All Day at a Desk

mylifetriprptAfter the crazy day racing across Tennessee, only to arrive four hours early for my dance, I needed to get my act together. I turned my full attention to my upcoming stay in NYC, going forward two weeks to AMUUSE camp in Michigan. Distances, days, probable overnight locations. Places to stop, things to see, people to visit, what to eat. I hunkered down for an extra day at my motel in Roanoke to work things out, and wouldn’t get up until my NYC visit was nailed tight.

My old friend Bill had sold his upper west side co-op apartment, but it was in limbo waiting for board approval. He was excited I would get to drop in before he bought his small retirement place somewhere in south jersey. He’d be near the ocean, to allow him easy sailing “everyday”.

My friend Jack’s birthday was this week, and he was planning a big shindig, with people spending the night in his guest room. In the end, it seemed best to blow off visiting him now. I wanted to spend a lot of time with him so we decided I should return to NJ in a second circle after my trip to Michigan. That would give me another pass through Columbus, plus let me pick up Indianapolis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and the entire Poconos in late summer. I may see Bill again somewhere on the shore.

So it came down to the Kitten, my internet nurse friend in NYC, and first attempt at a dating. She had continued to be coy about my visit, especially after I passed by her offer to fly down for a “week-end in Puerto Rico” (what was I thinking?). She was crazy busy, but I insisted that I wanted “just one dinner”. I wouldn’t, I said, drive around NYC without meeting her, then spend the next 4 weeks continuing to woo her, writing daily notes only to show up in August and find we had no “magic”, no “spark”. We needed dinner now, just a few hours together, and if we both felt we connected even in the least, I would gladly spend the next month flirting, planning and conspiring in text and email. August would be fun, but ONLY if we met for dinner this coming week.

I was bouncing back and forth between writing kitten and my various teachers; the rabbit, Chaka, other old friends. They kept encouraging me to “man up, Duncan”. This was all new to me, in concept and in practice. They all repeated: Tell her what you want, tell her what you expect, don’t waffle, don’t equivocate, don’t back down. If you say you are Duncan, a new man (not nerdy timid Dave), stand up and demand what you want. They obliquely added that “Women want this”, by which I think they meant a strong signal of male leadership providing a path to be supportive (not some arrogant self-centered asshole).

So I did. And kitten kept hemming and hawing. She said come to New York and visit your friend, we well meet in August when we both have time. So I wrote back. Look, I wrote, I’m not driving 500 miles to visit an old work buddy, I’m coming to have dinner with YOU. If you won’t make time to see me, that’s OK. I will skip NYC in July and return to see Jack and Bill in August. But I will not visit you in August. I will no longer pursue you either. I will unfriend you in FetLife, remove your numbers from my phone, and delete all of our historical conversations. Dinner, I added, may reveal we have nothing in coming. But not having dinner will guarantee it.

Simply put, I ‘dommed’ her (to rousing cheers from my chorus of mentors), and it worked! Alright, she wrote back, I don’t have any time, but I will make time. Can we eat around 11pm at a 24 hour diner? Of course, I wrote back, breakfast, dinner, coffee in the middle of the night. Whatever works for you, pick, decide, I will be there.

And she said yes.

My other order of business was wrapping up my issue with the IRS from three years previously. I had accepted the debt as part of the divorce, and Lyn took great pleasure in running the opposite direction; first being no help (“Hey, this is your problem”), then fanning flames of worry (“They’re going to seize the condo if you don’t pay this”). I stuck to my guns to keep the divorce amicable; as my son said “WAY beyond amicable”, so I set aside this entire extra day in Roanoke to undo this IRS mess. I had wasted 2 hours on the phone in Detroit, during my conference, and wasted a day in Rockwood. I would resolve this, once and for all, during low priority time, right now.

While I wrote the kitten, and blogged stories, and updated Facebook, and make AB&B room reservations in NYC, I had my phone plugged in and on speaker. I would have to wait 30-60 minutes, then talk to somebody for 15-30. Confusing conversations, reexplaining my situation, asking what I needed to do, how to do it, and when it needed to be done. I was required to bounce up the chain through 4 people so it took almost six full hours. All in all a productive day. I finished with my dinner date, room reservations, a couple blog entries and places to eat and things to see along the way.

I was trying to simply get permission, and understand the procedure, to pay the back taxes, and pay the interest, but request waiver of any fines and penalties. This was often done in cases like mine were I had shown good intention and had never even filed late before. Only because of the crazy reporting mistake by my broker, and now the confusion of the divorce, was I this far behind. This, after a lifetime of filing every February, not even waiting to April 15th.

The last representative was simply evil, and did an old call center trick of trying to antagonize me (after 5 hours on the phone) by saying things like “YOU failed to follow procedure” and “I cannot understand what YOU are TRYING to SAY”, cutting of my speaking and talking over me. Very condescending, very insulting, trying to raise ire, especially one hint of a vulgarity. Instinct is to raise your voice when a person rudely talks over you to talk over them, she was ready to deem this “anger” and “yelling”. This woman obviously had her finger on the “cut off” button, ready to say “I’m not require to listen to you raise your voice / use vulgarity” and hang up before the customer can reply. But I knew this trick, so I was sweet as sugar, using words that were nearly prostrate in their humility. She, while an asshole, could not sense Midwestern sarcasm. “Oh no, ma’am, I am so very very sorry. I completely understand how I’m being difficult for you and appreciate your time with me. I’m very lucky to get your attention in this matter as I am simply lost in what to do next”.

We fenced, back and forth like a tennis match (after my 6 hrs on hold) and spoke less than 2 minutes before, in mid sentence … oops! The call was accidentally cut off. It was one of those amazing technical glitches where the phone system just happens to fail disconnecting an important customer call: me. Now I’d be required to call back, at 4pm, then wait 30 min to ask to be transferred back to her, only to arrive at her phone around, oh, 10 minutes to 5pm. But I had her name, and her employee number, and was going to write a report just as soon as I paid off the bill and requested my waiver.

But I was exhausted so I jumped on the bike and took a spin before the sun set. I was coming down with a cold so I had a simple omelet at Waffle house. I went home, pulled shut the darkening curtains, and went to bed just after 6pm, exhausted.

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