Coffee heat rising

Dispatch from Costco’s Tire Shop: Monday as Day From Hell

Any day could be a Day from Hell, I suppose. Monday’s as good any for spiraling downhill. After a full morning in Hell (cleaning lady, nail in a tire, driving round and round Robin Hood’s Barn), as we scribble we’re now parked on a bench in the Tire Shop at Costco, waiting a predicted two hours to get one flickin’ tire fixed.

Again.

Dave, the doughty fella manning the customer service desk, is so busy he hasn’t had time to take a deep breath. Literally: the action here NEVER STOPS, not even for a minute or two.

This morning I had to take Ruby the Corgi to the vet to find out about getting her stinky teeth cleaned. This is a much neglected task: having foolishly imagined that I would be responsible enough to clean her teeth myself, I’ve let it go and let it go and forgotten about it and let it go until now she stinks so much she no longer can be ignored.

Actually…the issue is that her mouth is too small to allow me to fit the finger-sized tooth-scrubber thing in there. So no amount of pretend scrubbing does…well…anything. So this morning I took her to the vet, who wants A THOUSAND DOLLARS to clean her teeth.

This was no surprise, because the same vet used to pull the same stunt on La Maya, who (more or less) willingly forked over the cash for her two dachshunds.

Expecting this, I told her that on Social Security there’s no way in Hell I can afford anything like that.

She recommended some outfit called Doggy Dental, which supposedly does nothing but clean dogs teeth, for something vaguely resembling a reasonable fee.

That notwithstanding, she charged me for X-raying the dog’s teeth (did I ask her to do that?), and of course for the privilege of walking into her office.

So on the way home I stopped by a newer, closer vet to ask what they’d charge. Walked in. NOT A SOUL AROUND! Waited awhile. Left.

Next: low tire light comes on. Sumbiche!

Stop by the Firestone shop on the way home – they’re up at the corner Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s Way. Guy there says the tire needs to be replaced. And that’ll be a thousand bucks.

Uh HUH!

See ya!

So now here I am at the Costco, waiting and waiting and waiting to see if they can fix the tire and, if, not to simply buy a new one. Which, you may be damned sure, will NOT set me back a thousand dollah.*

This place is hectic!!!

The guys at the desk haven’t had a chance to take a deep breath since I walked in. But now…weirdly!…the crowd has abated, people have roamed off, and it’s downright quiet in here.

Meanwhile, NATCHERLY today is Cleaning Lady Day. So Luz is on her own at the Funny Farm. Fortunately, because I had to duck in there on the way, I did manage to pay her. That’s something. I guess.

Dayumnation! Somewhere, somehow I’m gonna have to find a vet that charges reasonable fees. And is competent.

That’ll be quite a trick. All the good old vets that I knew have retired and sold their veterinaries. So I don’t know anyone anymore. And they don’t know me, either…so haven’t the slightest compunction about charging me through the schnozzola. {sigh} Because of that, I reckon, Ruby  the Corgi is going to be the last dog to live at the Funny Farm.

How much longer, I wonder will the Ruby last? Overall her health seems to be excellent. So, barring accidents…what? Three to five years?

Holeee shee-ut! In five years I’ll be EIGHTY-TWO YEARS OLD! Assuming I’m still alive, that is.

Doesn’t seem possible.

That’s actually not out of the realm of possibility, though. On the California side of the family, women have lived into their 90s…and since they were Christian Scientists, that was in the absence of medical care. One of my uncles was 88 when he croaked over…. But… my mother’s New York grandparents weren’t so fortunate. Her grandmother died of diabetes in what must have been her mid- to late 30s…early 40s at the latest.

So then we’re confronted with the question of whether, after Ruby passes on to her furry fathers, can I justify getting another dog? Or even handle having another dog?

. . . .

Tire Shop Desk Dude: It’ll take about two hours to fix that.
Customer: That’s fine. I’ll do some shopping. The car is right outside.
TS DD: Where’s the wheel lock key?
Customer: In the glove compartment.

Uh huh. NOBODY would ever think to look for it there….

Guy just came in with a tire that needs fixing. Warrantee expired three years from the day he bought it: YESTERDAY.

Augh!

. . . .

As we were saying…. Can I, should I get another dawg after Ruby passes on to her Furry Fathers? Assuming she predeceases me, that is.

Unless the proposed successor to the Crown is already pushing old age when she arrives in the Realm, I’m not likely to survive her. So…who will take her? Can my son be bamboozled into agreeing to take in an ancient dawg when his mother croaks over? Hmmmmm…..

Old Guy comes in, pays a bill, walks out. He’s wearing well-used jeans held up with suspenders. Looks like he belongs in the Ozarks.

Prob’ly cruised in from Paradise Valley in his Rolls.

This is the West Side, though. Not impossible that he could be an old cotton farmer or rancher. Not likely, though.

Hey: Tire Dude says the guys are just finishing up with the Venza. Give it 2 minutes; then walk out to the second bay.

Hungry hungry hungry. By the time I get home it’ll be dinnertime, almost. So I guess that’ll be the main meal of the day.

How much longer before two minutes have passed?

Ohhhh how I wanna go home!

****

ESCAPED!

* Oh, and it cost $12 to replace the tire… It was on warrantee.

 

Scamarama!

Wow! In the past few weeks and months, I’ve been the target of scam after scam after scam!

Latest: a Paypal scam.

In comes a message from PayPal saying I charged up a piece of furniture for something over $900. Uh huh.

You understand: we closed that account months and months ago. As in “enough time for my former business partner to go back to graduate school, earn a master’s degree in psychological counseling, complete an internship, and open her practice as a shrink.”

The months, thus, translate into years. At least two or three years.

Trying to reach a human at PayPal is damn near impossible. After running round and round and round Robin Hood’s Barn, I finally did get ahold of a fella with a pleasingly exotic accent. He says the problem is hereby solved: the fake charge is disallowed and the account is closed.

Right. I’ll believe that when I see it. Or when I don’t see another notice of a fake charge.

You know, there are mailing lists organized by age. That’s how AARP knows to start hustling you to buy a membership, the minute you hit about age 62.

My guess is that some list now shows me as pushing 80 — which (can you believe it? I sure can’t!) is pretty close. Thus the various bad actors know there’s a good chance enough of my marbles have slipped away that they can scam me easily. Hence the endless stream of telephone scams.

I’ve stopped answering the phone — either land line or iPhone. Almost every call is a hustle of one sort or another.

And yeah: I do know about the National Do-Not-Call List…har har! They just ignore that. They know nothing will happen. The numbers they appear to be calling from are spoofed, so even if you were to call the feds and complain, it wouldn’t matter: you couldn’t provide the information needed to track them down, even if they were calling from within the US (which they probably aren’t).

With the iPhone, you can block all incoming and set the thing to let only selected callers through. But I still haven’t been able to figure out how to use the complicated damned thing. As devices go, it’s just brain-banging.

This PayPal stuff spooks me. I’m afraid that if I refuse to pay for the phantom furniture, they’ll wreck my credit. This is one reason I posted a narrative of the little saga here at FaM: If Paypal starts harassing me for the supposed charge, I’ll have a record of when it happened and a public statement that it’s fraudulent.

Basically consumers are pretty much defenseless against the barrage of soliciting and scamming phone calls. It’s virtually impossible to block them without blocking access from legitimate callers. And look it this involved rigamarole Verizon recommends to us!!!

Seriously, guys? Who has time for that kind of BS?

I’ve stemmed part of the tide by blocking calls from area codes where I don’t know people. The Phoenix metropolitan area, for example, has three area codes: 602, 623, and 480. Blocking calls from area code 623 cuts down significantly on the harassing advertisements…but it has a BIG (and obvious) downside. One of my doctors’ offices is in the 623 area code: they can’t get through to me on the phone. Same is true for anyone in 480. Or 520 (Tucson). Or 213 (Los Angeles). Or 415 (San Francisco), 408 (San Jose), 510 (East Bay), 562 (Long Beach, Whittier, Norwalk, Lakewood, Bellflower, Cerritos, southeast Los Angeles County and a small portion of coastal Orange County)…. That is a WHOLE lot of friends and business acquaintances who are cut off from reaching you by telephone. I give out an email address whenever I can, but the truth is, most people don’t quite grasp the problem.

And the problem, apparently, is that as you advance in age, you become a juicier and juicier target for telephone scammers. Before I started blocking area codes and some local exchanges, I’d get as many as ten or twelve calls a day from crooks pestering me.

The 21st Century…Dante would’ve loved it!

PayPal: It Never Goes Away

Trying to send a complaint to the FTC. Their website form apparently “sees” some character in this disquisition as a disallowed weird character, even though nothing out of the ordinary appears in it. So…Here’s an effort to get it to them by posting it here and asking them to come over and take a look at it. Wish me luck, folks!

§

Some time ago, my business partner and I closed the PayPal account for our business, The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc., since she was beginning a new career and I had decided to get out of the technical editing trade. Recently, I have been getting statements from PayPal to the effect that hundreds of dollars in billing have been racked up on the supposedly defunct PayPal account, for the purchase of furniture from some outfit I’ve never heard of. I have tried twice, using addresses from PayPal’s website, to straighten this out, but it’s impossible to reach a human being at PayPal. Now today in comes another demand for payment of something in excess of $800 for a purchase neither of us ever heard of. Below is a copy of the email I just sent to PayPal, presumably into the ether.

“Into the ether” indeed: when you send an email to the contact address given at PayPal’s website, it bounces right back with an “invalid address” message. Please investigate. And if you would, please, inform these crooks that they’re not getting any money out of me.

Below: message sent to PayPal email address (billing378579@gmail.com) requesting cancellation of fraudulent charges on closed account:

***

billing378578@gmail.com

Okay, see the BS below? This is a fraudulent charge to a PayPal account that SHOULD be defunct and that we have tried to close, apparently without luck. We closed our business, The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc., some time ago and are no longer doing business through PayPal.

Apparently some swindler has charged up hundreds of dollars worth of furniture on that account. I attempted to contact your people and clue them that no such charges were made by us, and that the account should be closed. Apparently you either have no people or none of your people care whether your customers are scammed.

I am forwarding this email (plus my requests to you to shut down that account and negate this fraudulent charge) to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Trade Commission.

Once again: CLOSE THE ACCOUNT for The Copyeditor’s Desk Inc., Millicent V. Hay, Victoria Hay, or Vicky Hay. DO NOT HARASS ME FURTHER WITH FRAUDULENT CHARGES.

Sincerely,

Victoria Hay, Ph.D.
Former director, The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc.

I would appreciate some help from someone who is in a position to bring a stop to this fraud. Thanks for your attention.

Victoria Hay
vickyhay@mac.com

***

There seems to be no way to reach a human being at PayPal. However, their business is essentially a form of banking and so should be regulated by U.S. authorities. How does one go about submitting a complaint to the relevant regulatory agency? And what IS the relevant U.S. regulatory agency?

§

I don’t expect to get far with this call for help to the banking regulators, even though PayPal is regarded as a type of banking operation and even though they have offices on US soil.

Don’t do business through PayPal, folks! They are totally, bullet-proofedly untouchable. You can’t reach a human for love nor money. But meanwhile they’re wrecking your credit by letting crooks rack up false charges on an account they refuse to close.

Fiasco Update: The Pool, the Pal, and all That

Our Pool Dude To the Rescue, a guy named Stan from the venerable (and pricey) Swimming Pool Service & Repair, arrived a few days ago and ministered to the backyard swamp. Dumped in a sh!tload of stuff that turned the water milk-white, said “run it 24 hours nonstop” and assured me that the water would clear up.

And lo! The guy was right.

The following morning the drink was crystal clear. The pump is pounding away at 35 psi — wayyyy high for that unit, which normally runs at about 18-25 psi when everything is clean.

Which everything decidedly is not.

Stan resurfaced the next day to decombobulate the filter and the pump and clean everything out.  And what a mess he found in there, after months of Ex-Pool Dude refusing to do the job.

Meanwhile, Ex-Pool Dude having stolen my Hayward Pool Cleaner, I needed to decide whether to order a new one from Amazon, or, for a hundred bucks more, to Shop Local and buy the same damn thing from the Sunnyslope Leslie’s, an outfit that mostly caters to the trade.

That store was agglomerated by the Leslie’s corporation fairly recently — for many years it had been a locally owned store, much beloved by people who work in the pool business. The former owners are still working there, but it remains to be seen how long they’ll stay.

My impression about those guys in Sunnyslope is that they probably are not crooks. I feel less wary of them than the crew at the Leslie’s in the Safeway shopping center a mile or two down the road, so if I was going to buy the thing retail and locally, that’s where I’d go.

My sense is that they’ll take it back if a problem arises…a trick that, as you know, is QUITE a trick when you buy from Amazon. That “insurance,” as it were, may be worth the extra hundred bucks.

Absolutely. So it was off to the Leslie’s-That-Is-Not-Altogether-a-Leslie’s to drop four hundred bucks on a new piece of equipment.

{sigh}

The whole idea of hiring someone to maintain that pool — now, to get him broken in, not later — has to do with the scheme to try to stay in my house till I croak over. Slamming around in the humid heat this morning was just this side of more than I can manage, here at the entryway to my dotage. If I”m going to stay in this house indefinitely, I’ll have to corner some hired help to do tasks I’ve been able to do in more energetic and less absent-minded years:

  • house-cleaning help
  • yard workers
  • pool maintenance guy
  • AC maintenance guy
  • handyman
  • plumber
  • electrician
  • reliable, not-a-crook roofer

At least.

Actually, just now I have access to all those except the pool maintenance guy and probably the yard workers. Gerardo clearly has lost interest in doing private yards — he told me all those years ago, when he started, that his goal for the business was to do commercial landscaping. And given that guy’s smarts and energy, I figure he’s now about achieved that goal, and so would like to get rid of me and M’hijto.

Once all the present flaps settle down, the next order of business will be to figure out how — if it’s possible at all — to avoid being scammed and taken advantage by the armies of service and product providers you need to deal with. I’d been told that elderly people are easily flamboozled and targets for scams of all varieties. But this is the first time I’ve come fully face-to-face with that fact. Everybody and their little brother has tried to take advantage of me during the present fiasco. I’ve found a few guys who were honest and straightforward — most of them workmen who live here in the neighborhood (i.e., they know I know where they live…).

Pool Dude is the most egregious case in point. He stole a $400 pool cleaner — probably to sell or give it to one of his other customers — and when I demanded that he give it back, he foisted a worn-out piece of junk on me. Did he seriously believe I couldn’t tell the difference????

Clearly, this is not something that’s going to get better. In fact, I’m wondering if it’s possible to hire some kind of agent or go-between to run interference with various suppliers and service providers.

Y’know…given the size and the up-and-coming senility of the Baby Boom generation, I imagine a person could make a decent living with exactly that kind of service. I wonder what such a service would be called? And how you could insure it or how government entities could regulate it…hmmmm….

*********

Meanwhile, my friend J, of the J&L couple who moved to the Beatitudes old-folkerie, needed a ride to the doctor’s office. She, at the age of about 90, came down with covid-19!

Amazingly, she threw it off. She must be strong as a horse! And, so far, her husband has not caught it. Presumably, the vaccine is hold the disease at bay.

These warehouses for old folks have real problems keeping the disease under control The Beatitudes has done so, to a degree, by confining ALL the inmates to their apartments. No one is allowed to leave the campus, and for awhile no one was allowed to leave their tiny apartments! Food was hand-delivered to people’s rooms by the employees: room service, at it were. So on the one hand it wasn’t surprising that J caught the disease; on the other, it’s astonishing that L has avvoided it so far.

Also surprising, to my mind, is that they go to a doctor in Sunnyslope — probably because their former abode was right down the street from John C. Lincoln, one of the three major hospitals in the city of Phoenix. What makes this surprising is that the practice caters to Latinos — Sunnyslope is largely Mexican. And J&L do subscribe to 19th-century ideas about race, gender, and ethnicity. That notwithstanding, she made a brilliant choice in electing to go to this doctor.

Amazingly, the man proposed to CALL HER DAUGHTER IN CALIFORNIA (!!!!!!!) and discuss Joan’s health with her!

Joan wanted me to sit in on their discussion to take notes – and her daughter was complicit with this scheme – but as you can imagine, the Doc was not so happy about it. He, being brighter than the average snail, saw that speaking to Daughter himself would get whatever he needed to share across without any static, and allow her to ask whatever questions she had directly to him.

Thank goodness!

The Beatitudes…SHUDDER!!!! 

Gawdlmighty, I’d rather be dead than trapped in that prison for old folks. For the price of their pretty North Central patio home – two large bedrooms, a spacious kitchen – bigger than mine! – a handy laundry area, a big two-car garage, a big dining room and living room with a free-standing fireplace, and a nice little backyard with a patio and a nice barbecue and pretty landscaping for their cat to jump around in – they get three rooms, one of which is the size of my hall closet. No garage: but their choice of any slot under a tinfoil roof that they manage to grab (and good luck with that). No yard. No barbecue. No real washer/dryer – just a couple of teeny stacked mechanical boxes jammed in a closet. A kitchen that’s not as big as the one in the studio apartment I rented my first year out of college. A phone system that doesn’t work.

No kidding: it took us THREE TRIES to get the damn phone to dial out so we could confirm the time of this afternoon’s appointment!

And – no kidding – she told me it took ALL OF THE PROCEEDS from the sale of their house to buy them into that awful prison for old folks.

If you’re going to blow all your net worth to keep yourself going through your dotage, wouldn’t it be better to borrow against equity in your spectacularly paid-off home (you don’t even wanna KNOW what houses in North Central are worth now!!!!) to hire people to come in every day to take care of you, fix your food, clean your house, and drive you around?  Let’s say you’re 88 years old (about Lee & Joan’s age – actually, Lee is over 90). How much longer are you likely to live?

Five years? Ten years? Fifteen at the very outside?

So a practical nurse costs, say, 30 grand a year. Your food and clothing: maybe 5 grand, assuming you cook most if it yourself? Make it 10 grand, so you can go out to eat.  But throw in an extra 5 grand anyway, just to cover…stuff.

Hmmm… 30 grand + 5 + 10: $45,000 a year in regular expenses.

You live another 10 years: you need $450,000 to keep you going.

Your net worth at the outset was, shall we say, in the vicinity of a million bucks. No: make that cash holdings. Your house, at the outset, would have been worth around $300,000. Thus you have access to around $1,300,000, or  available cash (over 10 years of supposed remaining life) of $130,000/year.

Looks like you’re not gonna starve anytime soon. But what about hiring in geriatric-serving hired help?

If one nurse costs 45 grand a year, you have over twice as much as you need to hire such a person.

Can that possibly be right? English-major math…but still…. The point is, because your investments are steadily regenerating, as long as a serious recession holds off, you’re ultimately subtracting less from your total annual cost of living from the bottom line of your retirement investments.

See wot I mean? It looks suspiciously to me as tho’ if they had stayed in their house, they could have afforded to hire daily nursing care and still come out ahead of what it costs them to live in the Old Folks Prison.

Of course, the story was not that simple. (Is any story?) They had a demented neighbor who had become a very serious problem. She was always at odds with the HOA, and she kept trying to run Lee down in her car.

But then after all the story also was not that complicated. They could have sold that house and moved into another, comparable patio home (North Central is practically blanketed with the things!), thereby escaping the nutso neighbor but retaining the lifestyle that Lee so fully enjoyed.  And they would have had plenty of money (he was a nuclear engineer, forgodsake!) to bring in all the hired help they need.

*********

Stan, the new pool dude whose name I got from the neighbors, just showed up, swept, adjusted, reset equipment and breezed out. Much to be hoped is it that this guy will be competent and not a crook. Looks promising so far.

The pool has gone from Similac white to crystal clear, and I’m sincerely hoping that the thing can be maintained at its previous level of excellence. I forgot to ask him if it’s OK to swim in the thing yet. But since I’m now not allowed to get in the sun, lest more skin cancers erupt, that’s moot. By this evening, without a doubt, it will be just fine. So I can do my Dracula thing then.

 

 

 

All Around the Swimming-Pool Hole…

Round and round we go!

Holy God, what a week!

As I seem to have failed to mention here, a while back I hired a guy to ride herd on the swimming pool, which was turning green and also turning into one helluva lot more work than I care to do, here in Old Age Hell. The Pool Dude thing has gone along sorta kinda OK. He managed to un-green it at the time I hired him, and my workload dropped to almost nil.

But…well… Let’s just say that “nothing lasts forever.”  To make a very long and complicated story relatively short, Pool Dude made off with my Hayward pool cleaner. This is a device that you attach to the end of a 40-foot hose, which you insert into the inlet that passes water from the pool into the pump and filter, where debris is collected and clean water is then pumped circulated into the pool.

He resurfaced with another cleaner — also a Hayward, but noticeably older, tireder, and worn out. This thing was barely functional.

I asked him to bring mine back. No action was forthcoming. Meanwhile, a fine algae bloom festooned the pool walls, and the water began to turn green. The closest to anything like an explanation I got from the guy was a sorta sidewise excuse that he liked to have a couple of these devices in his workshop from which to cannibalize parts to repair his customers’ units.

Yeah. So we know what happened to Harvey, right?

After repeated demands that he bring Harvey back, he showed up with a Hayward cleaner…but it was not mine! It was old, tired, and faded. Apparently he imagined I would believe his story that he’d refurbished and renovated the thing and would be ohhh so happy to get it back.

This aged device barely worked. The filter needed (still needs) to be decombobulated and cleaned out — a big job that should have been done weeks ago.

After some thrashing around, I find the name of a pool guy on the neighborhood Facebook page. By this time Pool Dude has made off with a $445 piece of equipment and apparently has no intention of returning it. I consider reporting the bastard to the cops — which I’ll have to do if I want to make a claim on my homeowner’s insurance. But realize this will create a huge hassle…and since he never gave me a receipt and nobody was here to witness the transaction, I can’t even begin to prove it. Which, presumably,  is why the guy figures he can get away with such shenanigans.

Now I arrange for Swimming Pool Service and Repair — a venerable outfit that does major repairs and renovations, not routine cleaning — to come over and shovel out the pump and filter — a job our boy should have done when he started last fall and that, when I finally asked him point-blank to do the job, he flat refused to do. They agreed to come out Monday to get that done.

Meanwhile, the new guy comes over and dumps a ton of chemicals into the drink. This causes the water to turn milk-white. He says to run the pump for 24 hours and (as if anyone needed to be told…) to stay out of the water.

The pressure shoots up to 35 psi — normal for this pool is around 18 to 22 psi — and the system grinds away for hour after hour after hour, all day, all night and now the better part of another today.

I watch in anticipatory horror, hoping a monsoon storm doesn’t come whaling in and dump dirt and debris into the drink.

Swimming Pool Service and Repair — an outfit that does major repairs and renovations, not routine cleaning — is coming next week to clean the pump and filter — something Our Hero should have done when he started last fall and that, when finally I asked him point-blank to do the job, he flat refused to do. So I hope the system will make it through till Monday — if a major storm comes in, I may have to just shut everything down and let it turn green…again.

*****

Now I email Pool Dude telling him firmly to return my pool cleaner, now not later. Don’t think I’ll ever see it or him again. And since I can’t prove he took it — no receipt, no witnesses — I can’t even report him to the police. Or to anyone. Don’t even faintly expect to hear back from him:  figure either he gave Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner to one of his better-paying customers or he deconstructed it to use the parts to repair customers’ units. 

Neighbors on FB recommended a couple other pool dudes.  Eventually I snare one who seems to have a brain. He wants me to run over to Leslie’s and buy 25 pounds of granulated chlorine.

*******

Eventually, Pool Dude shows up at the house. I inform him that he’s canned. He’s not altogether surprised, but he’s plainly dismayed…because, he confesses, three other of his clients have fired him! 

Yeah. Well. Incompetence will out. Eventually.

*******

This morning I went over to my newly favorite Leslie’s, a hole-in-the-wall up in Sunnyslope that used to be called B&L until the Leslie’s corporation moved in and made the owners an offer they couldn’t refuse. The original owners still seem to be working there, for the nonce. Thank goodness, because they’re honest, down-to-earth, and not in the habit of hustling you to buy stuff you don’t need. So, by the time the sales tax soaking was applied, I dropped over $500 to replace the device Pool Dude stole.

What a mess the whole Pool Dude thing has turned into. It’s too bad…he’s a charming, sweet guy. But maybe that’s how crooks make their way in this world.