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The Paperless One has a bad day...

September 10, 2000

One day last week, the Paperless One had one of the shittiest days he's had in a LONG TIME!  Lucky you; you get to read about it!

For starters, I took the junior Paperless One to the post office to cash in a few money orders.  The clerk at the counter was about 10 years past retirement age, as I felt we would be by the time we got out of there.  The line was backed up for about three city blocks, and while mere mortals would have fled the coop at the sight of it, we decided to stick it out, if only because we had a whack of money orders to cash in.  Since we've been doing the eBay thing, we've become regulars at the post office, but we had never had the pleasure of having this living fossil of a post office employee serve us before!

What a treat it was, too.  Within 20 minutes, we finally established a "good" place in line , mainly due to customers in front of us walking out after getting fed up with waiting for the oldster behind the counter to process the orders of those at the front of the line.  Joining the crowd of smart people and returning later in the day wasn't a feasible option, as we needed the cash from the whack of money orders to go record shopping with!

So, we stuck it out.  Several minutes later, we were at the front of the line, after a wait that resembled a line for Metallica tickets rather than the post office counter at the local drugstore...damn that Canada Post for franchising its outlets!  By this time, I could smell that the Junior Paperless One's lunch was beginning to take its course, and that he was about to get CRANKY with a capital everything.  Oh well, not to fear - we're at the front of the line and only have a few things to send out - they're all pre-labeled and have the "air mail" and customs stickers affixed already.  Grandpa Munster should be able to process them pretty quickly, and once he cashes the money orders, there will only be one exchange of money - from him to me!

I hand Vincent Price the money orders.  He puts on his bifocals, studies them for about ten minutes, after which, he is finally satisfied that they are genuine United States Postal Service International Money Orders and that he will be able, as an employee of Canada Post (sort of), to cash them.  However, life is not as simple as it usually is.  The routine, which normally goes like this:

bulletI hand the clerk a money order
bulletthe clerk acknowledges that it is indeed a money order and asks me to sign it 
bulletI sign the money order
bulletthe postal clerk stamps the outlet number and punches the money order # into the computer
bulletthe postal clerk hands the Paperless One a wad of cash
bulletthe Paperless One says "thank you"
bulletthe postal clerk has a friendly smile for the Paperless One and the Junior Paperless One

...was a little bit different today!

bulletI hand the clerk the money orders
bulletthe clerk puts on his bifocals and studies the money orders for about ten minutes, doing everything short of what he probably should have done to check their authenticity (that would be holding them up to the light and checking the woven strip and watermark in them)
bulletthe clerk places the money orders on the counter
bulletI begin to sign them
bulletthe clerk demands that I show three pieces of identification
bulletI fumble through my wallet, while balancing the Junior Paperless One, who is screaming his year-and-a-half old head off by this time, as his attention span doesn't account for 30-minute lines at the post office followed by meetings with unfriendly oldsters who cut into diaper changing time!
bulletI find my driver's license and two other pieces of ID for the crusty old clerk and slam them on the counter
bulletthe clerk eyes up the guy in the driver's license and stares at the picture, looks up, stares at me, looks back down, stares at the picture with this look of confusion...hmm, let's see, the guy in the photo has more hair...the guy at the counter has his hair dyed...could it be the same guy...finally, he's convinced that I really am the person named on the money orders, which he's also convinced are real, and takes back the money orders, all signed
bullet "Sorry, but I need your address on them as well", asks the geriatric clerk
bullet"My address is on the front already".  My name and COMPLETE address had been filled out by the senders of all of the money orders...what more could the old guy want other than to waste 30 more minutes of our time and further piss off the growing horde of people behind us in line
bulletsince I refuse to attempt writing my address on these money orders again, while holding a feisty 18-month-old, he takes back my driver's license and writes the number on all of the money orders as though the money from the money orders will be deducted from his paycheque if there is any sort of problem with them
bulletjust to make sure he doesn't reach for the cash just yet, I inform him that I have a few parcels to send out
bullethe continues writing down information regarding the money orders, then offers me this tidbit of wisdom, as it is becoming quite apparent that he's dealing with a group of annoyed people:  "It's just like cashing a cheque", he states.
bullet"No, it's not.  When I cash a cheque, I punch in the value of the cheque, enclose it in an envelope, and insert it in a bank machine.  It doesn't demand five pieces of ID, nor does it waste my time."
bulletPosting the items wasn't much easier.  This took a while, as one of the items was heavy and needed additional customs paperwork due to its immense weight (this has never happened before, but I'm pretty sure that the form was actually just handed to me by the old guy to annoy me even further!) - finally, I scribbled this form out as good as I could, which, ironically enough, needed my address again!
bulletAfter the oldster whistled his fool head off while slowly affixing postage meter stickers to my packages and placed them in the outgoing bin, he proceeded to ring up the total on the cash register.  By this time, I had forgotten that he owed me money, not the other way around.

Finally, we escaped with our money (and sanity) and went record shopping, after a quick stop at the Junior Paperless One's change table!  It was here that our bad day was to continue.

Normally, the Paperless One finds a free place to park the Egulphymobile!  Today, the free spots were all taken, and the Paperless One was finding traffic too busy to get across three lanes within 40 feet to get to the metered spots on the other side of the one-way street.  The logical alternative was to go to the municipal lot and pump an hour's worth of coins into the ticket vending machine.  The Paperless One grabbed a loonie from the dashboard of the Egulphymobile and chucked it in the coin slot.

Ptooey!

Out came the coin.  The Paperless One tried the three quarters and the handful of nickels from his pocket, but they were all rejected like a bad kidney as well.

I went back to the Egulphymobile to grab that elusive two-dollar coin that I saw in my ashtray a few days earlier.  Upon my return to the machine, I am greeted by a woman who is also pissed off that her coins aren't being accepted either.  I look around the area and see no one.  While automatic bank machines have saved the Paperless One from banking's equivalent of my friendly neighbourhood post office staffer, automating parking booths have been a dismal failure.

Why?  It probably has something to do with people bashing the machines late at night while attempting to steal the "booty" out of them.  Within the past four weeks, this is the second automatic booth that refused to accept my money (in two different cities).  After convincing myself that since no one was around to take my money or listen to me complain, no one would question my free parking.

Wrong.  No less than five minutes after entering the record store, a green hornet showed up and ticketed the Egulphymobile!  I discovered that my record shopping excursion, in which I had found nothing of interest, was going to cost me 12 bucks!  

Although the city of (we'll leave the name out of it because they made amends...read on) was too cheap to have humans fixing their parking lot vending machines, there was no shortage of humans to write up tickets to those who couldn't pay for their parking in the first place.

Given the fact that my day was beginning to resemble Michael Douglas' day in the film "Falling Down", I was steaming mad.  I got on my cellphone and called the number on the back of the ticket, asking who I was to speak to about my parking ticket situation.  The clerk said that the ticket was too recent for it to be back in the system and that I should contact "the prosecutor" tomorrow...then she hung up.

Fuck that!  I'm not wasting money on long distance for a bullshit parking ticket that I shouldn't have even received in the first place!  I'm going to city hall today...not making an out-of town trip next week, not wasting money being put on hold by city hall voice mail systems...forget it!  I'm getting this looked after immediately.

Remember the change in my pocket that the vending machine didn't want in the first place?  There just so happened to be a vending machine in the city hall parking lot that DID accept it.  On our way to the traffic department, the Junior Paperless One and I had a chuckle over the irony of having to pay for parking to go dispute a parking ticket, although I don't think he fully appreciated the irony of it at 18 months of age...you never know, though.  This past Hallowe'en, he got the biggest kick out of an ironic window decal of Cookie Monster dressed up for Hallowe'en as, of all things, a cookie!!!

The ticket was quickly taken care of, and we were told not to worry about paying it...because we were from out of town!

Oh well, whatever reason is good by us.  We just hope that the "coin mech" on the ticket vending machine gets fixed before anyone else gets an undeserved ticket, or even worse, pays it!!!

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