Friday, May 27, 2011

[Expletive Deleted]

While I have to admit that this litany of complaints falls into the category of First Word/White People Problems, it also falls into the category of Okay, But That’s Kind Of The Last Straw.  So make of it what you will.
The month of May is almost over.  That’s good, in that it means that, with the holiday on Monday, I get a long weekend.  I’m definitely a fan of long weekends.  The longer the better, in fact (that’s what…well, you know).
But it’s bad in that, “Oh shit, I wasn’t really paying attention and now May is almost over and I need to get the stupid Virginia Safety Inspection done on my car.”
Fortunately, I realized this yesterday, which meant that I had a couple of days – fewer days than remain in the month thanks to the long weekend – in which to get it done.
Since I was also due for an oil change, I called my car dealership to set up an appointment for today to kill the proverbial pair of birds with the single proverbial stone.
(“And that’s the end of that chapter,” thinks Jon, as he hangs up the phone and wipes the metaphorical* dust off his hands.)
As a bonus, since I knew that 1. Very few people would show up for work on Friday in the first place 2.  We were closing early in preparation for the holiday weekend 3.  Most of the people who did show up would leave even earlier than that and 4. Because of all of this there wouldn’t be much going on I could actually make my appointment in the early afternoon, say oneish, and start my weekend – or at least my time away from work – slightly sooner than normal.
So today rolled around and 12:30 found me on the way to my dealership – longtime readers may recall that I did the whole pre-paid maintenance plan when I bought my car – and the first major annoyance of the day popped up:  owing to the holiday weekend, Rush Hour had already started.
Still, it wasn’t much of annoyance, nor was it wholly unexpected, and I didn’t have to drive that far anyway.
I got to the dealership, handed over my key, and made my way to the waiting area.  I frowned a little when he said that it would be about an hour and a half, but still, nothing to get too worked up about.
Before I could even sit down, the guy from the service department came along and told me that the Inspector wasn’t there today, so all they could do was the oil change.
Okay, that was starting to get really annoying, but…well there are lots of places that do the Safety Inspection, so surely I could find one that wasn’t too busy on my way home.
Traffic had gotten even worse by the time I left the dealership, and when I finally got to Leesburg I had to do that thing I really hate doing:  not turning onto the street that leads me home.  It’s not so bad if I’m doing something in town after work and the route to wherever I’m headed doesn’t take me past my house, but when it does involve driving past my house, I get annoyed.
(If that strikes you as irrational, well, rationality isn’t really the point of this post.)
I had decided that I would try this gas station that does the Inspection.  Basically, you just show up and get into the Safety Inspection lane.  It took me forever to get to that station, as, despite the fact that 1.  It was only 2:30 in the afternoon and 2. The population of Leesburg is only about 40,000 there was enough traffic to make you think it was 5:30 on the Beltway (for people not familiar with the area, take my word for it:  5:30 on the Beltway is a hellish nightmare).
I looked over at the Safety Inspection lane and said, “Nope.  No fucking way.”  Seriously, there was no way.  Even if I’d been willing to subject myself to that, I wouldn’t have been able to do so.  There was no space available at the end of the line, as the ass end of the last car in the line was sticking out onto the street.
I considered just putting it off and trying again on Tuesday, but there was no way for me to get turned around to go home.  So I decided to try the Tire Shop.  I couldn’t actually get into the lane I needed to get into to go there, as a couple of jackasses had decided that it was a good idea to get into an accident in the midst of a traffic jam, so that lane was blocked off.  I turned off towards a shopping center in the hopes that, unlike most shopping centers in Northern Virginia, there would actually be something useful located there, like, oh, I don’t know, a place that does Virginia Safety Inspections, maybe?
Of course there wasn’t.  Why would there be one?  It’s not like Safety Inspections are mandatory and in high demand or any- oh, wait.
Still, this allowed me to turn around and head in the direction of the Tire Shop.  Naturally I had to sit through several cycles of the traffic lights because there were all sorts of people sitting there staring at the green light and thinking, “Gee, it’s almost like that light is supposed to indicate something to me.  I wonder what it means?”
Finally, I arrived at my destination, found a place to park, and made my way in, and was well on my way to getting my Safety Inspection done.  “It should be done around 5, 5:30,” the man behind the counter said, in an affable tone.  “I’ll let you know if it gets done sooner.”
Initially, I refused to believe what I’d just heard, but my refusal to accept it was meaningless as far as reality was concerned.  I looked at my watch.  2:45.  I looked at the irritatingly affable man behind the counter.  “Are you fu- are you serious?”
“Yep.  In fact, as soon as you walk away, I’m going to change the Inspection sign to ‘Full.’  You going to hang out around here?”
“It would seem I have no choice,” I said, given that I had no choice.
I walked over to a nearby McDonald’s to get something to eat, and spent what felt like an hour behind a woman who was outlining her very specific and complex instructions for her order to the hapless man behind the counter, but which somehow – because fucking time, how does it work? – only took about a minute.
I made my order, got my food, took my time eating it, used the restroom, then headed outside.  It was, by this time, just barely after 3, because, again, fucking time, how does it work?
I decided that I would just go for a walk at that point, though – somehow – I was managing to be uncharacteristically optimistic and thinking, “Maybe it won’t take that long,” so I didn’t want to walk too far away.
After a two hour walk that actually only lasted five minutes, I turned back towards the Tire Shop and, deciding that it was too hot to be wandering around out in the sun, I made my way across the street and over to the ghetto Walmart.  Sure, I know that you’re thinking “ghetto Walmart” is redundant, but that’s only because you’ve never been in this particular Walmart.
I didn’t especially want to go to the Walmart, but it wasn’t as though I had a lot of options.  Target, which would have been preferable, all things considered, was relatively nearby, but in attempting to walk there I would have run the risk of being run down by some distracted/angry driver.  Then again, that option might have been preferable, too.
One of the things that annoys me most about Northern Virginia is that nothing is convenient.  At all.  Shopping plazas contain nothing that could possibly be of interest or utility to anyone, and actually getting to them generally involves some circuitous route, if you assume that you can even find a way to get them at all.
Entrances are hidden, and if you manage to find them, you must first solve the Riddle of the Sphinx before you’re allowed to progress, and once you’ve gone through all of that you find that the “prize” you’ve been on a quest for is a discount vacuum store or a piano tuning shop.
I usually think that NoVA’s inconvenient nature is the result of very little, if any, planning.  If there is any planning, it’s really terrible planning.
Other times, like today, I think that there is, in fact, a lot of planning that goes into it.  Diabolical planning.  That is, the plan is to make everything as inconvenient as possible.
In any case, after slaying the dragon, answering the questions three, and stepping on the paving stones in the correct sequence to avoid falling into a bottomless pit, I found myself at Walmart
I wondered around aimlessly examining wares that wouldn’t seem at all out of place in a 99 cent store, walked past the anemic books/magazine section and found that there was nothing there worth browsing – though I was amused to see that there were two books placed side-by-side with the respective titles 99 Minutes in Heaven and 23 Minutes in Hell – and made my way back to the Tire Shop.
By the time I’d stopped at Sheetz to get something to drink, it was about 4:30, so I went inside the Tire Shop and sat in the waiting area.  The TV was tuned to Fox News, which was giving Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker the opportunity to flat-out lie and say that he’s totally not interested in crushing unions, while simultaneously bitching about the parasitic nature of unions and talking about how someone really ought to crush them.  Some other Republican got some free airtime to talk about how privatizing Medicare will fix everything.  Then, in the interest of being fair and balanced, they gave a Democrat the opportunity to talk, though there was no cause to be alarmed, as it was a retired Democrat – Ed Koch – who was there to bitch about the President.
And then it was time for Glenn Beck**.

I tried to tune him out, especially when he – and I’m not kidding or engaging in hyperbole – started crying while talking about how much he loves George Washington, but he was inescapable.
The focus of his show was on the “secret” history of the contributions of African-Americans and women in the founding of the US.  Which, you know, great.  There was some legitimately interesting information – though I have no doubt that there was a lot of embellishment involved – but the two points he seemed to be making were that because a couple of women and black people were treated reasonably well that totally invalidates things like slavery, the three-fifths compromise, and the fact that for much of our history women didn’t have the right to vote, and that there’s a conspiracy to keep people from knowing about how totally awesome life was for women and black people because liberals only want to focus on the negative.  That whole “paying attenion to reality” thing.
He was all, “You guys, it’s totes okay that the founding fathers owned slaves ‘cause they, like, had black friends!  George Washington – *sniffle* – and this one black guy were, like, total BFFs!  For reals, they were besties!  But liberals only want you to think about the yucky stuff.  Oh Em Gee, liberals!  It’s time that everyone learned the truth:  everything was awesome!”
There was just so, so much wrong with the whole thing, but I don’t’ really have the energy to rant about it any further.
Anyway, 5:30 came and went, and eventually I was the only person still waiting there. 
Strewn amidsts the copies of magazines like Ladies Home Journal and Redbook - Note:  WTF? - in the waiting area was a book titled Where Will You Be In Five Years?
Probably still here, waiting for them to finish my Inspection, I thought.
Finally, a bit after 6, someone called my name.
The on bright spot in all of this was the surprising discovery that I only owed $16.  That shouldn’t have been a surprise – that’s how much the Safety Inspection costs, after all – but hours (Centuries?) earlier when I’d done the paperwork for the Inspection, I had authorized them to fix anything costing under $30 that needed to be fixed in order to pass the Inspection, so I was certain that they would have found something that cost $29.99 that “needed" to be fixed.
And so, finally, I was on my way, ready to drive the two miles – a total of fifteen minutes – to get home.
I left work three hours earlier than usual, and got home two hours later than usual.  *Sigh*
Now, any one of these things that I’ve been bitching about would have just been a minor inconvenience.  Hell, even a few of them lumped together would have only amounted to a negligible increase in rage levels.  But all of them, piled one on top of the other…it was like if there were some sort of textbook on “Why Jon Is So Full Of Hate,” this afternoon would have been included in it as a case study.

*I blame all of the proverbial and metaphorical concepts I made use of for a portion of the day’s trouble, frankly.  Damned figurative language.
**Imagine me saying this the way Homer said, “And that’s when the C.H.U.D. came out.”

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