination of assholes and poor assumptions.

So here I am sitting in my hotel room, waiting to dry, wondering why I just saw my boss sign on at 1230.

But, at least I didn’t lose my cool.

Or get arrested or beat up in the rain.

Or die.

Or fail to find wifi to let people know what’s going on.

Or run out of gas.

Or get a non-smoking room.

70 bucks for the hotel.  God knows how much for the car.  315 for the electric.  80 bucks at walmart.  Plus the 20 for the haircut.  Plus the 10 for the sandwhich.  Plus the carton of smokes I bought today.  Plus the water and redbull.  Plus gas (total 80 at gas station).  I spent like 600 dollars today on almost nothing.

I need a bath.  I need a bath and I need anger management.

Update: 


Half the lights in my hotel room don't work.

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The Personal Blog of Chris Punches