Saturday, January 01, 2011

Yesterday's Laundry

What if nothing exists and we're all in somebody's dream? Or what's worse, what if only that fat guy in the third row exists? - Woody Allen

Central Park West, Last Days of 2010
2011. Who would have thought it. Yet here we all are. And what's more, I am now a member of a generation that is, as some patronizingly put it, "entering into a new window on life, the Third Age".

"You know how there's all sorts of groups," my brother told me a few weeks ago. "Like Asian, Jewish, boys, girls, black, white and so on. Well I always thought you couldn't cross from one to another; you had your "'group'. And I saw 'old people' as one such a group. A group I'd never belong to. And now I'm one of them!"

I feel the same way. Sometimes I try to see the positives of getting older. We are supposed to become wiser, more mature, tolerant and kind. Pop psychologists would have us self actualized, knowing and accepting who we are, understanding ourselves ...

Well Mr Maslow et al, you obviously don't live in New York. It is pretty pretty hard to know oneself in THIS apple.

Dry Cleaner's Laundry Bag 
Take the other day for example, when I dropped by the local dry-cleaners to see why my laundry had not been delivered. Our dry-cleaning is dropped off at the building's lobby in a dry-cleaner-supplied yellow bag. It's then picked up that evening and returned by the dry-cleaner to the lobby once it's ready. Mine hadn't come back, so around day 3 I walked to the dry-cleaners and asked about it.

"Name?" he asked and I gave it. "Very sorry, is no such name," he said. "But I am telling you my name and you have been taking my stuff and charging my credit card for years," I complained. On and on it went. Until I remembered he'd misspelled my name on the tag, and so he'd probably done the same thing when he'd entered it into his computer.

Without my laundry bag I could not recall HOW he'd spelled my name. I tried all sorts of variations while he looked at me pityingly. "You do not know your name," he was saying.

Eventually I got it right. K-A-T-H-E-L-E-E-N. So that's who I was Ms Katheleen. I'd thought I was Kathleen Juliff. Silly me!

It wasn't as if it was the first time I'd had an identity problem. A few months ago I went to a new pharmacy. Before I could get my prescription filled I had to give the pharmacist identifying information, including my date of birth.

When I returned to pick up the prescription, I was asked for my date of birth. I mumbled it back but he couldn't hear. I was forced to shriek it out for the whole pharmacy to hear. "Oh well, who cares," I was thinking, only to hear that I had it wrong. "Sorry," said Mr. Pharmacist, "you got it wrong. It is 1/1/1980." "Clearly it is not," I insisted. "That's what the computer tells me," he answered with an air of triumph. "I suggested he'd mistyped it in, in the first place. But he was not to be convinced. See, I don't even know when I was born, let alone my name.

Several years ago I opened a new account at Chase Bank. The bank manager transcribed my credentials from the form I'd filled in, to the computer. The branch in question happens to be in the same building - same street number and street - as our apartment.

Doorman shoveling snow, December 2010
A week later I received a letter from the bank saying the account was declined as the address was the address of a milliners, and was not an apartment block. A milliner!!!! Obviously they had a very old street directory I hissed. And anyway the branch was at the same address and didn't sell hats.

I showed the letter to the bank manager but he just shrugged. Obviously I didn't know where I lived.

Eventually the bank conceded that my address was my address, but explained that the account was still declined because my Social Security number was incorrect. I took the elevator upstairs and found my blue Social Security Card. The original. I showed it to the manager who checked again. "Incorrect, you'll have to contact Social Security!" was all I could get from him. "The computer has a completely different number in it." I wasn't me after all.

In the end it was sorted out. I was allowed to give the bank my money.

What's WITH these people. What's with ME?

Who am I?

I am Kathleenwng and I approve this message.