Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Boots... or "Why Erin Rules the World" Part 1

What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?

ME!

So yesterday--first day of grad school--I get myself all gussied up and drive downtown in hot pursuit of my scholastic future. But first thing's first: parking.

As I circle lot after lot in the tri-state area that is GSU's campus, I begin to realize that while an MA is an attainable goal, a parking space, apparently, is NOT.

Countless minutes and miles into my 'can I please FOR THE LOVE OF GOD get to school' adventure, I spot what I at first fear to be a mirage: "Waaaait...could that be a..." And then, on approaching: "IT IS! Allah be praised, IT'S A PARKING SPACE!"

Beaming through my afore-mentioned 'gussy,' I whip into the parking space--space #2 in the Lanier Lot off of Peachtree Center Ave. When pulling in, I notice a large, white sign that reads (loosely translated) "Pay to park in this Lanier Lot, Heathen, or your ass will be towed post haste!"

I also notice a sign in front of my space: "Reserved for (context) customers only."

Now I know what 'context' means (just not in this context?) and I know what parentheses mean. So I look around to see if I can see any building within the vicinity that includes an establishment of any type called "context" (or, as it was,'context' SMALL 'c' in parentheses.) There is none. Nada. Nyet on the (context).

Noting that there is no such establishment, I assume that the sign means that this parking space is reserved for Lanier Lot patrons (of which I am one), so I go and pay the electronic meter.

At this juncture I find it important to note that, when prompted to pay the fee for parking space #2, the machine ever-so-sweetly issued me a pass for said space. Not a WARNING...a PASS--which I then placed in my window and then went about my merry, gussy way.

Class was a veritable cornucopia of 'film speak,' with the merits of such adaptations as "Gone With the Wind," "Harry Potter" and "Mildred Pierce" bandied about. Bliss. Until I went to the library to get my books for the required reading. (Note: 'The Silence of the Lambs' must be read by Monday. It's 300 pages. I have no book. Which likely tells you volumes about my experience at the GSU library. But I digress. This is not a story of epic loss. This is, after all, the tale of my epic triumph. Remember: 'irresistible force/immovable object.')

Anyway, I finally make it back to my car, admittedly crestfallen at the Medieval Mess that was GSU's bookstore, when, much to my surprise, I see my red Audi A4 sporting a shiny new pair of lemon yellow boots!

Boots, you say?

Usually moved to glee by the mere prospect of new boots, I found that somehow these boots--and the ostentatious orange sticker that accompanied them--turned my stomach in a more, shall we say, 'unholy anger' way.

Think Incredible Hulk. With better pants.

I mean What. The. Fuck.
I PAID for this parking space!
Didn't these obnoxiously foul, boot-wielding imbeciles see the clearly displayed tag in my front dash?

Incensed, I dial the number on the sticker from hell and feign southern charm when the woman on the other end answers the line.

"Excuse me, ma'am," I say, literally oozing honey-coated venom, "But I fear there has been some mistake. You see, I paid to park here. I simply cannot understand why a paying customer would be booted..."

"I am not sure. Let me call it in for you. A representative should be arriving within the next 20 minutes ma'am, and he should be able to clear this up."

"Thaaaaank you sooooo much."

Seethe. In the hot sun. 90+ degrees. For 23 minutes and 42 seconds. Gussy all gone. Rage in its place.

Suddenly, I spot a pair of amiable-looking (if dim-witted) blokes in Lanier shirts. Aha! Officials! We shall get to the bottom of this mess!

At my approach, the gents smile and greet me.
Fortuitous.
But as I ask them about the boots, I see their simple faces fall.
Seems Lanier operates the lot, but the Boot Masters are of a different ilk. I shall have to continue to wait. And roast alive. From the inside and the outside.

**Marvel or DC, if you're out there and you're reading, this could be one kick ass super power. I'm just saying...**

Anyway, as my flesh begins to audibly sizzle, another man squeals in to the lot. This one, I see, has the tools to end my suffering.

But not the desire.

Apparently.

Southern charm button ON: "Excuuuse me, sir? Yes. Hi. I fear there has been some grave form of injustice exercised here. You see, I paid for my space, as this pass (show pass) clearly states. So if you wouldn't mind just removing these boots now..."

"This space is reserved."

"Pardon me?"

"This space is reserved."

"For who?"

"Context."

"Is that a grammar joke?"

"What?"

"Context...is that a grammar jo..."

"It's a store."

"A store?"

"Yes ma'am. It's a store. And this space is reserved for that store."

"Uh huh. I see. So where, pray tell, might this 'context store' be?"

"Turn the corner and it's up two blocks."

"Uhhhh huhhhh..."

Houston ,we have a stand off.

"So, sir, what you are telling me is that this space--which is a space that I paid Lanier for in a Lanier Lot with a Lanier tag which was printed by a Lanier machine, is actually reserved for a store that I cannot see from this location?"

"Yes ma'am."

"Riiiiiight..."

I walk to the great, white sign. I point for emphasis.

"This sign says this is a Lanier Lot and that I am to pay Lanier to park here."

"Yes ma'am, but the sign in front of your car says 'reserved for (context)'."

"Ok, seriously Big Guy, do you even know what context means? It means...oh nevermind."

I try again.

"What about this sign over here?," I ask, pointing to a green sign in the same lot that also says I am to pay Lanier. "And this one here? In fact, I count SIX SIGNS in this lot that say to pay Lanier. Which I did. So WHY, I ask you, have I been booted?"

"Because THIS space is reserved."

"Ahem?"

"This space is reserved."

"So, despite the presence of SIX signs that read to the contrary, this ONE sign that says "reserved for an invisible business" trumps all the other signs?"

"Yes ma'am."

"And it also trumps the fact that the Lanier machine accepted my money to pay for a parking space that Lanier properties doesn't even own?"

"Yes ma'am."

"Let me speak to your manager."

"Sure. His contact information is on the receipt. You have to pay the $75 fine to receive the receipt."

"$75 fine!?!?!?!"

Then there was an explosion and the earth blew up.
Or I had an aneurysm.
In retrospect, I cannot be sure which truly occurred.
All I know is that this poor schmo had NO IDEA what hit him.

Did I tell him I was a reporter and planned to follow up with both his supervisors and the BBB? Yes I did.
Did I tell him that I was SURE his employer was in deep in the signage law racket and that I refused to be a victim to either him or his mafioso pals? Most assuredly.
Did I threaten to call the cops on him and his cronies for their obviously illegal--not to mention morally reprehensible--business practices? You bet your purple Hulk pants I did!

I threw my credit card, ninja star style, at my bewildered foe who, by this time was literally cowering by my tire, and dialed my phone like the key pad had done me an unspeakable injustice. I would have my vengeance. Oh yes! Because, when ERIN GREER PAYS FOR A PARKING SPACE, ERIN GREER GETS A PARKING SPACE and no entity between Heaven and Happy Hell is going to stand in the way of that God-given truth.

Ten minutes and countless phone calls and threatening messages later I was on the road...sounds of the impending apocalypse buzzing in my ears. Who would be the first to return my call and feel the righteous wrath emanating from my lips of justice?

Turns out, it was this guy named Micah.

Armed with the sword of truth and anger the levels of which have more than once produced a Eunich, I began my tale...intricately weaving for young Micah the sordid details of Lanier's misdeed and the irreconcilable damages which had been done to myself, as well as the destitute and poor of spirit here in Atlanta, Georgia.

"How can you justify," I asked him, "reserving spaces in already reserved lots? Surely there are LAWS prohibiting double reservations? Surely, an upright and just society WILL NOT STAND for reserved reserved parking! This is an OUTRAGE! A tresspass of this nature WILL NOT STAND, good Micah! NOT WHILE THERE IS BREATH LEFT IN MY BODY!"

"Um, ma'am?...Unfortunately, we at Lanier do not do the towing. That's contracted out. You may take it up with the towing company, but I sincerely doubt they will refund your $75, as they will claim they are within their legal rights."

"Micah, I SWEAR BEFORE DAGGOTH THAT I..."

"What I can do for you ma'am is offer you your $3 parking fee back."

"WILL RIP YOUR...wait...what was that?"

"I am sorry you had such a negative experience, and I will refund you your $3 parking fee."

Dead.
Silence.

And then--a sound more disturbing than any I have uttered over the scope of this David vs. Goliath war with the GSU parking mob--

"Oh. My. God...YESSSSSSS! I WIN! I WIN! I WIN!I WIN! Take THAT you reserved reserved parking, double booting, orange tag sticking mother fuckers! I have WON! THREE WHOLE DOLLARS!!!"

Fear not good citizens of Earth! Your heroine is here in heels and a sundress, receiving $3 in recompense for war crimes and handing out a heaping helping of justice!

Irresistible force, meet IMMOVABLE OBJECT--Me! Me! Meeeeeee!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Livid

Seems here lately I have been wishing on a star that I will go to bed one night a woman and wake up the next morning a bank.
Specifically...I want a bail out...

I just got off the phone with the Gwinnett County tax department.

And I am pissed.

Seems I am being taxed on my home's value from 2007--BEFORE THE CRASH OF THE HOUSING MARKET.

So my annual taxes on this place continue to INCREASE, despite the fact that my home is now worth 1/3 OF IT'S 2007 VALUE.

That's right folks. I am paying taxes on an $80,000 property when my home is currently on the market for 20,000 bucks. Let me reiterate--taxes on $80,000; net worth only $20,000.

I am about to stage a fucking revolt.

"So what can be done about it?", you ask. Surely the county can provide a reassessment of the property and tax it at its current value? Surely that's what's JUST and RIGHT, especially in an economy where damn near everyone is struggling?

Ummm...no.

Why not? Because apparently home values for tax purposes are only assessed every 5 years. No ifs, ands or buts. So for those of us initially evaluated less than 5 years ago? Looks like we're up the creek, now where's that damned paddle...

According to Mr. I-Don't-Give-A-Damn-About-Your-Plight on the phone, this 5 year assessment policy will change next year. As of next year, properties will be appraised annually.

Sucks for me.

And for you too.

Because as we continue to struggle, and I continue wishing on Polaris that my name was Wells Fucking Fargo, no one is coming to bat for us. No silver tongued orator is taking up our cause with Congress. No activist is organizing the bus boycott. No caped super hero disguised as a regular bloke is currently making a quick change in a phone booth.

Instead, we are sitting in the audience, watching...expecting Oprah Winfrey to come out to film her "Favorite things" episode, when it's much more likely that Maury Povich will enter from behind the curtain.

As I sit, seething, I feel utterly exhausted.
I confess the largest part of me wants to give in, give up and hoist a white flag.

My spirit, however, refuses to go gently into that good night. (Henceforth, my spirit shall operate under the pseudonym 'Dylan Thomas'...To all my 'literary' readers, you are welcome...)

"Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light..."

You see, tired as we are, we can't give up. We just can't. It's not our destiny. It's not our shared American heritage. It's not our way.

I know so many people out there are struggling, wondering when this drought is going to end. I confess, I do not know. But I do not that it will not end if we continue to go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light... or maybe just at the bastards that prepare your tax bill...

Isaiah 6:8

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Rant from a Mouthpeice

I just received my writing assignment for October.
Food allergies.
Food.
Allergies.

TRY not to wet yourself with untoward ado.

First of all, let me say, I am THANKFUL for my job. (Enough so, apparently, to write of my gratitude IN ALL CAPS). I love to write. I love being given the opportunity. And I love receiving a paycheck for it. But that said, I can't help but wonder:

Is this all that I have to offer the world? A series of 1,000 word pieces (which, incidentally, always run long) on common-place maladies in upper-middle class homes?

~~ Quick! Someone call the financially-stable, overly-Botoxed, conservative Republican housewives and tell them to allergy proof their homes IMMEDIATELY, lest little Aiden and Ella develop an unseasonal sniffle! We can't have them contaminating the other children at St. Ignatious' Aryan Private School for the Pretentious and Smug.~~

Is this honestly the legacy I am building?
If so, I think I may need a costly and time-consuming recount. Florida style. 'Cause I'm pretty sure that somewhere along the way I developed a problem with my hanging chads.

Chads. Dangly bits. Tiny tears in papers that are supposed to stand for something...
I am pretty sure there is some deep, earth-shattering analogy there, but I am too out of practice at transposing my own thoughts to articulate what it is. So I will leave it up to your interpretation and suffice to say this--

I think I have more to say than "this is a list of common food allergies."

Offhand, I don't know what it is I have to say, but I do know it's profound.
(It has to be. Why else would I have this uncanny command of adverbs?)

Until I can figure it out, I will likely bury myself in a crossword or take the dog on an unnecessarily long walk. Perhaps I will make myself some food. But nothing with cheese. I am allergic.