No "Thanks", Thanks

So Saturday afternoon I get back to the station after delivering my route, plus several hours off another, and find a little Post-It note stuck on my card by the time clock:
"You have to come in on Monday (forced OT). Thanks. [supervisor's initials]"
Being forced in on my SDOs (Scheduled Days Off) isn't that much of a surprise anymore these last few months. The surprise is much more when I don't have to go in on my days off. Still annoying, though.

But I was actually more annoyed at that "Thanks" on the Post-It. It made it sound as if I had been asked to come in and work Monday, and as if I had agreed to do so.

I'd actually have been less annoyed if the Post-It had said something a little more suitable, like, oh: "I'm forcing you in on your day off again. Up yours."


Life As Damage Control, or, Why I'm A Grumpy SOB

There are times when it seems like life is 90% cleaning up other people's messes.

As mentioned downblog, we ended up having to replace our air conditioner. Since we have a fairly large house, and I didn't want a unit that would start needing repairs within just a few years, or one that would make our electric bill creep up, we got a top-of-the-line double-compressor 5-ton Trane. About $10,000.

Ouch. Should pay for itself eventually, but still....

I put $2,500 from savings down as a deposit. For the rest, I initially thought of using the home equity credit line from our credit union, but some number crunching revealed that using our Mastercard (which I got a few years ago, when they were still offering very low fixed rates) for the remainder would actually save about $400 in interest (based on a three-year payoff plan). And still leave a couple thousand available for other purchases.

So, when the new a/c was installed, I gave the company the credit card info. Checking online a few days later, though, there was no sign of the charge to the credit card. After a week (!), still no charge.

I call the company. The lady responsible for running the credit card charges had been on vacation. But she was back, and she told me she'd run the charge right away.

Problem solved? Uhhh... no. Checked again yesterday, four days after the phone conversation, and still no charge to the card. Called the lady at the a/c company again.

When she'd submitted the charge, she'd forgotten to deduct the $2500 deposit I'd already paid. Which meant the submitted charge had been for the full $10,000+.

Which was more than the credit limit on that card. Which meant:

1) The charge was not approved.

2) But it wasn't disapproved, either. What the attempted over-limit charge did was kick the transaction over to the "Authorization" division of the credit card company, where an "authorization representative" would determine whether the credit limit should be increased and the charge approved... in about a week.

3) If it had been simply disapproved, the a/c lady (who realized her error after getting the bounceback from the credit card company) could have resubmitted the charge with the correct amount. Which she tried to do. Except...

4) The other automatic result of the over-limit attempt was to place a "Hold" on any further transactions to the account until the "authorization representative" made his decision on whether to allow the incorrect charge to be processed.

5) This also meant that the a/c lady couldn't even cancel the over-limit charge. Which she also tried to do.

6) And this ALSO meant that I couldn't make any OTHER charges to the credit card until the "authorization" guy makes a decision on Monday or Tuesday. Charges for things like... oh, refills for some of Hilde's medications.

I spent about half an hour on the phone with the credit card company yesterday. I must have heard the words "we can't do anything for you" seven or eight times in that half hour.

Apparently, having a transaction sent to the authorization division puts the charge inside of Schrodinger's Box: neither alive or dead, until the authorization rep issues his decision. It can be neither processed, or cancelled. The customer service rep I spoke with couldn't even transfer my call to anyone in the authorization division.

I was not impressed.

Fortunately, the medications I tried to refill aren't any of the absolutely essential ones, and Hilde probably won't run out before I (hopefully) get this mess straightened out next week. (And I could, if absolutely necessary, activate a couple of other cards I've only previously used for their 0% introductory rate to save interest on paying off some earlier debt.)

But still... lots of people order meds online these days. And the customer service rep said I was not, by any means, the only person who's found their credit account frozen by situations like this, or even the only one unable to order urgently needed goods. Which means that eventually, some customer will end up in a world of hurt, in the hospital or worse, because the credit card company's policies don't allow for an error to be corrected in a swift manner. Which means the credit card company will eventually find itself facing a wrongful-harm-or-death lawsuit.

And that's why I'm a grumpy son-of-a-bitch today.

("Idiots!" -- Napoleon Dynamite)



Catching up with goings on:

Still working lots of overtime. Thirteen-hour-plus day yesterday, over twelve on Saturday. Annoying. Tiring. Though the big fat paychecks will help pay for the new air conditioner.

Managerial mathematics: One of the routes I had to carry a long relay on has a street delivery time of at least five hours, on a good day. So the supervisor told the carrier casing in the mail to "Split it into two two-hour relays." Well, duh, I ended up taking close to three hours to deliver one of those relays, in addition to overtime on my own route.

Working that many hours in a day is also a violation of the local contract, which means the union has been filing numerous grievances daily, which means management will eventually end up paying penalty money on top of the overtime pay. (But it will probably be months or more before it's actually paid.)

I don't usually gripe about work. But, jeez....

- - - - -

Hilde should be getting a walking cast on her foot next week, if the x-rays show good fusion in the ankle. This will make life a lot simpler.

- - - - -

I've been feeling less inclined to write political posts lately, even if I had time. It seems to be a combination of ennui and angst (textured angst available for a small extra fee)(old, old fannish reference) and futility. I noticed this in the last few months before the 2004 elections as well. I can't seem to shake the feeling that writing a blogpost that'll be read by a few dozen (maybe fifty? I should install SiteMeter) people will have as much influence on deciding the future of the US as trying to stop a runaway train by pissing off the side.

I tend towards a deep cynicism and pessimism, particularly where politics is concerned. I hope I'll be proved wrong in November. But I have a bad feeling....


Missing Movies

Barnes & Noble has been having a "Buy 2, Get A 3rd Free" sale on DVDs recently, so I've been splurging a bit.

Browsing their website, I came across... or rather, didn't come across... several titles I would have liked to buy.

If... was pretty much a cult movie, which may be why it's not available. Ditto O Lucky Man!

But... A Clockwork Orange not available? (By itself; the B&N website did have it as part of a Kubrick boxed set, but I didn't want to spend $100 for it.) I'm really, really surprised. It's not only highly regarded as a science fiction film, but I think I've seen it listed on several "100 Best Movies" lists over the years. (Checking around the Web a bit, I find Amazon.com does have an ACO DVD available. But DeepDiscountDVD.com, like B&N, doesn't. Hmmph.)

(And yes, I do like Malcolm McDowell, if you noticed the common denominator.)


The Way To An Editor's Heart

John Scalzi, guest editor for the just-out 4th issue of SUBTERRANEAN MAGAZINE, bought one of my stories for the issue.

In his intro to "Labyrinth's Heart", Scalzi also mentions that I make "a kick-ass German Chocolate banana bread", a reference to this post from last year, and gives the URL for this blog. So I thought I should post a link to the recipe, in case any SUBTERRANEAN readers wander by as a result of the mention. I'll also post a link in the sidebar.

Hilde At Home

Hilde came home from the rehab facility a few days ago, after only three weeks, rather than the six planned for.

We purchased some medical equipment to make it possible for her to function at home for the remaining weeks of "No Weight-Bearing On That Leg!" that will allow the ankle bones to fuse properly. Besides the hospital bed (which we already had in storage), one of the pieces is called an "E-Z Turn Transfer Disc" by its manufacturer, but which we call the Tilt-A-Whirl (think of a heavy-duty lazy-susan with handlebars), which allows her to get out of bed on the good foot and rotate in place to use her wheelchair or the portable commode.

It's good to have her home. She's been spending a lot of time with Caty (her daytime caregiver) watching DVDs of the old HIGHLANDER tv series and INUYASHA, a Japanese anime series Caty is a fan of. (I'm thinking of making up a t-shirt for Caty with SIT, BOY! emblazoned across the front.)

Now if only the air-conditioning hadn't gone kaput last night.

(This last is actually a good thing. We've had an intermittent problem with the a/c for the last three summers, where the compressor would sometimes stop when the outside temperature got up in the 110-degree range, but (usually) be able to be restarted after a twenty or thirty minute wait, or sometimes restart spontaneously. The half-dozen or so times when we had repair guys out to try and track the problem, the a/c would of course be operating just fine. Then the weather would drop back into lower temperatures, and the problem go away. This latest compressor failure, though, is the first time it's happened at night, during lower temperatures, and we haven't been able to get it restarted. Huzzah, it's completely broken! So finally, once the repair guy gets here later today, we may actually be able to get the problem fixed for good.)