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Snip, the Hero. And, Mum goes Bankrupt. Again. - Diary of a Necromancer
Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense, you're just not keeping up
Snip, the Hero. And, Mum goes Bankrupt. Again.
Mum decided that bankruptcy was the only viable resolution to her long-running battle with the IRS; her hearing whatdoyoucallit thing (the part where you sit in front of the trustee judge guy and swear-or-affirm that the paperwork accurately reflects your situation) was this afternoon at two. I went along for moral support, and to get out of the house, since the roster of creepycrawlies is beginning to get to me again. (I had just about got to the point where I could turn some of the lights off to sleep...)

I brought my crochet, since it doesn't require very much concentration, and a book, just in case Homeland Security took the crochet away on me like they did when I had jury duty last April. (What kind of damage one could do with a size H aluminum hook that one couldn't wreak equally efficiently with the ballpoint pen they blithely let through, is beyond me, but there you go, crochet is a security risk.) In the event, the security at the posh building on Monroe where the trustees' office is didn't even check my bag, go figure. Time spent waiting for appointment, 15 minutes, time in appointment, 5 minutes. The trustee apparently thought it was Bloody Typical that after ten years of paying off a $7,000 tax liability from an un-rolled-over IRA account, to the tune of $43,000 towards the accumulated penalties&interest, Mum now owed the IRS $16,000 ; evidently this sort of New Math is fairly typical of the IRS and they get this reason on the bankruptcy petitions all the time. This is half of why the Family Finances have been chronically screwed up; the other half is that the IRA originally got drawn down to patch over a gap in income when Mum got sucked into a bad business deal back in 1990 or so and had to go bankrupt then to get out from under a business lease that her nefarious Former Friends had gotten her to sign onto personally. (In my darker moments I often reflect that my Mum's purpose in life seems to be to be the person everybody else gets to screw over...) Timing-wise, this earlier bankruptcy has a lot to do with my own messed-up life: it's why I couldn't swing the last 3/4 year of college, and it's why I ended up having to move with her for want of having the backup to stay in Chicago and try to get myself launched onto a Normal Life Path. And that move is what wrecked my health... but that's a rant for another time.

Since Mum had to produce ID, it came up that somewhere along the line she'd lost her Social Security card. (She's been using the 'keep this stub for your records' stub since at least since we got back to this area, which is six years now.) Her lawyer-person mentioned that the Soc.Sec. office was right down the street and it would be a Good Idea, and a matter of a few minutes, to get a replacement card...

Now, the Social Security office is in a federal building. With federal building security measures circa post-9/11/2001. IE, metal detectors. I was carrying on my person the selfsame purple Size H Implement Of Mass Destruction that the guards at the county courthouse had impounded in April, as well as a pair of blunt-tipped kiddie scissors which I tethered securely to the crochet bag when I was finishing it off since I so rarely have cause to hang about in federal buildings, and on top of that I was carrying, as always, my keychain Flash drive which geeky instinct says would not be particularly compatible with the mystic powers of a metal detector. So, on the theory that a matter as simple as a replacement card could probably be over and done with by the time I got myself explained to the Security drones, she went up to the Soc.Sec. office and I settled down to prop up a column in the lobby, to wait.

And I waited.

And I waited.

And I pulled out the crochet after some twenty minutes, and I waited.

And I crocheted as I waited.

And I crocheted some more. And waited.

By 3:40 I was getting worried as well as pissed, since instinct whispered that fed.bureaucrats generally like to skiv off at 4. I resigned myself to a Lengthy Explanation and went to crash the security station. They explained that yes, indeed, the office closed at 4 and that the related Bureaucrats generally started tossing people out at 4:30. I huffed and puffed about the scissors in my bag -- no, you can't leave the bag here, maybe you could leave the scissors -- they're ATTATCHED, maybe I could page her or something? -- etc. Eventually I got them sufficiently flustered with the explanation of the Flash drive and why I had to hand it round the metal scanner that they gave up and let me in, scissors and all. (I wonder what the 2-inch-square panels of magnets sewn into the crochet bag looked like on the x-ray machine... or did to it.)

Mum was slumped despondently in a chair in the waiting room, #105 and the queue was at #102. I left the bag with her and went to the can (which was my real concern by that point) and then settled in to crochet and wait some more.

And wait...

They locked the office doors at 4. Some ten minutes later they finally called #105. Time spent in office actually doing the task that had had us both waiting from 2:20ish to well after 4 PM?

Two minutes.

I gather that the reason she had chosen to wait rather than simply mail in the forms was that she'd have had to entrust the surviving stub to the dubious care of the Post Office, which I agree isn't the best of ideas for a piece of paper that important to our bureaucracy (especially since she's a year and 3/4 or so away from retirement and this would be an exceptionally bad juncture to suffer an identity theft at). Still, a two-hour wait for a two-minute task seems like an awfully bad job of triaging on the part of the bureaucrats, even for bureaucrats...

It was nearly dark when we got home on the L, intending to go back out to get something to eat since we had both been led-on and cruelly disappointed by a large poster of a strawberry waffle on somebody's then-unavailable breakfast menu all the way back on the way to the first appointment. I walked in, turned on some lights, started to set my crochet bag down --

-- and spotted the furry rodent corpse on the floor in the path of my bag. I blinked, and set the bag down elsewhere, and went to get a baggie and a tissue: the body was spoon-sized, but did that tail look naked? Where's the loupe -- no, definitely fur on that tail; what we have here, instead of our ongoing dread of Rattus norvegicus, is a relatively benign Mus musculus, mute testament to one or other of our cats' having actually looked at the original job description. Since Snip had been running about and staring at walls in that vicinity for far too long the previous evening, she's getting most of the credit for the kill.

Since the landlord or agents of same will be on hand tomorrow to hand out new keys to the front door (and one can only hope, to the back door that no one's been able to work for a year now, as well), the body went to spend the night in our evidence locker, AKA the freezer, to be presented in the morning to the parties allegedly responsible for our building's pest-control program. (Which they need to get up-to-date with: on our way back in from our Quest For Strawberry Waffles, my eye happened to fall upon a cobweb in a corner wherein was lodged an insect of extremely suspicious character; the husk could have been there for months, considering the housekeeping standards here, but as I prefer to police a Zero Tolerance policy towards the family Blattidae, tomorrow we're off to the Toxic Substances aisle of Home Despot... again.)

So, while the concrete presence of mice doesn't necessarily rule out the theoretical presence of rats as well, I do feel a little better with a positive ID in hand to blame the Thumping and Scratching and Cat-Staring-and-Chasing upon; moreover, knowing that one or both of our cats is a Certified Mouser and on the job is a great antidote to certain of the wibbles one would otherwise be suffering at the notion of having Unauthorized Mammals on the premises. (I think a lot of the shudders I get at the thought of [whisper] roaches is actually more the thought of having them, and the feeling of helplessness in the face of landlordly ineffectualness. Considering that my first three years were spent in absolute squalor and paternal neglect by Mum's account of things -- she's one of those few women to markedly improve her material standard of living by divorce -- I think this may be raising some sort of Abandonment Issues here, some weird traumatic episodes of no one minding the store while the bugs eat the baby...) So Snip and Weasel will be indulged (except when they attempt to escape like Weasel did just now when I opened the back door to try to determine whether the hissing sounds I was hearing through the transom window were someone spraying bug spray or pressing on a sizzling hamburger -- hamburger, I think) and petted mercilessly until the next time they try to pee in the beds.

The other topic I wanted to comment on is the firing of Alabama's Chief Justice. The one thing I would most like to ask the crowds of Jesus-praising supporters demonstrating on the front lawn of the courthouse is, "Would you still be out here demanding the return of the monument if instead of the Ten Commandments, it displayed quotes from the Qu'ran, or the Eight-Fold Path, or elephant-headed Ganesha, or perhaps had read simply, 'And it harm none, do as you will'?" In fact of all of those I think the best case could be made for the Wiccan Rede, because at least most religions seem to have in common some version of an exhortation not to mess with people. (A rabbi in the Middle Ages was challenged to recite the Torah while standing on one foot; he responded by saying "Whatsoever is hateful to you, do not do to others; that is the whole of the law. The rest is commentary. Now go and study.") But somehow I do picture this same crowd turning up to protest against any other sort of religiously-inspired display just as vigorously as they're supporting this one. Why is that? We as Americans seem to have a collective blind spot in our empathy circuits when it comes to picturing ourselves as being the party who might be in the wrong; that's human nature, of course, but I do think we've institutionalized it to an unhealthy degree. Maybe it was the Eighties: if the Sixties could be characterized as a time with a strong awareness of the notion, "there but for the grace of God go I", the experiences of the Eighties seem to have perverted that into "there but for the grace of God go I -- but I didn't, so screw you who did".

So how do we get back to a place where we can see the view from the other guy's shoes without that smug sense of glee that we're not him? I don't know: for all the Biblical regs about brother's keepers and the beams in one's own eye, certainly a lot of today's Alleged Christians don't seem to have internalized those parts of the book they (or perhaps the leaders of their church subspecieses) don't feel like emphasizing. So religion's probably out, when you can't even convince the kids that if you download too much music for free the musicians will eventually have to go back to their day-jobs at the cracker factory and there goes any free time to make new music. For all the Right's quacking on about Morals And Values, defining Morals and Values as "what I want you to do" seems like a shaky argument. And for all the sanctimoniousness of the Left about valuing differences, one can see how the Average Joe can perceive that as a morass of relativism not to be plunged into.

Maybe we need to throw out the notion of Left and Right altogether, and just consider questions from a postion of whether we would want the same action done to us... but shoot, thinkin's hard. :)

Tags: ,
feeling: pensive pensive

2 responses | moved to respond?
xunforgivenx From: xunforgivenx Date: November 15th, 2003 12:24 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
When I was a little kid the basement at my old house was filled with mice. Even though we had a cat - it didn't do its job, and we had to fill mouse traps with peanut butter.


Well, thats what my dad and I use to say when we were setting the traps.
I never knew if we actually caught any mice - because well that would be kinda tramatic for me. *nods*

:) good luck with that!
robling_t From: robling_t Date: November 15th, 2003 12:37 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
LOL, when were in Target tonight getting ant baits (yet another party in the Unauthorized Menagerie) Mum kept saying, "maybe we should get mousetraps?" To which I pointed out, we already seem to have two mousetraps... :)
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