Friday, February 05, 2010

Karma...and pasta, and cell phones, and spam filters...

Two possibly unrelated stories, part one:

Wednesday I headed over to Target during my lunch break, though I had gotten up early enough to forage through the fridge there was simply no food in my house to gather for lunch, so I chalked up my 2nd FAIL on lunch resolutions. But learning from my mistake, I used that lunch hour not only to grab a delicious pasta combo from the Pizza Hut kiosk in Target, but also to snap up some groceries to cover the next week.

While eating said pasta, an older couple sat down next to me. I should back up to say that this particular Target is in a sketchy part of town referred to as "Midway" - being midway between Minneapolis & St. Paul, but also apparently midway between sanity and schizophrenia. And erring on the side of nuttiness. One of the last times I was there everyone in Target suddenly raced towards the front glass wall to watch two women engaged in a parking lot smack down. When I was walking out to my car after it had cleared I saw all sorts of ropes and strings on the ground...


They pulled each other's hair out. Egads. And everyone cheered. I would not be surprised if dollar bills were thrown.

So anyways, Midway is never dull. Sort of like live theatre on your lunch break. Yesterday was relatively calm, I thought while gnawing on my breadsticks. Then previously mentioned couple start discussing their purchase of a gift card for cell phone minutes.

"Do you know how to do this?"
"No. Do you know how to do it?"
"I'm doing it."
"Are you doing it?"
"Do you know how to do this?"

I know exactly what to do in these situations: AVOID EYE CONTACT AT ALL COSTS! HEAD IN PASTA, HEAD IN PASTA!


Man is suddenly standing next to me.
"Will you do this?"
He hands me both his cell phone, and his gift card.

I must look trustworthy.
And tech savvy.

For a moment I had a flash of that little devil on your shoulder saying "JUST RUN AWAY! Who hands you an untraceable cell and what is basically cash to load it with? If this was New York I'd just put it in my pocket and leave.

But it isn't. And I had a huge bag of groceries, I wouldn't be escaping very quickly. Sigh.

So I took the phone and the card, and read the directions while the man went and sat back down across the restaurant with his wife. And once it was done, I handed it back and they called her kids. And he said thank you at least 3 times.

Okay, I guess that was a good choice.

Story #2

I returned from an annoying morning of stupid excessive training that didn't even apply to me, so I was in a foul mood and irritated at my lot in life. I've hit my 3 year anniversary in my current job, and nearly 5 years at this company. I was discussing with a coworker my parking situation and wondered if I'd ever make it into one of the lots at our building (I work at an urban university where parking is evil and expensive and slightly political. I've been on one waiting list since I got here 5 years ago and I'm still over 500 people down from the top. Sheesh). Anyways, it spurred me to look up my position on the waiting lists, and I found one had disappeared.

Uh oh.

Had I never been put on this list?

I searched my sent mail to find my registration. Then on a whim I searched my junk mail... uh oh...

Message from Parking & Transportation Services: "Congratulations! You've made it to the top of the must reply within two days to accept this contract."

It had been in my junk mail for three days.

Oh no.

No no no no no.

The parking people hate me. The last time I called their offices was to complain they hadn't gotten one of our guest registrations right, and rather than just fix it, the head of the operation ARGUED WITH ME, VIA EMAIL for 4-5 messages. She told me I had left her voice mail messages that I had not. When I told her that, she insisted. It was insane and unproductive. And since I was holding a grudge, I assumed she was as well.

But I called anyways.

I plead my case.

I tried not to cry.

"I'd be on this list for 2 years, and the message went to my junk mail, and I should have replied 12 hours ago but I just found it, and right now I'm in a student lot where apparently trained monkeys park the cars because they can't for the life of them end up between the lines, or pointing the right way, or taking up only one space..." (caveat: if this is the future of our country, social security is the least of our problems. There is no way this generation can take care us us when we get old, I'm taking my chances on an iceberg.)

"Calm down. It's not over yet."

And then something really strange happened. People were nice to me. Despite having blown the deadline, and having previously engaged in a fairly wicked battle of wits with this office, they allowed me to accept the contract and get into the parking lot directly outside my building. With my new contract, I park 25 steps away from the front doors. Yes, I counted.

Here ends the lesson :)

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