Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I know in general that it's best to remain calm and pleasant in all situations, but I continually get contradictory results that lead me to believe that is NOT true.

Take today for example.

Let's back up for a minute and give a little context. Back in December I bought an HDDVD player because the man at Best Buy convinced me it was not risky to do so. For those of you not familiar with this battle (similar to beta versus VHS in the 80's) there were two competing HD DVD formats, HDDVD and blu ray. I have never been an early adopter of new technology. I was about 4 years later than everyone i knew getting a cell phone, 2 years out with the ipod, don't have a myspace page - you get the picture. So there I am in need of a DVD player and I am suckered into buying this HDDVD player. I am assured that this is going to be the format that wins the format war. whatever.

No more than 4 weeks later it is announced that blu ray has won and HDDVD is dead. No DVD's will be manufactured in that format any longer, and no more players made. Great. Now I have an obsolete player that is pretty much no better than the cheap-o Mintek player I have used for 6 years with no problems. Plus, it doesn't work well. It takes about 2 minutes just to turn on, and it behaves oddly. I consider returning it, but 1) I am lazy and 2) I just don't need an HD player anyway and 3) I HATE going to Best Buy.

Fast forward to last night when I go to put a disc in and the door just won't open. No amount of paper-clipping helps - no open.

Off I go to best buy. I bring it in to return it. I know that it's been 6 months, but they misled me into buying that piece of crap in the first place and it's broken. They don't make it anymore, so give me something else. So i talk to customer service, then i talk to repairs, basically the only option available is just sending it to get fixed. They don't seem to understand I don't want it anymore. take it back.

So I start griping a little bit. Not a lot, no raised voice, but I'm pretty clear that the solution of getting it repaired is not acceptable. So they send over a manager. He also explains since it's been so long they can't possibly take it back, only repair it. This goes on for a few minutes. So then I move into battle stance. Again, in a calm demeanor yet with biting words I just lay into the company and why I should absolutely be able to return it. I pull out all the stops and every single point I can possibly think of to help my argument and finally he says okay, we'll let you exchange it for something else.

So i wonder - why is it that I needed to full-on argue with this guy before he actually was willing to help me? Why is that necessary? Regardless, it is necessary, so to all of those polite, accepting people out there: know when to be strong and fight for what you believe because it will actually get your further if you do it in the right way. sad, but true.


So I decided that it would be fun to go and surprise my parents now that they have moved out to the west coast. Ashland is only 5.5 hours away, and it's really a nice drive once you get past the Sacramento area. Surprises are hard to pull off though, especially when there are some things to consider like: where do they live exactly? Will there be somewhere for me to sleep since they don't have any of their belongings yet? Will they be home when I arrive?

So, very slyly I began to set the stage as soon as they moved out. Suggesting that maybe they should buy a new guest bed since the futon they decided to bring against my wishes really sucks. Thinking that if they get a guest bed it will be there whenever I may decide to show up. Asking for their mailing address so I could send them a card. That sort of thing.

So I type the address into google maps, and it does not locate it properly. They live on C court and it is showing me C street... bad sign. I know in my gut this is going to put a pretty big crimp in my plans, but I persevere nonetheless. I figure the town of Phoenix, Oregon, population 4060 should have a gas station where I could ask for directions. I mean there are only about 20 streets in the whole town which spans little over one mile in any direction.

So I ask them what they are doing that night, they say staying in, and off I go! The drive up was completely uneventful, if not a bit shocking seeing the mountains *covered* in snow - as low as 3000 feet. In April! Shasta was covered. So I get there right around dinner time, hoping to get some of the dinner myself, and pull into a gas station with my little internet map to ask them where C Court is. I had a hunch it was in an area of the map that was unmarked and was off of C Street - makes sense - no? So this woman corroborates (without my even sharing my hypothesis) that yes, that is where C Court is.

There I am driving down the one main street looking for the road on the right. I find the road before it and the road after it but not C Court. I don't even see a turnoff at all for any street! I drove that 500 foot stretch of road at least 9 times. No kidding. Except there was a trailer park... strange, I thought, that my parents didn't mention they were living in a trailer park. Well, it was a really cheap rental, and they would only be in it for about 6 months or so until their new house was ready, so who knows. Stranger things have happened. I go into the trailer park and no one has heard of C Court. Now I am very perplexed. I left and came back two more times to ask other residents just to make sure. Nope. No C Court.

So I decide to go to the *other* C Street (yes, this tiny town has 2 C streets. Go figure.) and see what courts may be nearby. Nothing. A whole lot of nothing. I asked many people who were walking on the street if they had heard of C Court, to no avail. So finally I give up and decide to call my folks and find out exactly where they are. I call, but no answer. SIGH. Now I am hungry surrounded by yards of barking dogs in Phoenix Oregon. Maybe this wasn't the best idea?

As a last ditch effort I decide to ask one last family walking by. Oh, they say, it's about 3 blocks that way. Needless to say I had gone as far as two blocks in that direction and then turned around. GRRR. So I find it, see the mint green prius in the driveway, and run up to the house where my parents were sitting and eating in the bay window. So they saw my approach but were surprised anyway. Good times!

I had the pleasure of meeting their neighbor Linda a few days later after the big moving truck came to deliver their belongings. She came over around 2pm reeking of alcohol. My parents aren't the most social of folks with strangers, so I think her presence was a bit overwhelming. BUT, she assured my mother they would be fast friends so that was reassuring. I think what she actually said was that they would "bond" for sure. She also wanted to take my mom to her haircutter. I'm pretty sure I needn't describe her hair, or mention that my mom has been getting her hair cut by some curly hair experts in New York City for at least 20 years now. The good news is that the hair cutter also throws amazing parties - and never fear! Linda knows "all of the back roads so we won't get a DUI!". I was sure laughing out loud on the inside when she said that. The idea that my parents would even go to a party let alone drink and drive was just too much.

Now my mom won't garden out front if Linda's car is in the driveway because she's afraid she will come over and talk to her.