Friday, May 28, 2010

Chicago, Chicago

Could anything be more indicative of a slight but general insanity than the aspect of the crowd on the streets of Chicago? - Charles Horton Cooley "Human Nature and the Social Order" 1902

Went to Chicago last week. I was surprised. I'd imagined a slick, dark city that was sort of a shadow of New York.

Not so. Chicago is like my home town. "Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, The World, The Solar System, The Galaxy, The Universe", as we used to say in grade 3.

With a difference. Look at the photo on the left. Positively forties. I didn't manage to capture the U.S. naval  soldiers who were there, dressed all in white with those little white caps. But the girls in the photo should give you an idea of ... CHICAGO. Melbourne Australia is anything but forties. Thirties maybe ...

Still, wandering around Chicago was like wandering around my home town of Melbourne - with everything mirrored. The only difference was in the rivers; but even with the rivers there were similarities. Both rivers did a reverse take.

Over one hundred years ago Chicago reversed the flow of the Chicago River from going INTO Lake Michigan to going OUT of Lake Michigan. A vertical reverse, so to speak, as he Chicago River is now two feet below Lake Michigan. The Melbourne Yarra, on the other hand, has the mud on the top. A lateral reverse.

We didn't have a lot of spare time. Stayed in Chicago a couple of days.

Chicago was nice, but when duty called it was back to New York.

Still, away and on vacation for only a few days, it was enough to free me from the inevitable daily tribulations of transactions.

An old boyfriend of mine used to say that the less "transactions" you did, the more pleasant your life would be. And I suspect he was right. As soon as you actually DO anything in this world, your life is fraught with danger.

You buy an airline ticket, for example. Something goes wrong and then  it is ten hours on hold to the airline's customer service, and THIS only after having to listen to a robot voice asking you if you speak Spanish and to please say your frequent flyer number.

Better to go nowhere. Buy nothing. Hide. And then, sans transactions there may be peace.

However I was back in New York and I'd forgotten the old boyfriend. After all, sanity is high on my list of priorities.

Once unpacked and settled in the apartment, I remembered that I had a $25 gift voucher from Bloomingdales. A couple of months ago I had bought clothes and had been rewarded with a $25 voucher. Where had I put it? I had no idea. I searched the apartment but the two rooms yielded nothing.

The results of a transaction had been lost.

Where was it? I had searched high and low. Laterally and vertically.

Nope, nothing to be seen. I must have accidentally thrown it out.

I called Bloomingdales and screeched at robot for several hours. After pressing "1" a hundred times and saying "representative" a million times, I got a HUMAN.

Well, I THOUGHT it was a human...

I explained.

"Oh," he said. "You have lost your voucher. This is not a problem. We can issue you another. Please tell me the voucher number which is just under your address on the right-hand side of your voucher."

"I don't have it," I explained. "I LOST the voucher and that is why I am calling you!@!!"

"I understand," said the pretend human.

I was starting to wish I had the robot back. Even a Spanish speaking one!. "But we cannot issue a new voucher unless we have the number," Jason (it was BOUND to be a Jason) was saying.

"OK," I said. "Please answer me this. Why would anyone call Bloomingdales to get a replacement voucher if they already had a voucher?"

"I can only repeat," said Jason. Or was it the robot? "Look at the top right of your voucher and tell me your number and we will be happy to replace your voucher."

"I give up."

I gave up.

I will remain voucherless.

And I will follow Jason's parting reply and, "have a nice day.".

1 comment:

Jaded NYer said...

If you do find your voucher, it will be in the last place you looked.

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