I really haven’t done this kinda stuff a lot, like dealt with the small things that resemble the vagaries of reality. Hence my involvement in the mundane doctrine of moving apartments, changing phone services and the normal routines of everyday life seem to momentarily escape me. It’s just that for most of my life I was never bothered by these intricacies and that consistency and reliability where not words that were used very often to describe me or at the very least my behavior. However the changing of time and growing older seem to find me at least trying to deal with it all on a different level; yet I am constantly amazed at what passes for the normal way that things are done.
A most recent example of what I’m talking about: After moving from one apartment to another in the same building that I already live in. I filled out the change of address form that I’d picked up while visiting my sister and brought it down to the local Post Office and stood in line waiting for the lone employee to stop fixing the display of this month’s Snowy Egret stamps and attend to the procession of people waiting ahead of me. For some unknown reason I felt better giving this mailable postcard type form directly to another human being instead of just dropping it in the mailbox on the corner by the winos and derelicts. So when it finally got to be my turn to be helped I handed it to the postal clerk and he stared at it and then at me and then he said. “What do you want me to do with this?”
“Well.” I said “Correct me if I’m wrong but this is the Post Office right? And that is one of your change of address forms isn’t it?”
I had thought that what I was getting at was sorta self-explanatory, a no brainer – I wanna change my mailing address, here’s the form, end of story!
“You hafta mail this.” was all that he said as he tried to hand it back to me.
Wherein I did the universal “Well?” gesture of my hands palms up as I shrugged my shoulders and raised my eyebrows simultaneously refusing to accept the card in question.
“Take it outside and put it in the mailbox by the front door and it will get picked up today at five.” and with that he dropped it onto the counter and looked over my shoulder and shouted “Next!” motioning the gibberish muttering woman behind me forward.
A bit confusing, no? Had I just pissed him off by being a wiseass or is this considered the normal procedure down at the post office? Plainly I could have protested and said that I knew for a fact that he took letters to be mailed and dropped them in a bin to his left below the counter because I had seen him do it several times for others while I waited in line to be helped. But then there’s that trust in your fellow human being thing again and that maybe it wasn’t in my change of address form’s best interest to be in the hands of a mad man and that in fact he was doing me a service by making me take hold of my own destiny and delivering it to the waiting mailbox outside by the scruffy yet polite panhandling amputee sprawled haphazardly on the ground.
Unfortunately it all didn’t just end there because yesterday I got a notice from the US Postal Service that the former tenant whose apartment I now inhabited had turned in his own change of address form and that from this moment forth all of his mail would be forwarded to his new address. Which wasn’t such a bad idea considering that I’d been receiving a bunch of his mail and most of it seemed to be from credit card companies or banks with the word “Urgent” stamped across the front of them in red. But in the back of my head I started to worry because just how was this all gonna get achieved with his mail going out to somewhere else and mine not going where it use to but now coming here? And after my dealings with the manic mailman, did I really have faith that there wasn’t just going to be some heinous mix up with the cross pollination of mail and the whole thing turning all haywire in a delivery nightmare?
The current notice had a phone number to call only if the above aforementioned information was not correct and someone is trying to mess with you in a decidedly evil passive aggressive way by rerouting your incoming mail. And below that was an advert for their web site for changing your mailing address and whatever other moving type mail problems that you might be encountering. I realized that I had already turned in my change of address form, or what the notice referred to as a PS Form 3575, but did I really trust the system to get it right? I still hadn’t returned the key to my old mailbox and I was checking everyday and there hadn’t been one of these notices informing the current tenant, which at the moment I guess would still be me, of any forwarding of the mail. Should I call them? Should I reiterate my change of address only this time online over the internet? Jesus Christ, it’s hard to believe that here I was getting bent out of shape and stressing about my mail delivery. Had my life digressed to such a convention of normalcy that the complexities of the postal service were my primary concern?
In the past during, my formidable years, when I moved I just moved and if the mail followed me I was usually pretty disappointed that it did. In those days moving was like a fresh start – a good time to begin chalking up new offenses on a clean slate, if you will. Gone and with good riddance were those endless incessant letters asking for their money back, no more would I be plagued with the headache of bills owed or once trusting creditors clamoring to be paid. Usually by the time it had gotten that bad moving had become a necessity: the electricity had been shut off, the landlord was banging at my front door looking for the rent and what decrepit car I owned was either towed or abandoned dead on some street and in the process of being stripped by the marauding crackheads. Obviously with all the omens in place it was time to start a new bar tab somewhere else and preferably across town!
But that was all in the days before computers and their never failing memories. Now a days, short of an act of god destroying the earth with pestilence or a really unparalleled cyber virus, a person is to expect their debt to live longer then they will. Faking what was once any easy “alternative identity” is now in the hands of semi-professional criminals or overactive speed freaks and is not so easily achieved with a simple phone call as it used to be. And these days with this ludicrous war on terrorism, well I can safely say that I am not the only one whose former lifestyle is being hindered by Homeland Security!
Obviously I’m regressing a ways down memory lane here instead of addressing the situation proactively as I should. The simple fact though was that today there was no mail in either mailbox which really didn’t reassure me that the US Postal Service was diligently on the job no matter how nice the weather was outside and that dueling address changes could be too daunting a challenge even for the best run companies. It wasn’t that I was worrying where this month’s L.L.Bean catalog was but I was sorta wondering about the various utility companies with their monthly bills that just love to throw on penalties and late fees as soon as they’re a second overdue. Which eventually leads to bad credit ratings and credit reports and… I just said credit reports didn’t I?
A vicious circle this getting it together thing is! Words you thought that you’d never utter just find their way into your vocabulary and out of your mouth. When just staying off police reports used to be your primary concern, your credibility for equity is suddenly at stake and the harsh reality of it all hits home and suddenly a horrifying realization emerges in my mind: I have sold out! Somewhere, somehow I had left the anarchistic fold and done the deed and not only for the god damn Postal Service Form 3575 and its mail delivery capabilities. But as I look around my apartment it has become all too apparent that I have also sold out for Dell Laptop Computers, LG Cell Phones, Aiwa CD Players, Ikea Reading Lamps, High Speed SBC DSL, Saeco Espresso Machines, Epson Printers, Ionic Breeze Air Purifiers, Panasonic TV’s, Kenneth Cole Clothing, GE Microwaves, Lucky Brand Jeans, Sony DVD Players, Lily Pharmaceutical’s Prozac, Honda Civics, iMacs, The Company Store Down Quilts, Ben Davis Clothing, Firstgear Leather Jackets, Chippewa Boots, Memorex CD-R’s, Whole Foods Markets, Cannon Digital Cameras, Creative Living 500 TC Linen Sheets, New Balance Running Shoes, 24 Hour Fitness Centers, Borders Books, Netflix DVD’s and a million other generic or no name brand merchandises and services that I devour on a daily basis like the lackey running dog that I seem to have become!
And in the end is it all worth it?
I guess that if the question is whether living in a capitalistic society as a participating consuming wanker is better than being an incarcerated spectator, well, then I guess that I’d have to say yes. Otherwise I’d be living a lie, no? Surviving righteously outside of society eventually takes its toll. Living as a parasite on what you can take from society, well, that’s a whole other equation and to truly be free you can’t live your life that way. Though mainlining consumer culture is no substitute for freedom, it beats the confinement of a cold cell or the final embrace of a warm overdose and as always freedom is really a state of mind not what clothes you wear or what car you drive. Those in fact are just the bribes given out to look the other way as yet again another civilization consumes itself into oblivion.