So, I go the entire day feeling pretty much like I no longer suffer from whatever bizarre disease du jour has been sweeping the nation, only to cough so hard to as to make myself dizzy. This is problematic, as it hit me about halfway to San Francisco (Roni's, of course!) whilst driving 101 at the limit. It seems to have died down now.
I had just left the Voracious Wireless store trying to make some sense out of the idiocy they call "pricing" on their phones. Call me naive, but why do these guys insist on posting prices in a manner that would make used car salesmen blush, stammer, and turn away in shame? Trying to get clarification only made it worse:
I want that new color motorola phone. Now, if you spot the price from across the room, it says "$79.00*", an amazing low price. However, being hip to the small print shenanigans, I get a good look at the tag to find out what the asterisk is for. The 79 bucks is apparently tied to a two year service agreement, at least if you look at the right side of the tag. Yet, on the OTHER side of the tag is another asterisk, which seems to make the price asterisk do double duty somehow. It calmly explains that the actual cost is 179.00...the 79.00 is the "final cost" after the mail-in rebate. With me so far?
Yes, there IS more. I signed up with Vizieron two years ago under that plan that pops a hundred bucks toward the purchase of the next phone. This is the part I tried (and failed) to get clarified, thusly:
"So, if I understand this, my final cost, IF I go with the two year agreement [I planned on it, btw], is 79 bucks after the rebate."
"So, if I sign up for the two years, apply my 100 bucks I earned from the last plan, and send in the rebate, doesn't that mean I come out ahead 21 bucks?"
"Oh no, it's still $79."
(brief pause as I parse this)
"Okay, I'm a bit confused. So, if I do this and don't use the 100 bucks, my out of pocket is 79 bucks after the rebate. If I do use the 100 bucks, I still wind up paying 79 bucks out of pocket?"
"Uh...that doesn't make any sense."
"Well, maybe you're just seeing the glass half empty..."
At that point I thought "screw this" and left. It was obvious I a) was dealing with a drone (big shock) and b) wasn't asking the right question. Roni was kind enough to help me later, and I realized that the fool was probably thinking like this:
Phone with two year agreement = 179
Minus rebate (mail in) = 79
Same phone, same two years = 179
Minus 100 dollar credit = 79
79 = 79. Ta da!
Of course, it completely forgets that I'm STILL due the rebate, which I think is a manufacturer thing...unless the bastards have decided you can't use the hundred AND use the rebate at the same time. I'm not sure how they can keep you from doing so...this is a credit, and not an "offer" that you can't combine. But this is a cell phone company, and those high rates and sneaky charges go a long way to pay off those attorneys who come up with those sneaky agreements.
So, the REAL question is: Do I get the rebate AND the credit, for a total "savings" (I know, it's an illusion) of 200 bucks?
Well, if you've put up with my cell phone kvetch this far, here's an important caveat that I learned while waiting for my little meeting of the minds (however imbalanced that meeting might be). Vericorp has this plan that trumpets "Unlimited Nights and Weekends! 1000 anytime minutes! 1000 mobile to mobile minutes! aren't we so COOL!" Those mobile-to-mobile minutes were of interest to me, as both lovingstones and lavendersage are on Verbatim cell phones these days, and I think "Wow, that would be SO handy with all those calls to and from Audra!"
Well, amongst the fine print on the brochure was this rather annoying tidbit -- mobile to mobile minutes are accrued even if you call the mobile phone user during a night or weekend. So, if I use up 1000 minutes (which is, admittedly, a lot of minutes (over 16 hours worth), but not impossible to imagine if you have some seriously long talks with people you really care about, and then call them during the day after my OTHER 16 hours of anytime minutes are used up (we're talking 30 minutes of talking, every day, between the hours of 7am and 7pm, thereabouts)... oh, okay, maybe I'm being nitpicky. But it seems so damn CHEAP of them, especially since minutes I use MAKING a mobile to mobile call are also charged against the person RECEIVING the call (never thought about that, didn't ya?).
So, Mom sends me an e-mail about a week ago, being all supportive in my endeavors and/or job search, and (in that way that only your mother can) drops this one-liner at the end: "By the way, Denise is pregnant". Denise is my sister. The one who's supposedly the most like me.
Well, we DO have the same nose.
So I send back a calm note (yeah right), but was so impatient I called her Tuesday to find out what the hell was going on. Apparently his name is Yousef (the father, not the baby...sex is still indeterminate there) and no, they weren't married (which is another reason my mind melted at the news) and didn't have plans to. Then she says "Oh, and before you ask... yes, he's black".
Okay, before the PC police start in, cut my mom some slack: She was raised in a white neighborhood in queens. She moved to a mostly white area of long island. We're talking so white, I didn't even MEET a black family until I was *11*. Ironically, it only made the whole racial prejudice thing all the more bizarre to me -- I honestly didn't understand what skin color had to do with ANYTHING.
However, later on we wound up in a pretty rough neighborhood, and I think my Mom got a bit jaded. I tried to squash it when I was older, but she had developed that "us vs. them" polarization in her thinking that can happen to anyone. It's insidious, and don't think it can't happen to you. All forms of such thinking stem from a feeling of helplessness, and if you can't come up with a REAL reason (or are afraid of whatever that reality is), you'll find anything -- sexual, racial, religious, even political affiliation -- that can give your frustration voice. Goddess save us if the fault lies within the self, because those are often the worst bigots of all.
At the same time my mother would always cut INDIVIDUALS all the slack in the world. It was a dichotomy only someone with ADHD could conceive, a curious contradiction. Whereas most who would judge based on a grouping refuse to see members of that group as individuals separate from it, to my mother it was as if the group was a separate entity, something to be angry about, even as she interacted with people who were a part of it. It's difficult to explain, and no, I DON'T condone it.
I have to admit to being amused by my sister, once again, showing her similarity to myself by being the renegade. When my mom made her "shocking" revelation, my instant response was "I wasn't going to ask, Mom... it goes without saying that Denise likes dark meat, and has for quite some time." I admit it, I was trying to get a rise out of her. I'm STILL annoyed about the now infamous incident when I was working at SuperMac... but that's another story.
I received an odd phone call from ambar tonight. Garbled and noisy, the phone rings at almost 1 AM (panic mode! Emergency! Someone's in trouble/died/having a crisis!), and asks... at least, I THINK this is what she asked... for my help with her cats. She raises them. Breeds them, actually. She has a room dedicated to the task, and I think she wanted some moral support in getting it clean. Or something. I asked her to send an e-mail, but assured her that I would be happy to help (I've been around cats for a LONG time, and can safely say I'm a cat person... such tasks do NOT make me fearful. A little vicks vaporub under the nose does wonders, too), made comforting noises as best I could, and then fretted about it after I hung up. This is SO not like her. I'm sure it was just a crappy connection.
Seems to be the night for it, too: My friend Kim in Watsonville was in a bit of a tizzy tonight as well (though for good reason -- too complex to go into here).