last little Community Team reunion - Wednesday July 11 2001
I came home from work at 3pm today for a late lunch break so that Gretchen and I could mail a whole shitload of boxes to her place in Brooklyn as well as her parents' place in Silverspring, Maryland. There were so many boxes that I had to make two trips to the West LA post office in the Punch Buggy Rust. After the first run I left Gretchen behind to handle things for me. Not surprisingly, she found herself working with a most unpleasant postal worker. The employee was evidently resentful about having to do her job, the activity for which she receives a paycheck. This just confirms my suspicion about the West LA postal system. It's lousy with marginal employees from start to finish, and it's a miracle mail gets delivered at all in this part of town.
After my second run I parked out in front of the post office and didn't read all the signs, especially the one saying "No parking 4-7pm." Sure enough, promptly at 4pm, a meter maid came along and put a ticket on my window. The galling thing about parking tickets is that a city can set them to be as arbitrarily high as they want to and there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it. This one was $60 bucks, and it wasn't like I was parking in a handicapped zone or in front of a fire hydrant. But on this particular ticket I will have the last laugh. I'm leaving the state forever on Friday .
The grand total of all my shipping charges came to a little over 400 dollars, which is still considerably cheaper than the price of a UHaul, assuming my stuff all makes it intact. Starting out as it is with the idiots in the West LA post office, this would not be a wise assumption.
After work I took care of some business regarding the cessation of my Los Angeles telephone service. As usual I had to deal with more than my fair share of languishing on hold, and since Gretchen was right there we just sort of started, you know, doing it. We were in a pretty critical phase of things by the time the guy at AT&T took note of the scheduled shut off of my long distance service. I don't think things sounded entirely normal from our end.
In the past few days my former co-worker Kolja had organized a hasty Community Team reunion at the usual place, the Waterfront Caf´ in Venice. Unfortunately, though, the community spirit seems to have abandoned most of the old team members and only Kolja and I would actually be attending (though I'd be bringing Gretchen of course). I am, as you may recall, the sole employee from the old community team who still works for our once-common employer, though the Community Team itself has been dead since Fall, 2000.
Once I was done with canceling my phone service, etc., I drove Gretchen and myself to Venice in the Punch Buggy Rust, parking erroneously near the Venice Circle instead of Rose Street. This meant we had a rather long walk along the boardwalk to get to the Waterfront Caf´. Though we were late, Kolja was, as usual, even later.
I didn't really the sort of interaction that Gretchen and Kolja launched into almost from the start. It took Kolja virtually no time at all to offend Gretchen with his offhand criticisms of Orthodox burial practices in Isræl. "Did you hear about one of the chicks who died in a terrorist attack?" Kolja asked, "Did you hear she couldn't be buried in Isræl because it was determined that she 'wasn't sufficiently Jewish.'"? Gretchen scowled as Kolja kept on talking, gradually turning his semi-monologue into a defense of his German-ness and a declaration that, since he was born in the 1970s, he bore no responsibility for the Holocaust. When she had an opportunity to retort, Gretchen chided Kolja for his ill-informed criticisms of Isræli burial practices and his misplaced defensiveness about the Holocaust. "If you don't feel you share any responsibly, why are you acting so defensive?" she asked.
Then Kolja stumbled directly in the second most offensive thing he could have told Gretchen, saying, "Women who stay with boyfriends who beat them, I'm sorry, but they're just stupid!" Gretchen was once a union organizer and sexual harassment counselor (see, for instance, this reference, this reference and this other one) and such talk struck her as terribly ill-informed, and the two continued to argue non-stop. I sat there quietly sipping my tall Erdinger beer, unable to get a word in edgewise.
With those two contentious issues safely out of the way, Kolja and Gretchen mostly agreed with and enlightened one another about a wide range of issues, such as the unpleasantness of infants, the spread of influenza during wartime, and dealing with girlfriends after the cohesiveness of love has been replaced with the inertia of apathy.
When I'd finished my fish & chips and plate of calamari, Gretch had finished her pasta, second glass of Chardonnay and apple strudel and Kolja and I were done with our third Erdingers, Kolja drove us back to our car and we drove home.