AAA: The towing from hell.

So, my jeep started having trouble with the clutch in the Liberty Tubes, and having seen this before, I realized that it was probably losing clutch fluid. I planned to just drop it at the shop at 15th in the South Side, and hike it home from there. Sadly, 4 blocks shy of the shop the last of the fluid left, and I could no longer get the jeep into gear. I pulled the car over to the side and called AAA at 10:20pm.

“Expect a 2 hour wait right now.”
“OK, it’s cold, so I’ll head over to somewhere warm to wait. Just make sure I know when it’s coming.”
“No problem!”

I went to a nice warm bar, had some food and a cider while I waited.

At 11:25pm, I get a text saying the tow truck is on the way, so I head over to the jeep to wait.

and wait.

at 12:40am, I call AAA again, “Hey, where’s this tow truck?”
“It’s about 10 minutes out.”
“OK, I’ve been waiting in the cold for an hour, any reason I got a text so early?”
“The truck started to respond to your call after it dropped off the last vehicle, but it had to drop the last vehicle off an hour out of town.”
“Oh, where is it now?”
“The 6th street bridge.”
“Why would it be on the 6th Street Bridge coming from an hour out of town? Well, no matter, I’ll wait.”

and wait.

at 1:20am, I call AAA again. “OK, I’m really really cold, and shivering now, and I’ve been waiting for this tow truck now for 1.5 hours. Where is it?”
“He had to respond to a call just around the corner from you, but he’s just finishing up there and will be to you.”
“Wait, what? But he was coming here, why didn’t he come here?”
“The other call was older than yours. You need to be patient.”
“But why would I get told he was coming when he wasn’t?”
“Look, he’ll be there any minute now. Just be patient.”

I’m not sure what happened here (it was late and I was starting to pass out in the cold so my memory is fuzzy), but I got transferred to another rep who was much nicer after this, and she did get concerned about my well being and suggested that I authorize the tow truck to pick up my car without me there. OK, I did that.

I called a Lyft, and he got me at 1:50am. I saw the tow truck pull up as I got into the Lyft, so we went over to talk to him.. he said he’d take my car the 4 blocks to the garage. OK, great.

I got home and passed out. Somehow dragged myself out of bed in the morning, and at 8am was entering the number for the garage into my phone when it started ringing.

“Hello, this is AAA calling to inform you that a tow truck is on its way to pick up your car.”

WHAT? The robosystem suggested I dial 0 for an operator, which I did, then waited an hour on hold.

After an hour, I got annoyed, hung up, and called the regular number and got through to someone right away.

“OK, the tow truck is on its way to the South Side Giant Eagle to pick up your car right now.”
“OK, let me explain that I am really angry right now. [Details of what had happened overnight.] It has now been over 10 hours since I first called for a tow, and it has not yet happened. And now I find out my car isn’t even where I left it. What is going on?”
“The tow truck couldn’t find a parking lot or street parking to put your car at, so they took it to another location.”
(They could have called me and I would have said it is totally OK for them to put it in front of the garage doors, but of course…. the theme of this whole thing is lack of communication.)
“OK, look, this is beyond ridiculous. Why was this not relayed to me?”
“I don’t know. But the tow truck is there right now to take it to the garage.”

I head into work (another Lyft, sigh). When I get into work, i have some stuff to do, but at 11am I call the garage. They haven’t seen the Jeep. WTH.

I call AAA.
“OK, at this point I need to let you know I am livid. It has now been over 12 hours to tow my car 4 blocks, and this has not happened yet. Furthermore, my car has been left without my knowledge in another location. I’d like to know why it is that no one is informing me about what is going on with it, and why it has not yet been towed to the garage? Because I am tempted to call the police and report my car as a stolen vehicle at this point.”
This rep was fortunately sympathetic and she tracked down what was going on, removed this as a service call against my plan, and apologized that the tow trucks were not communicating the status to me (neat trick, blaming the tow agencies AAA is supposed to represent and interface for me.) Turns out that the tow truck broke down, so they had to send out another one.
“OK, look, I get that tow trucks break down, but this was not communicated to me at all. I am left wondering where my car is, and remember that we are over 12 hours of my car not reaching its destination 4 blocks from its origin.”
Again, side-winding apologies were made.

At 1pm, I call AAA, “Has my car been towed yet?”
“I am unable to find that information, I’ll have a towing dispatch superviser get back in touch with you about that.”
I call the garage, they finally have my Jeep. I don’t expect to ever hear from the dispatcher at this point.

So  I now realize that I pay AAA to just press a button and claim no responsibility for what happens to my car. I am going to switch to a different roadside assistance provider.


A Couple of Big Announcements

I promised this in the last post, but missed my “couple weeks” deadline, sorry about that!

In any case, here is announcement #1: I was cast as The Baronness in The Grand Duke by The Pittsburgh Savoyards. This is double cast, so keep an eye on the site for which days I’ll be performing this role. But also know I am cast with someone who is absolutely super phenomenal, so you can’t go wrong seeing her as well! I am really excited for this role because I get to play someone very different from any previous roles; and someone who is entirely unlike me. It’ll be a challenge! But I am performing with an amazing cast of great people too.

As for announcement #2: Cryptic Canticles will be putting on The Medium next year. We’re still undergoing the early planning for this, but we have decided this should be done finally. It’s going to be a major undertaking putting together an opera ourselves!

More on these later, but I am now very excited for what is to come in 2018.

Two shows, TWO SHOWS!

So the first week of rehearsals for both the shows I’m in is underway, and so far it’s very challenging, but fun. Challenging because there are a lot of new things here!

The challenge of Eugene Onegin is that I have to learn an entirely new set of pronunciations for the Russian, and then use them while learning the notes. But once I learn them, the music is just beautiful. And the people I’m singing with in this are some of the best, so I am feeling daunted by the company. I hope I can live up to singing beside them!

The challenge of Patience is the words. The particularly and especially grandiloquent words. The overbearingly flowery words of magniloquent nature. The archaic words that were not oft-seen even for the times. Basically: the words of many, many syllables that I have never seen before, and now need to memorize. But it’s good to be back among the people who are like family to me. And both casts are great and will make you laugh.

Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin will be at Bellefield Hall in Oakland, one night only: Friday February 17th. This is not staged, but with orchestra and in the original Russian. I am cast as Larina, mother of Tatiana. Tickets in advance: $20

Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience will be at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall of Carnegie, PA the first two weekends of March. I am cast as Lady Jane, singing on alternate nights as that role, the other nights as ensemble. Tickets in advance: $15



Orlando, and the reactions

I woke up this morning and checked the Twitterverse, and found something very striking. Of those posting about the attack in Orlando, my LGBT friends were all posting about how to support the LGBT community, but my straight friends were all posting about gun control.

I’m going to break a moment, and point out that I am very strongly pro-gun, and that may color how I viewed this. However, I have not chosen the guns’ rights issue as one of my fighting issues, and so I largely stay out of that battle. I understand why people have trouble with it, but my reasons are my own and they are private. I say this now so that you know my bias going in.

In any case, I thought this was an odd delineation of the groups, and while I thought both were valid responses, it still made me wonder why the delineation was so strong. A mention of this on the Twittersphere indicated that others saw the same delineation, but there were those who did not see this strong separation. Others also pointed out that they’re seeing strong anti-Islam sentiment in this as well, something I’m fortunately devoid of in my feed. So, this is all very unscientific and perhaps unrepresentative, but it did make me think today about the ramifications of this, and implications.

And then I realized what it was that made me feel so squishy.

Those that are posting about the community are because the LGBT community sees violence on their friends, their lovers, and often themselves frequently. It may be gunfire, but more often it is fists. There is a constant threat to people who are openly gay, trans, or queer, because there is so much hatred out there. Those who are in the community are asking for support because they feel very vulnerable this week.

Meanwhile, those that are posting about how guns are the cause are usually doing so without admitting that this is a hate crime. It’s almost a political statement, let’s remove guns from our world! That message supersedes the violence that is perpetrated on victims of hate every day. I know that’s not the intention, but when it’s the only message I see from straight folks, it starts to feel like someone has appropriated this heinous act for their political agenda.

Mind you, I don’t want to say, “Don’t hate guns,” because I do understand why you do (even if I don’t agree). But please, don’t let that guns were involved be the only thing you discuss in this. This is a hate crime, and if we don’t address the hate involved, we won’t address the many who are victims in similar (but less news-worthingly large) attacks every day. I do understand that guns exacerbate the hate, and escalates its outcome, but remember that the hate is the real cause here.

And then those that hate on Islam for this? You know what, I’m not even going to discuss that. It’s answering hate with hate, and that’s not going to solve any problems, K?

The LGBT community really does need our love and support this week. Remember that they are hurting because friends and loved ones were victims of this event. And friends and loved ones have been and will be victims of other hate-related violence.

Being a girl in STEM

When I was 5 years old, my dad (a Geophysicist with an affinity for computer devices) would let me play “Hunt the Wumpus” on his calculator. His calculator was a very primitive version of the later graphics calculators, which eventually became PDAs, which eventually evolved into what is now a Smartphone. But back then, in the late 70’s, what I got was a digital display that could (revolutionary!) scroll text across block windows that made 8 look like two squares, so I’ll leave it to you to imagine what the font looked like for alphanumeric text that is scrolling. Programs were stored on a small magnetic strip that you pushed through a slot — I knew exactly how to get the “Hunt the Wumpus” strip, feed it through the reader, and then play a text based game that had me hunting around an imaginary maze trying to use the clues to figure out where the monster was before he ate me.

When I was 8, my dad decided that his children should learn how to use computers, because he very wisely foresaw that these were the way of the future. He got us a TI99/4a, and taught us how to program in BASIC on it. Also, how to touch type. I started writing my own programs right away — I wanted to make programs that were like my old favorite, “Hunt the Wumpus”. So I very quickly graduated from the “HELLO WORLD” program (though, at 8, it was probably more like, “HELLO BOOGER FACE”) to figuring out if/then statements. I remember the joy I had when I discovered how to use the GOTO statement to create a loop that could cycle me through the if/then statements until it came to the conclusion desired.

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