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Although my rants used to be the cornerstone of this blog, I’ve largely let that kind of bloviating fall by the wayside in the past couple of years. Mostly, I just don’t have time to sit around for an hour and type up a hyperbolic complaint that, in the grand scheme of things, does nothing to help solve my problems. However, there are times when I feel like a tirade is in order — lest I go quietly mad. Right now is one of those times.
I’ll start with something nice, though. A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I spent a few days in Michigan, visiting family and friends in my hometown. It was actually a really good trip, filled with pretty decent weather, lots of catching up, some home-cooked meals and a few fun outings. More than anything, it was an opportunity to get some different scenery, drive some different cars, work in a different place and just enjoy the change. My daily routine here at home varies little from day to day, and simply gazing upon new things — even when they weren’t necessarily better things, as aspects of my old neighborhood can be a tad bit depressing at times what with how far they’ve fallen — was just what I needed.
As soon as we got back, though — and I mean literally within hours — the trouble started. It arrived in the form of a letter from a collections agency, which claimed I owed AT&T over $1,000 in unpaid bills for a wireless account that I knew absolutely nothing about. In fact, I’ve maintained every one of my accounts in good standing for my entire life — the idea that I was late on anything was patently absurd. Alarm bells started going off, though, when I realized that the collections agency was the same as one that my parents reported had contacted them at their Michigan address, apparently looking for me there. I decided to just call the creditor, AT&T, and get to the bottom of it.
Bad news: Some ass apparently opened an AT&T account using my name and social security number, then over the course of three months somehow racked up over $800 in charges and paid none of them. Two New York City area number were active on the account, and it had a bill-to address of somewhere in Indianapolis, IN. Interestingly, the account was opened just a matter of days after I noticed an unsolicited Hard Inquiry on my credit report from T-Mobile, another wireless provider. It seems that somebody got hold of my personal information somehow and used it to shop around for wireless service. They apparently did not succeed in getting any from T-Mobile — at least, not to my knowledge! — but perhaps because I was already a current AT&T account holder, the thieves were able to more easily bypass security procedures and open a new account using my data.
Anyway, so now I’m in identity theft hell, just like the schlubs you always see on those Lifelock commercials (and don’t let anyone fool you; Lifelock is hardly a reputable company themselves). As soon as I learned of the theft, I called AT&T’s fraud department and asked them to investigate. I also filed a police report and an identity theft affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission, and put a fraud alert on all three of my credit reports. Although it was a lot of information to absorb, everything seemed to be going well.
Except today I called AT&T to find out why I still hadn’t received their fraud investigation packet after 8 business days, and they informed me that while they showed A) a record of my having called them and reporting the fraud, and B) a record of them having recalled the account from the collection agency for further study, they did not show a record of anyone ever bothering to send me that packet. So, I got to waste another half hour of my time on the phone going through the whole damn mess again, and getting them to send me a replacement. This time, when I got done, I called right back and got somebody else in the fraud department to verify that the packet request had been submitted, which it was.
In a moment that was good for an ironic laugh, my AT&T cell phone dropped my connection to AT&T’s fraud department in the middle of my first call. It was apparently “Get fucked by AT&T day” all around, here.
Then, within literally seconds of my hanging up on the AT&T guys, I got a call from the real estate agency saying that a buyer wanted to come see our house in twenty minutes. My wife and I spent those minutes flying around in a panic — for you see, the kitchen wasn’t cleaned up from lunch, the bed wasn’t made, the laundry machine was running, yada yada. We finally got everything set up, I crammed my work shit into a backpack and we went up to my parents’ place to wait out the showing. It didn’t help that, throughout all of this, I was slammed with design work for a client that just came up this morning and needed to be done ASAP.
After the one-hour “showing window” elapsed, we went back home only to find that there was no evidence that anyone actually came to see our house at all. Again. I think three out of the last four showings have ended that way, and I’m getting royally sick of being jerked around.
Not helping my mood was the fact that my TiVo HD apparently locked up hard right at the instant the Daylight Savings Time change took effect, and thus I did not get a recording of the second episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, which I really enjoyed the premiere of last week. I checked the TiVo Community Forums for others complaining of this, but found nothing. I’m tempted to blame it all on Comcast, because that’s usually a safe bet.
Anyway, if only to worsen our moods, once we saw that the house showing had been a bust we checked out the real estate listings here in our community. We found a whole slew of similar models on sale at our price point, plus several below it — including one over $10,000 below us, which didn’t even appear to be a short sale as far as I can tell. They don’t have the extended den like we do, but seriously — that’s like the only advantage we’ve got on anybody. At least in this market, where all people seem to care about is the goddamned view of a fake lake or the overwrought great room wall unit, neither of which we can boast.
This was kind of hard news to take, especially after yesterday we just booked a return trip to Frisco, TX to visit our friends and colleagues there. They’re even going to hold the company’s holiday party while I’m in town, since I’ve never been able to attend one due to my telecommuting. Feeling nothing but further away from our eventual goal of selling this house and getting out of here isn’t going to make it any more pleasant to tour the beautiful neighborhoods and see all of the cool people that I could be working and hanging out with in Texas.
There have been some good things happening of late — our trip to Michigan that I mentioned, plus some really beautiful (and COOL!) weather and some other various happenings here at home. On the long-term front, however, I continue to feel like things just aren’t going anywhere — and at times it’s really frustrating. You get to thinking about all kinds of things that you wish you’d done differently, and in the end you always arrive at the inevitable conclusion that you just can’t control any of it. So you go back to your work, your video games or your chores because there’s nothing else to do.
I shall endeavor to post again when I have something more uplifting to say.