My dear friend Joe (from Akron, not Joe Courter) offered to pay for me to travel to Akron Ohio for a movie con the weekend of April 4th through 6th. It was a delightful offer and I became filled with hope and joy in the promise of a lovely adventure… until we both felt our daydreams shattered by encounters with “THEM.”
Damn Them, for they are everywhere, like seemingly well organized bands of trolls composed entirely of bullshit held together by thick gooey strands of regulations and restrictions.
I had the courage to take the long road trip from Florida to Ohio all by myself. I had cleared the decks of other obligations, commitments and deadlines, had made the time and was doing all the numerous things I needed to do to make this happen.
Then we hit obstacle one. They told Joe he could rent a car with his credit card and I could pick it up and be on my way. But they told him I had to have a credit or debit card. Well, for a start I don’t want a credit card. I have lived without one for quite some time now, thank you very much. I haven’t had a bank account in years, either, but was going to get one after I finished working some magic in my own life that would have been completed on April 14th.
So, ‘screw it’ I thought, I’ll just open a bank account now ahead of schedule and get the damn car rented.
Obstacle two: the first bank absolutely positively would not allow me to open an account because I had not yet gotten my Florida driver’s license. I had made the mistake of telling them I had been here for a while, they said I had been here too long to be allowed to open an account with that license. OK, go to hell, I’ll go to the next bank and tell them I just got here and need to open an account. I was learning how to lie to work this abusive system.
So I go to the next bank and they want to do a credit check. Christ, I’m not asking for a loan, I’m trying to open an account to put money IN! My credit has been destroyed by the housing market. I had no other outstanding debts, but had managed to end up so upside down on my mortgage that I had to allow my home to be foreclosed on and I declared bankruptcy as I could not manage a home I owed $56,000 on that would no longer sell for any more than $20,000… not in the ghettos of Akron Ohio. Well, this bank employee spoke to management on my behalf, seeing that I had been anything but financially reckless and that the housing market was in fact the sole cause of my fall from financial grace.
I go home, call Joe, tell him I have a debit card and he goes to make the reservation. Well, suddenly now that I have a debit card, they all decide in unison, Avis, Enterprise, Budget and their cohorts will not allow Joe to rent a car as a gift for me. Obstacle 3 has now been fully engaged in.
We decide to put the car on my new debit card, so Joe wire transfers $800 to my account so I can get the car, pay for a hotel, and gasoline and we will be on my way.
I start calling auto rental places, and along came obstacle 4. The first one would not allow me to take the car out of state. The second place transferred my call to India, and after the fifth attempt to get their well treated and fairly paid employee to understand my name I hung up. I mean, really, if we can’t get as far as my name how are we going to manage the rigors of reserving a car? The next place told me I was not allowed to rent a car on a debit card. So finally I called another auto rental place and They told me they would have to run a credit check. OK, at this point I’m certain you remember how my credit looks. I explained my credit to them, wanting to know, whether or not I would get the car the day I went to pick it up or not. I was not going to go through the ordeal of reserving the car, making plans, prepping for the trip, and packing only to be denied at the counter. Of course, as this person was from Malaysia (also fairly paid with benefits, no doubt) they had no clue. I began picturing Them as grinning trolls with flaming hoops and myself as a tiny quivering poodle on a choke chain.
Sweating, sick, heartbroken, angry beyond all reason, I stopped. This was now OVER.
Here’s the thing, I was not going to let Avis, Hertz, or any other conglomeration of trolls make the decision for me, I was deciding. No, enough was enough. And add to this that for the past 2 weeks while we had been discussing this little adventure and working to make it happen I have been working tirelessly on a deadline, going to meetings, teaching, working working working to get everything done and done so I could go. I was exhausted, and to make matters worse, I was engaging in all of this madness still had no certainty as to whether or not this was even going to happen. I had decided in that moment that I was not going to be able to live in that uncertainty for another hour, day, or two more days. I needed to know once and for all, was I going or was I not going.
I was not going. I took the power from them. I decided.
Exhausted as I was, heartbroken as I was that I was not going to get to enjoy time with my dearest friend in the world (who I have not seen in over a year), sad and crushed as I was that all the work I (and we) had done to get this to happen, I felt all the same an enormous relief. There was no more uncertainty. I was NOT going. I was not jumping through one more fucking hoop. I, the quivering poodle, turned my back, stepped out of the choke chain and left that grinning troll to stand there shaking the hoop, a dumfounded look on his face.
And I began to think… this is the world we have created. This is the world we live in. Why do we put up with this? Is this the world you want to live in, a world where “customer service” means the customer jumps through hoops and performs endless tasks and endures numerous ordeals to please the gatekeepers of banks and rental car places? Why have we allowed this perversion to persist, to come to this? It’s madness, we are now working entirely for “Them” at every turn.
Well, fuck Them.
This is why I have largely turned on, tuned in, and dropped out, this is why I have renounced ordinary society and have followed my own path. Fuck ’em, just plain fuck ’em.
Now, I sit here heartbroken at home, and I ain’t goin’ nowhere no how.