Tag Archives: transportation

Lamster

I am officially out of my old apartment, which is a great relief. I moved out four years to the date that I moved in. I managed to do it without getting an official eviction notice, which I’ll never understand. A bit over a week ago, I received a second pay or vacate notice demanding only half of the rent that I owe. It was either a big mistake in my favor or a passive, half-assed way of trying to make a deal with me. I bailed.

I got everything I need (and many things I don’t) out of the apartment, and I cleaned a bit. I was able to sell, donate, throw away, or give away a lot. I didn’t clean as well as I normally would have liked, but I did a better job than most people would have in such a hurry. I did abandon my bed (the frame broke three  moves ago and the mattress was in bad shape) and a desk. These things were too big for me to carry, dismantle, or transport by myself, and not in good enough condition to sell. I feel a little guilty. I also left a lot of stuff on my porch for Salvation Army home pickup. At least I vacuumed and cleaned the bathroom and kitchen. I did not leave a forwarding address. I haven’t returned my car yet, and so I was trying to move discreetly to avoid repo man detection. The neighbors can be pretty nosy, but mostly left me alone. One actually yelled to me through her window when I couldn’t even see who was talking to me. “Are you moving? Where are you going?” I just named a random neighborhood and left her with no further details.

My cat and I are still in Seattle and staying with a friend. I’m in a much nicer neighborhood and a much smaller living space. I still have some things I’m selling online. I’ve actually done quite well with selling things. Perhaps I should rethink my career.

I am giving my friend some money for me the use of her basement and sofa, and I’ll buy her some food with my food stamps. This place costs more than twice what I was paying in rent and it’s so much smaller. Living in the ghetto has its advantages, I guess. I don’t see how she can afford to live here.

She actually offered to let me stay here a long time ago, long before my problems got too serious. I could barely afford my first rent hike, and I think that’s around the time she first offered. I’m very thankful, but I really need to get back on my feet. My bank account was charged for my UK passport, so I’m assuming it went through. At least I hope they wouldn’t charge me for it if I’m not getting it! I still have too many things to take overseas. I wish it weren’t so psychologically difficult for me to part with things.

My cat is not happy. My friend has a cat of her own, and for reasons I don’t entirely understand, she’s worried about the cats interacting. She’s worried that neighbors will complain if they fight, which I think is rather silly. We don’t even share walls. The cats will certainly fight, but that seems like a bad reason to keep my little girl locked in the freezing basement. I put a little space heater down there, and I will get some kind of sleeping mat and sleep in the basement with the cat. I’ll have more privacy that way, anyway. Poor kitty. Her meows sound so despondent. She only stops crying when I go down to the basement with her.

I think this will work out for the time being. I really hope that my friend and I don’t have any major personality clashes. We’re both neurotic in our own ways. If it works out better than planned, I can maybe wait a little longer to move to the UK so I can take better care of the cat situation. This month marks 14 years I’ve had her.

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Filed under Home Life, Materialism

Destination Unknown

At the urging of a dear friend (you know who you are), I broke down and called my “second mother.” I can’t think of what else to call her, but she was my mother’s closest friend and I have known her since I was about three years old. She is the woman who gave me the $500 graduation present which I used on my overdue electric bill. I was afraid to tell her about what was going on in my life, mostly because I knew she wouldn’t hesitate to help me out. Part of it is that I don’t want help– or (more accurately) I don’t want to need help. I don’t want to need anything I can’t get myself. She has lent me money before, and I remember every penny. When I was living in a disgusting mold-ridden apartment, my roommate moved out and I couldn’t afford the rent by myself. I didn’t want to bring a new roommate into an apartment where even the light bulbs got moldy, so I needed to get out, too. Even though I was working two part-time temp jobs on top of my job at the phone sex line (where my pay was unpredictable), I was barely getting by and did not have enough money for deposits and a truck rental. My second mother covered my rent for the month until I moved out and got my next place (which wasn’t much better than the Mold Hole and my new roommate was an angry cokehead). She has told me not to worry about paying her back. She has told me over and over again to come to her if I have a problem and that my mother would have done the same for any of her kids. But I didn’t want to because I was worried that I would never be able to make it up to her.

I called her and just blurted it all out. I told her just about everything. And then she offered to let me live with her.

She made me a similar offer once before when one of my temp jobs ended, but I didn’t take her up on it. I would have felt guilty and I was worried I would get stuck there. She lives in a small town 2,500 miles away, and very near a place that has some awful, awful memories and some very toxic people. While not set in stone, it’s more likely than not that I am going. Unlike my local friends, she has a large home where I won’t be constantly underfoot. I feel this is a giant step backwards, but it isn’t. She has also offered to help me leave the country to be closer to my non-psycho living relatives. While I stay with her, I can get my immigration paperwork in order while I temp (or something) and help her around the house. My acceptance of her offer doesn’t mean that I’m any more comfortable with it than I was before. I hope this doesn’t sound overly mopey, but I’ve never been treated with unconditional kindness and it feels weird. It’s a pretty amazing thing to screw up, get angry with yourself, but to know that someone cares about you anyway. I certainly wasn’t raised like that.

Shortly after my last post, my actual landlord (not the owners of the condo) showed up unannounced. I’m surprised that he had never called me at any time during this mess, not even to return my call. I didn’t answer the door. I generally don’t when someone shows up unannounced. Why should I? Besides, I was in my pajamas and on the phone with a friend of mine who is currently in the hospital. Mr. Scary Landlord should have called first. I have become a terrible tenant, but I still have rights and he hasn’t taken charge of anything.

Mr. Landlord called me and left me a message saying that he had wanted to work things out without the court system, but that it was most likely not going to happen.

And I got scared. It took me over a day to get up the nerve to return his call. But I did it. I called the number he left me, and he didn’t answer and his voice mailbox was full. I called his office, and once again no answer. I left a message asking him what his plans were, and I told him I would be out soon. I just want to know. Once again, he has not returned my call. I called a third time. Nothing.

Between worrying about repo men and worrying about my landlord, I spend a lot of time hiding indoors. Until I called the local tenant’s union.

The tenant’s union has the worst hours ever. Their hotline is not so hot. You can only call from 3pm to 6pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, and you have to call over and over to get through. After two days of calling, I finally got through on Wednesday and got some of my questions answered. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get booted out any minute or what was going to happen if they chose to go through the court system. So now I understand a bit more. I have at least a week. Nothing has been filed yet.

I have been living on my own since I was 17, and over time I’ve accumulated quite a lot of stuff. Back in the day, I had money, which is a bad thing to have when you have hoarding tendencies. For the most part, I stopped accumulating stuff years ago, but I have not yet done away with every remnant of the old me. Now I have to fit it all into my car. I can’t just toss everything in boxes and go, and since I’m broke, I would like to get money for whatever I can. I’m using Craigslist and Amazon, and I am carting things around to local stores. When it gets closer to the time I absolutely have to get out, then I’ll be less careful, but I’ll need some money for the road at least. And I can catch up on car payments. U-Hauls aren’t really an option because they are prohibitively expensive for long-distance travel. Also, if I’m heading overseas in the semi-near future, I can’t really take a whole lot with me.

I hope to be rid of all my furniture by Tuesday, and by then I will also have sold most of what I’ll be able to and will begin giving things away. A friend has offered to haul my stuff away for me, which is a great help. This process is mentally and physically exhausting.

My goals at this point are to stay with Mom 2, find any old job, and get myself to a place where I’m not killing myself with immense pressure. I will also get bankruptcy underway while I  prepare to move again. I am fortunate to have dual nationality, so it’s really a matter of waiting for my new ID, saving money, and sorting out temporary living situations. I’ll probably be taking my cat with me as well, and that’s another complication, but gives me more time to save money. I will look for a job while I’m here, but given that I can’t even find a job in the next state, I’m not too optimistic about finding a job across the pond.

 

P.S. I know I haven’t finished the awful repo story. One day, one day.

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Filed under "In this economy", Home Life, Materialism, Obstacles, Work

Freeloader

This shirt costs $20 on crookedmonkey.com. Does anyone who would wear it actually have $20? I sure dont.

This shirt costs $20 on crookedmonkey.com. Does anyone who would wear it actually have $20 to spend on cutesy t-shirts? I sure don't.

A friend took me to a concert last night as a belated birthday present. We went to see the bands Gossip, Men, and Champagne Champagne at The Showbox in downtown Seattle. Working or not, nearly every time I go to an evening event downtown, I end up doing the same stupid thing — I forget about parking. What usually happens is I put parking at the back of my mind, drive to the venue, drive around for 30 minutes trying to find a free spot and then give up and just pay $13. I don’t have $13, nor do I have enough gas to drive around looking for a place to park, so for the first time ever I remembered not to do this and I just used my stolen bus pass. Hooray for thievery.

It was difficult for me to go out as I’ve been severely depressed and I have not been up to face-to-face interaction with other humans. I dreaded going. Truth be told, I’d rather just stay home alone than have someone pay my way. I hadn’t been out for a fun night in a while, and I never even step outside except to go to the food bank, follow up on on my never-ending food stamps application, or to check my mail. I saw two friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, and it was good to catch up. One of them even bought me a drink. With my free ticket and my free drink, you can imagine my amusement when I saw the stamp they were giving concertgoers in the over-21 bar section:

You probably can't read it, but it says "Freeloader." Everyone got the same stamp.

You probably can't read it, but it says "Freeloader." Everyone got the same stamp, but I was probably the only one who felt special.

Then in yet another joke of the cosmos, the first song that Gossip performed was “Dimestore Diamond.” It’s on their latest album and I had never heard it.

Everybody knows the things she does to please
Low cut sweaters with her skirt above her knees
She's a dimestore diamond

Everybody knows just where she gets her clothes
A watercolor painting in a Renoir pose
She's a dimestore diamond

Everybody knows but no one can tell
A homemade haircut but she wears it well
She's a dimestore diamond

You can call her broke, you can call her poor
But everybody knows that she ain't cold no more
She's a dimestore diamond

Shines like the real thing
Real thing
Real thing
Dimestore diamond

Dimestore diamond

Gotta catch you one
Gotta catch you one one
Gotta catch you one

Gonna get you one
Gonna get you one one
Gonna get you one

The first group to perform was a hip-hop/dance group called Champagne Champagne, and the second group was the dance-punk group Men, fronted by JD Samson (who was in another one of my favorite bands Le Tigre). Both opening acts were great, and Gossip was amazing as usual. The positive energy actually made me feel better, when I was expecting it to drain me further. I still feel sick and I still feel tired, but I’m definitely in better spirits. The biggest downer was that I had to leave at the beginning of the encore because of the bus schedule. My friend had offered to drive me home, but I was already feeling guilty about everything else, so I was firm and took the bus.

I was less interested in music and social interaction than I usually am, but I had a good time and I am glad I went –even as a freeloader.

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Filed under Depression

Stop This Rain (or Poverty-Induced Nightmares, Part 2

The repo incident, continued from here.

I don’t know how I fell asleep after that, but I did. Sleep is my escape. On the morning of April 6, I woke up earlier than usual because I had to take the bus all the way to work without using the Park & Ride like normal. Not having my car added an extra 30 minutes to my commute each way. I was already a partial bus commuter, so I didn’t have to make too big a change, but I still spent well over three hours each day on buses. Ghetto buses. I used my breaks at work to call the car loan company to figure out what to do.

When I first called, they told me that I would have to pay off the entire remaining balance on the car in order to get it back. That’s on top of about $400 in repossession fees and more in late fees. There was no way for me to get that kind of money in the time they allotted me. I reminded them that I had told them at least twice in advance that I would pay them in full on or before April 7. I also told them that I had tried to pay on April 3, both online and over the phone. I had tried to contact them at a reasonable hour, but I was thwarted by their business hours and my time zone. I reminded them that I had been unemployed for 15 months and that I had still managed to pay them on time every month for more than a year, but I’d had some additional difficulties and I fell behind after a long struggle.

The representative was sympathetic, and said she would see if they would make an exception for me. She was unable to tell me immediately the exact amount I needed to pay to get my car back.

I called back day after day. The silliest thing about it was that if they had actually listened to me, they would have already had their money, but because of their own haste, I was just sitting on it. Towards the end of the week, the representative at the car loan company told me that I could have my car back if I paid $1500. I was initially about $700 behind, and my third car payment had been due on April 12. They wanted the three full car payments and $450 in late fees and repossession fees. I hadn’t spent much money from my student loans, and I was working, so I was able to come up with $1500 on my next payday (during the week of April 13). I would have had to ignore other bills, but I could do it. I was also unable to buy books for school, which is what a large portion of that money was for. Technically, it was illegal to use a federal student loan to pay for something completely unrelated to school. I just wanted the car back so I could put the ugly mess behind me, and that was the only money I had.

After a repossession, they will not allow you to pay with a check or credit card, and the representative told me that the fastest way to pay would be through Western Union. There was a Western Union kiosk at a grocery store that was a ten-minute walk from my office, so I went there during my lunch break.

Prior to wiring the money at the main counter, I had to call Western Union on a phone at the customer service desk. When a customer picks it up, the phone calls Western Union automatically. It’s like the Bat-Phone only it connects you to the depths of customer service hell.

As soon as I picked up the phone, I was given a long list of automated warnings and instructions. I was told not to send money to any Nigerian princes or to anyone who may have informed me that I won a foreign lottery I had never entered. The message went on a long time, describing various ways that I could be scammed and warning me not to send money if I was in a situation that resembled any of their examples. After all of that, I finally got to speak to a customer service representative.

I asked the representative if I could give her my bank account information and wire the money that way. She said that there was no problem with that. She asked all of her questions (which took about 15-20 minutes), and then she gave me some kind of confirmation number. I went to the main desk with my confirmation number, and they told me that they only take cash. I did not have $1500 plus fees in cash. I couldn’t withdraw that much from my account in one day. I wanted to have the money wired directly from my account. I called back on the Bat-Phone. I’m not sure why. I guess I wanted to plead.

I listened to the automated warning about Nigerian princes again. I answered all the ridiculous questions again. I told the customer service representative what I wanted, and she said that she had to transfer me to a different department. She did –and I had to answer all of the questions and listen to the stupid message a third time. I had been doing this for about an hour at this point, I was supposed to be at work, and I had initially predicted it would take no more than twenty minutes.

I gave the next representative all of my bank account information, but then the bank refused to authorize the transaction. I realized that $1500 (actually $1564 with the fees) was an uncharacteristically large amount for me to withdraw at once. I begged the representative to stay on the line just a few minutes until I could call my bank on my cell phone because I was really pressed for time and I simply did not have 20 more minutes to call back and answer all those questions again. She agreed.

I called my bank and they verified my identity and lifted the hold. I was free to spend $1564. I spoke again to the Western Union representative and said “Okay, the bank lifted the hold! Can you run it again?” She said “no.”

“What?!”

“I’m sorry, your transaction declined, please call back another time.”

“But there was just a simple hold because it’s a large amount of money! It’s fine now!”

Again, she refused to process my transaction. I was pissed. I told her that I had just spoken with my bank. In fact, she probably heard me on the phone with my bank because she was just sitting there while I was talking on my cell phone. She continued to refuse to request the wire. I got very angry at this point and demanded to talk to her supervisor. Her supervisor came on the line and immediately started asking me the same questions I had already answered multiple times. Once she got to the Nigerian prince stuff, I just hung up.

I picked up the phone again and once the automated message started again I just hit zero zero zero zero zero zero zero until the zero button just stuck. I slammed the phone down so hard I think I broke it.

I stormed out of the store and walked towards my office. I glanced at my cell phone to see what time it was, and I saw that I had missed a call and had a voice mail. The voice mail message was from a man at Western Union. He asked me to return his call in regards to some money I had just transferred. I called back at the number he gave me, and I got through to someone right away. I gave them some basic information, and they told me to disregard the call because no money had gone through.

There was a payday loan establishment close to my office, and they had a sign out front that said that they would send money. I figured it was worth a shot. I was already late in returning from my lunch break and probably going to get in trouble at my brand new job. Might as well be shot for a sheep as a lamb, as my mother would always say.

I was a bit dismayed that the payday loan office also used Western Union, but I really just wanted to send the money off. I never knew it would be so difficult to give money away.

The process at the payday loan place was simpler, but once again the transaction was denied — this time for insufficient funds. I knew the money was there. It had been there when I had the other representative on the phone, and I had just lifted the hold, so what now?

I called the bank again. My bank gives account balance once you enter in your account number, before you ask to speak to a representative. There was over $1500 missing from my account.

I called Western Union customer service to tell them that they had somehow wired my money after telling me that they hadn’t, and I wanted a confirmation number so that I could give it to the car loan company. They asked me some questions and went through their records, and told me that they had not sent any money on my behalf. I even gave them the original confirmation number I was given the first time I called. They said that my original transaction had been canceled and that they absolutely had not wired any money from my bank account.

“But clearly you have. My money has vanished.

They told me over and over again that they had not sent my money. I called the bank again. They verified that Western Union had definitely sent my money, and they gave me a transaction number. The number did not help me deal with Western Union, but was good for my own verification. I called Western Union again and told them that my bank had verified the transaction and gave me a transaction number. This may be obvious, but my bank’s transaction number did nothing to prove or disprove any of Western Union’s claims. The bank’s transaction number could not double as Western Union’s confirmation number, and was no good to my car loan company.

I called the car loan company. They told me that they had not received any money from me, and actually could not claim the money from Western Union until I provided them with a Western Union confirmation number. I called Western Union again. And again. And again. A few times, I got disconnected. A few times I hung up to call either the bank or the car loan company again. Several times, Western Union would transfer me to an automated system that would ask me to enter my confirmation number — which was what I was calling to get from them. If I pressed zero, the call would be disconnected. If I just waited and didn’t enter anything, the call would be disconnected. I was then forced to start over. Every single time I had to start over, I would have to answer the same set of questions and tell them my name, the spelling of my name, my address, my phone number, the name of my bank, and my account number. I did this over and over and over for three hours.

I wanted to die. Or kill someone. Or both. I had been trying to send money (or at least find the money I may or may not have sent) for three hours, all the while missing work and (possibly worse) missing pay and annoying my new boss.

I called Western Union one last time. I don’t know what the problem had been the other many times I had called, but the woman I spoke to was finally able to give me the confirmation number to give to the car loan office. I asked her why it was such a huge ordeal to get such a simple thing, and she had no idea. Before I got in touch with her, I had spoken to at least 13 different Western Union employees who had no clue about anything.

I called the car loan office to give them the number –and once again it was after 5pm their time, and they were closed.

That night when I got home, I checked my e-mail with my stolen wi-fi to find out that my job had cut benefits for temporary employees.


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Filed under Depression, fml, Home Life, jerks, Materialism, Obstacles

Priorities

When I was a sophomore in college, I was hanging out with my roommates one December day shortly before Winter Break. One of my roommates was planning to travel home for Christmas, and was trying to figure out the best way to get to the airport over 50 miles away. She didn’t own a car. I did own a car, but I couldn’t drive her for whatever reason (or perhaps I didn’t want to –I couldn’t stand this girl.) She told me, quite excitedly, that she could take the bus all the way to airport and it would take over four hours but it only cost $4. “That’s crazy,” I said. “Why would you do that when you can hire a shuttle to take you there for $20 in just an hour?”

Bewildered, she asked me “Why would I spend $20 traveling to the airport when I can get there for only $4?” Then she laughed at me as if I’d suggested she flap her arms and fly to the airport.

These days, I’m not sure what I would do if I were in the same situation. Frankly, I could go either way. There is still a pampered part of me that values my time, comfort, and safety more than money, and a part of me that is willing to spend rent money frivolously in order to avoid an uncomfortable situation.

My paycheck was unusually small this week; my health insurance premium is subsidized by my employment agency, and since I was very sick and barely worked for two weeks, I had far more taken out of my paycheck than I would have on a normal week–nearly $200 more. I was left with $280 for a whole week, during the course of which I am expected to pay $700 for rent and $90 for a bus pass.

There is a group of people I hang out with a couple of times a month. We drink beer or coffee and play boardgames. This is very important to me at this time because I need to do all I can to hang on to my sanity. Unfortunately, I live far away from anywhere we meet regularly, and my car is still out of commission. We met up last Wednesday night and I completely lost track of time during a discussion with a friend about video games, one of my favorite topics. The next thing I knew it was after midnight, and that’s trouble for someone who lives in an isolated area such as my neighborhood. I couldn’t get the wifi to work, so I couldn’t look at the bus schedule online. I took the next bus downtown only to find that I’d missed the last transfer by about 10 minutes. There were no buses traveling to my neighborhood at all. Not one. There was one bus that stopped in the ghetto two miles from my apartment, and it left at 2:14 a.m. I decided I would just wait an hour and a half and then walk two miles home.

I had approximately $180 left after buying a bus pass and some food. I was determined to wait for the bus.

I guess I’m not as strong as I give myself credit. I was alone at 1 a.m. in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, which is not a nice place to be alone and stranded when the bars are closing. The people on the street were not too threatening in general, at least they aren’t if they don’t talk to you. When the streets are quiet, however, there are fewer people to talk to, and anyone at a bus stop is a captive audience. A man was sitting across the street from me and staring in my direction. He just stared straight at me for at least ten minutes. Then he crossed the street, sat next to me, and continued staring. I got nervous and decided to call a taxi.

Yeah. Well get you there. Maybe. If we feel like it.

Yeah. We'll get you there. Maybe. If we feel like it.

I knew that the $180 I had left was more than enough to get me home, but I knew I shouldn’t spend any money. I was worried that it would cost $40 or so because I’ve had terrible luck with cabs in the past. The cab arrived quickly, in less than five minutes. It cost $22.50 to take me home. I feel fortunate that for once in my life I actually had access to some money, as opposed to other times recently when I’ve been stranded with nothing.

Had this been any other night, I may have been stuck waiting for the late, late bus and taking a two-mile stroll through the closest thing King County has to a real ghetto. Or I would have slept in an alley or something until the buses resumed service in the morning. And I would have been screwed if anyone took my backpack or anything like that.

I have resigned to the fact that I cannot pay my rent on time this month. I will not even be able to pay it next week because even if I hadn’t spent any of my $280 paycheck, I would be $40 short next week, at best.

My rent was hiked up last February, and it’s been absolutely hellish ever since. I simply can’t afford it, but I already live in the cheapest place I can find. I have health issues that make me not entirely willing to share my living space at this time, but I will commence a search for a sympathetic (or at least somewhat sane) roommate. I will once again have to unload most of my belongings, which should bring in some money. It’s difficult to have a yard or garage sale when you have neither a yard nor a garage. At least summer is here, so I can maybe hone in on community sales.

But what roommate would want me? I have pets, bad credit, I’m antisocial, and I’m messy. I’m really not made to share living spaces. I have done it before, and I have even done it successfully, but my health has declined so much and it has led me to seek out more and more solitude. I am reluctant to live with friends because I imagine major clashes. Perhaps the best situation would be some sort of group home. And I must make arrangements before I get myself evicted.

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Filed under Obstacles