Thursday, October 02, 2014

Strict Construction of the First Amendment

"There's nothing like freedom of speech to help you identify the people who should be avoided like the plague."
  ~ Liz Braun

Sears sent a very nice young man out this morning to fix the broken icemaker in my refrigerator. I have been enduring a living nightmare for almost 3 weeks: no ice for my martinis. When I called to make the appointment and explained my problem, the hilarious woman in the call center said she’d put a Code Red on this request because of the hardship I was undergoing. My faith in humanity was restored.

They sent the part they assumed was most likely to be the problem.  It took the guy 2 minutes to determine that wasn’t the problem. He looked like he’d escaped from the Village People: tool belt, Hispanic name on pocket of blue work shirt, hella cool tool box that was more like a lady’s carry-on luggage designer purse-shaped thing, and haircut by a blind man suffering from some serious drug withdrawal problems. But the repairman made the haircut work for him.

He removed several cans of chocolate worm cakes from the fridge as well as several jars of pickles in order to remove the icemaker shroud that the ice container drawer goes into. (You can’t have too many half-empty jars of pickles in your fridge. I think he judged me wrt/pickles, but it was silent so maybe I’m just exhibiting paranoia. Frankly, I am afraid of strangers coming into my house and stealing my open pickle jars. I just hope they don’t find the unopened jars in the cupboard too. Otherwise, the two times a year I want to eat pickles I might find myself pickleless, and I’ll have to go out and stock up.)

Meanwhile, I’m on the phone with an insurance company trying to get a quote for combined home and auto insurance so I can tell Farmer’s Insurance to bite my shiny metal ass. First, of course, I had to scan the Declarations page from the Farmer’s homeowner’s policy so other insurance companies could give me a quote on comparable coverage.

That meant I had to engage with my HP Printer, which I have named in my applications folder as HP Shit Printer for reasons that will be obvious to anybody who has had an HP printer; or been remotely related to someone who has; or who has lived next door to someone who has during the summer when windows are open. It couldn’t find the computer sitting within clear sight of it on the next shelf, and to which it’s wireless ass is connected directly by a wire. Then. I couldn’t make an alias to put on the desktop from my “remote” hard drive (How remote? Two inches from my laptop. Might as well be the moon.) Or, I could, but the printer still couldn’t find the computer, meaning the alias didn’t work either – possibly because I no longer called it HP Shit Printer but simply Shit Printer. (I though the point of an alias was to take on a secret identity, so you naturally used a different name. Another point on which the printer and I have agreed to disagree.)

My faith in computer hardware, never very strong to begin with, has bled to death from the slings and arrows of outrageous pop-up windows saying pointless things like “Honestly, I’ve looked everywhere on this shelf and can’t find the computer, so I’m just going to sit here until you press ok, then I’m going back to the basic menu from which I’ll repeat this unhelpful message if you dare to try again.” Of course I tried again – it didn’t give me any choice except to click on “ok, continue to mess with me”.

Keep in mind that the Village People Refrigerator Repairperson is working within hearing distance of my computer and printer, and that was my problem. At one point, he explained the icemaker problem wasn’t the funky part Sears had mailed but simply a gasket on the back that was soggy and warped and instead of directing drips down into the evaporating pan under the fridge melting ice went straight into the shelf where my pickles are stored. He replaced the gasket. There will be ice!

Meanwhile however, I was unable to discuss the matter of scanning calmly and reasonably with the printer while trying to troubleshoot the problem. I already know the problem: I don’t have a comfortable relationship with inanimate objects, and the more moving parts they have, especially electronic so-called wireless parts, the more fraught our interactions are. Also, HP printers are worthless pieces of the stuff you try to scrape off the bottom of your shoe after you walk through a cow pasture, and my printer is self-aware and has a particularly vicious streak.

So, my efforts to get an insurance quote were hampered considerably as I tackled the challenge of interacting with my computer hardware under the disadvantage of not being able to exercise my unbridled freedom of speech. I have found exercising the First Amendment to its fullest extent to be very effective in the face of such challenges, and was thus reduced to negotiating by muttering under my breath to the printer about what a miserable worthless piece of crap it is using only PG-rated words instead of my considerable skills in creative profanity. 

In fact, I think I may have discovered another superpower: creative profanity as applied to insulting people or objects that displease me. I’m sure the prescient Founding Fathers had that situation precisely in mind when they wrote the First Amendment so many years before HP printers were invented. Once Village People Repairman left, I concluded negotiations with the printer in a more serious and profane vein and sure enough, it came around.

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