Tim Pratt's Journal
2428271 Curiosities served
2006-11-20 6:16 PM
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Today was full of the sort of things that would be funny if they weren't happening to me. (Pratt's first rule of tragedy: "It stops being funny when it starts being you.") I don't normally drive my boss around these days, but today for various reasons I had to do so. It began harmlessly enough. I dropped him off at his appointment, and went to do a couple of errands. First, I had to go pick up a clock for my boss from ye olde clocke repaire shoppe, for which task I'd been given a credit card. I parked as close as I could (two blocks away), walked in, and he asked me if I had my ticket. I'd never heard word one about a ticket, and confessed as much. He asked me what the clock looked like. I didn't know that, either, since I wasn't the one who brought the clock in to be repaired. He told me he couldn't help me. So I called work, and found the person who had the ticket, and got the number from said ticket, and relayed all this info, and the clock was duly found, and presented to me. I offered the credit card, and was told that he didn't accept credit cards, only cash.
So I tramped some blocks to the ATM and withdrew some money and tramped some blocks back and paid cash, and even managed to get a receipt, so I can expense it and get reimbursed, assuming I don't forget to do so, as I usually do. So then I rushed to get the mail, and had no change for the meter, and waited in the loooong post office line and kept one eye on the van out the window, expecting to get a parking ticket at any moment, but amazingly, I got away clean with the mail, and returned to the van, and went to pick up my boss again, with rather perfect timing, actually. He got in the car, and I reached for the credit card to return it to him...
And the credit card was nowhere to be found. Lost, at some point, on my journeys. So I drove him on to his next appointment, where I had to try four times to park the van (a much larger vehicle than I am accustomed to driving) in a tiny space, while a security guard watched me with some amusement. I was already flustered from losing the card and feeling like an ass, and the audience of boss and guard didn't help. I managed to park the car, and turned out my pockets, and crawled around in the back of the van, hoping the credit card had merely been dropped.
Meanwhile, my boss called the office, and discovered the card had been found (apparently just sitting on the sidewalk by the clock shop, sigh, where it must have fallen from my pocket), and called in by some good samaritans. The bank got in touch with the office, and even though my boss wasn't there to talk to the bank directly, my fellow employees managed to get a name and number for the people who had the card. So I called the wife, who directed me to call the husband, who had the card and was still in the vicinity of the clock shop, more or less, though specifically on a highly-trafficked side street with no parking; so it goes. I left my boss to his appointment and drove to meet my samaritans (who called as I approached, so we wound up waving to each other, me in the car, him on the sidewalk, both on our phones), and I just double-parked in the middle of a crowded street, because, hell, whatever. The guy came over. He had the card. I thanked him profusely.
Then he said -- reasonably enough -- something to the effect of "Do you have some kind of ID so I know this is really yours?"
Well, of course I didn't. The card doesn't have my name on it. It's my boss's card. Moreover, I couldn't even call my boss (if that would have helped), because I was holding his cell phone. Oh, despair, how she gripped me.
Then inspiration struck. I rummaged through the heap of mail in the back seat (nearly everydamnpiece of which was addressed simply to "A Certain Magazine" or to various editors thereof) until I found one that had my boss's name on it. I brandished it with a mixture of hopefulness and, um, hopelessness, I suppose, and my samaritan said "Good enough for me."
It occurred to me later I could have also shown him the van's registration.
At the very least I proved that, if I was thief, I'd stolen a lot of stuff, in addition to a credit card.
I managed to drive back without losing the card again, or losing the cell phone, and even parked in one smooth motion, and didn't wreck the car on the way home, and it was okay, I suppose, except for how much it all sucked. And now my boss will give me hell and make fun of me forever, and I kind of deserve it, alas.
Sigh. And this is why it's better for everyone if I sit in the production office of A Certain Magazine and edit things and write obituaries and do layout and leave navigating the real world of clock shops and credit cards and car parking to those better suited to such tasks.
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