Airports became a frightening place for me at some point; gone were the magical days of running rampant through the terminal getting free food vouchers from tired and stranded passengers or hanging out in the smoking box with the drunk guys and their cigars and finding little booze caches in potted plants… The pleasure of saved flight meals have long since dissipated along with my being eight… I suppose it’s because I never actually flew much and so every time I was in the confines of an air terminal it was unfetted from the processes required to pass through the gate and end up on the right plane…

Not that Greyhound was without its minor tragedies… The bus has always been cheaper and in some ways a richer life experience has been enjoyed en route to anywhere USA stopping every hour and a half for five minutes at rest stops, every couple of hours at truck stops in the middle of God’s Country… Spending the night in Sacramento was bad but not nearly as bad as being bumped off two buses because of scheduling fuckups… Had it been my mom (who had always dutifully saved her in-flight meals for me knowing my stomach was more secure under the threat of poisoning) standing there with a backpack and the threat of a couple more hours waiting there’s no way in hell she would’ve been bumped… She would hem and haw, make rational arguments, speak authoritatively, wave her arms in the air, demand to see some manager and end up with the rest of her trip enjoying free drinks and a free voucher for her next trip… I just shuffled around the wrong line to wrong line and listened as the loud speaker decide that I would not, in fact, meet anyone in Portland…

Despite my penchant for wearing a lot of black and listening to God-awful music I’m not really anti-authority… The revolution will find me hanging out somewhere else thinking everyone’s stupid or an asshole and wondering if I should make popcorn… I actually work best under some form of structure and those most obvious to me are the little rules which define how it’s not their fault when my bus is overbooked and I wait or when they switch gates five minutes before boarding and I missed the single announcement because I was in the bathroom… After weaving my way through the check-out line with my little boarding pass I always, ALWAYS, am convinced that the portion the security checkpoint requires isnot what I received and when I finally get my shoes back on and collect my change I always fret about the terminal convinced that they switched the gate and I’m in the wrong line… But I’m too terrified to look stupid so I never ask the people behind the counter– instead I evesdrop on nearby conversation until I’m satisfied that the people around me, a pox upon them, are who I will be sharing the next several hours of my life among…

If there was a huge divine arrow reaching down from the sky with “here” in neon indicating where I am to stand I will be comfortable, I think… Clearly marked signs are a blessing, maps rule my world, ambiguity causes severe acid build-up in my stomach and finds me nauseated… Anything which requires forms in triplicate and providing pertinant information is something I duck not really because I think corporate America is fucked and I won’t sully myself but because I’m really just concerned that I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing and won’t sully myself…

Suppose you can only hide for so long… In the past month I was the lucky recipient of our power bill as one roommate moved out… She called to cancel and I called to take the flag and for the most part things seemed to go well… After a couple of weeks passed the date of the switch occured and I still had not received any information about the account which was odd to me since they told me I needed to make a deposit… The lights remained on but I still haven’t given anyone any money so I grew concerned… Everyone told me it always takes forever and not to worry and who needs electricity anyways… I can’t live like that…

I call from work one day and sit on hold for fifteen minutes… The process of getting to be on hold involves listening to a recording ask questions which you are to respond to by saying insipid things like, “billing”, “service outages” or other power related topics… My coworkers were polite enough to not take any notice on my frantic whispering… The trick, I’ve discovered, is to just squeeze the life out of the zero button until they put you on hold…

An operator answers and I explain that I’m weirded out by not having received any bills or account information or anything… They look up my account and everything seems to be in order– it just takes up to two billing cycles to have anything mailed out… This rings hollow to me but I try to keep in mind that the person on the other end of the phone is most likely serving time in a minimum security women’s prison and thank her very much… She turns out to be right– a bill with my name incorrectly spelled arrives within a week…

So I wanna pay my deposit and sign up for an online account… Simple enough, I take the steps and fill out the forms and click to finalize the process… PG&E will not recognize my personal information… I check the account number they’ve assigned and re-enter it… Nothing… I remove the dash… The site suggests I include the dash… I re-insert the dash and still nothing… I try to replace the dash using another dash on the keyboard… this does nothing to satisfy PG&E’s website…

I call back and this time hold the zero button until the friendly automated operator offers to put me on hold for the next available female inmate… From previous experience I know that there will be an option for a call-back which guarantees I will not lose my place in the hold line… Being at home and not at work this is an option I don’t believe but am willing to try, mostly because it prolonges my time of not having to speak to anyone… The automated voice tells me I will receive a call in 18-20 minutes… How exciting…

After ten minutes I get a phone call which isn’t from the female inmate but was always expected with some confused anticipated or fear… I explain the situation and promise to call back just as soon as I receive my call-back… She understands and hangs up… I continue to wait for a period of time… I try to read but keep checking the clock… I wonder how I would take someone telling me they were waiting for PG&E to call them back in 18-20 minutes and they’d call me back… Sounds bad…. I check the clock… I smoke a cigarette and get smoke in the house because I’ve left the window open to hear the phone… I check the clock… I return my phone call and make plans…

Coinciding with these exciting events was my trying to sign up for DSL through my online account which I was able to sign up for without experiencing any difficulties… Unfortunately trying to sign up for internet service through my online account– they require my line to be tested by an operator…

So I call the female inmates at AT&T but end up with a polite English guy who tests my line, assures me everything is fine and begrudgingly informs me that I can use the modem I have instead of paying $12.95 for them to ship me a new one which I can recoup the cost of minus shipping by mailing in a refund…

I thank him politely and go smoke another cigarette but this time on the roof so as to avoid the smoke and inside and everything… When I come back I call PG&E once again, hold onto zero and skip the call-back offer… I’m connected immediately with an inmate who looks over my account, changes my name so that it’s correctly spelled and figures out that the reason I couldn’t complete my application for an on-line account is because they never entered my phone number in my account info when I signed up for the fucking thing… She enters it and I thank her politely… I make a sandwhich… The phone rings– it’s my call-back…

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