Life is interesting, isn’t it? And you know how the Chinese look at the adjective “interesting…”
July = a very bad month for me and technology. First of all, three…? weeks ago today on my way home from work my old Buick died. It felt like the passenger side front tire blew out, so I took it into the nearest parking lot – but the tire was fine. Uh oh, I thought, and popped the hood; I know nothing about engines, but given what I felt I thought maybe I’d see something obvious, a cap off or a break or disconnection somewhere. Nope. I pulled out my phone to call home and/or AAA… dead. Oh… bother.
The nearest shop open was a tobacco shop (which stank to highest heaven), and the man behind the counter allowed me (very reluctantly) to call home; I didn’t dare try calling AAA. No one with a car was home, so … I walked. It was only about a mile, but I, my friends, am not a walker, and I barely made it.
When I could breathe again I called AAA – only to find I’ve used up my three service calls this year. Stupid Buick. Stupid snow the stupid Buick got stuck in. Stupid Buick battery. But it would only be about $35 … but I would need to be with the car to pay the tow truck. There’s a tale in the towing – isn’t there always a tale? – but suffice to say that after a rigamarole the car was towed to the mechanic I trust (whose shop is four miles away; Triple-A towing covers three free. I owed something like $4.21. (Tax.) I only had a ten on me. Did the driver have change? You just sit there and think about how silly that question is), and I, happily, was set up to borrow my sister’s old car, which will be my niece’s when she eventually learns to drive. Conveniently, she has not done so yet, and in fact the car had been sitting around a bit lately, so – yay.
My mechanic may be trusted, but he’s hard to get hold of, and he very much does not work weekends (including Fridays). So it was a few days later that I got the news: the Buick, he is dead.
*moment of silence*
We hated each other for over a year, that car and I, but it got me where I need to go, usually. Oh well.
I decided I wasn’t going to make the same mistake, buying the cheapest possible thing which would only stave off disaster for a couple of years. When I had my Jeopardy! audition this past May (I never wrote that up, did I? Oops) I had it all planned out. They always asked what each person would do with the money they won, and I wanted something to say other than “pay the mortgage” (woo hoo) or “travel” (what EVERYone says, including me the first time) – and it finally came to me. “I’m driving a ’99 Buick,” I would answer; “I want to buy a car built in this millennium.”
I did better than that – I got one built in this decade. Well, depending on how you look at it, I suppose; technically I guess 2010 belongs to the first decade. Darn. Still. It’s a Ford Fusion … hands up, those who knew there were Fusions that weren’t hybrids? *counts* Humph. I didn’t know that. I especially felt a little stupid because during the test drive I asked about how emissions work with a hybrid – is it still the same frequency of a normal car, or – ? The dealer guy sort of got a funny look on his face, and said “Oh, we’ll take care of emissions before you pick up the car.” Okay. That’s not an answer, but okay. It wasn’t till the next day that I somehow figured it out, and looked again at the listing – no mention of hybrid. And it’s not. Oh well.
It was yet another long and bumpy road to work out the details of obtaining the car (which means car payments and twice the insurance payment, so I may rediscover ramen noodles over the next couple of years), clean out and okay the sale-for-scrap of the Buick, and start to find a new normal. Which only lasted a couple of days, because I had to bring the new car back on Monday to go through emissions again.(I don’t know why – I’ve kind of stopped asking why by now)… and because the service-engine-soon light came on. Oh, and I noticed a panel popped partway out by the front left wheel. They gave me a loaner for the meantime. The reason I’m still driving the loaner this weekend is that an O2 sensor needed replacing (slightly ironic, given I work for a medical oxygen supplier). The sensor took a day or so to come in. Then the mechanic’s wife was sick and that was another day. Then the car had to go back to emissions, because it couldn’t go till the sensor was replaced. Then it failed, and honestly somewhere in that phone call the guy’s voice became the teacher’s from Charlie Brown.
The dealer guy said I should have it Monday. He didn’t sound confident. I know I’m not. But at least he called me today; I’ve had to call them every other time – why, coincidentally, since they got my money.
The other Bad Technology story is much shorter; my wireless router died shortly after the Buick, and nearly every penny I had access to went to the Ford down payment. But today was payday, so – look! The internet! Neat.
Now about the title of this post… I’m curious if anyone out there has had a similar incident. I come home for lunch every day to walk the dog, and when I came in today my mother told me that the Internal Revenue Service had called. My eyebrows went up. They had left a number, but Mom didn’t get it written down, so I checked the phone and called the number that had called here. An Indian voice responded “Internal Revenue Service, this is Frank.” It was a terrible connection, so I hung up and called back – and got Frank again. He seemed disapproving that I had hung up. He informed me that I needed to provide my lawyer’s information, because I was being charged with tax fraud and something else I didn’t catch because the accent was so heavy. I was mildly surprised; he got grumpier the more I reacted, and demanded to know if I wanted him to read the affadavit. I said of course I did, and he warned me not to interrupt him – which was a challenge as he went on for some time about how much trouble I was in, involving fines and fees and a marshall probably on his way to my door that moment and my license and passport being suspended for ten years and *insert Charlie Brown teacher voice here*… Again, the accent was pretty heavy. When he finally shut up, I asked how I was supposed to know this was legitimate; he replied nastily that when they came to arrest me I could ask all the questions I wanted, and I’d want to have my lawyer present. I laughed – couldn’t help it. He hung up.
I’ll admit it – while he was going on and on in fairly realistic bureaucracy-ese about how my credit would be destroyed and and I’d lose all my assets (not the car!!) and so on and on, I sat here thinking “But … I mean, the clothes we donated to Goodwill might have only been worth about $50 when I claimed $75, but it’s not like they’d know, or it would make a difference…” And wondering if somehow my last employer managed to do something evil about my unemployment … And “Frank” didn’t get to the point of telling me to send money (or if he did I didn’t understand him.) But it was all so stupid, and hard to swallow, and while I’ll also admit I didn’t quite dare cuss out “Frank from the IRS” (you don’t want to piss off the real IRS), I couldn’t keep from laughing in the end. When I got back to an internet connection – work, that is – I took a few minutes I really didn’t have and hunted for a way to report the call to the Real IRS. It ended up taking about half an hour, two phone calls to local branches who don’t provide off-season customer service, a call to the IRS 800-number that led in circles, and finally a link to a different site where I could start a report. See, now, a runaround – that’s how you know you’re actually working with a government agency. Some guy answering his own phone after only a couple of rings? Clearly a fake.
Here’s the kicker: I thought I’d Nancy Drew it a little and call the number back from my cell phone, act scared and try to get an address to send a certified check to; I was going to come up with some cock and bull story about why I wouldn’t want to make a payment electronically. So I did: 202-506-9717. Which now reaches a message stating that the MagicJack number I had called has not been assigned to a subscriber yet… How very strange! I never would have thought the IRS would use something like MagicJack! Anyway, I only hope I get put into some minimum security Club Fed sort of place – but if this blog goes quiet again you’ll know I’m serving my sentence. For tax fraud and something or other.