Posted by: 4initalia | February 26, 2009

Are We There Yet?

Okay, so I’m starting to crack. I have been waiting since February 9th for FedEx to deliver my debit card. Lord knows I’ve tried. I’ve tried to contact them by email, ( by phone, (1800-Go-FedEx doesn’t work in Italy) and I get no response.

FedEx is like my personal mime: I wave, get in its face, and no expression ripples the serene surface of the blue and red logo on the package tracking website. The tracking report says that my package is nestled safely in the local facility in Crespallano, but none of my emails have convinced FedEx to ask the Crespellanians to give it up.

Is Crespellano in the American Embassy’s Consular District? If I do something really unacceptable in Crespellano, will I be able to find doctor who speaks English to tend to my wounds? If I do something socially unacceptable, like take out a Crespellanian, will I be covered by socialized medicine?

But I can’t go to Crespello, I’m afraid to leave the house, because if I miss the delivery, they’ll send the card back to the US, and I’ll have to start the same hellish process over again. Did anyone ever ask agorophobics whether they’re actually just waiting for a FedEx? It’s worth a shot.

Thank God for email. It gives me something to do while I wait. A friend emailed me a link to an article in the New Yorker. I once read a really interesting New Yorker article about Kawasaki Disease, a rare disease that can cause permanent heart damage in children. Several years later, Annalise developed those same symptoms: high fevers, red palms, red feet, red lips, red eyes. Annalise’s bright red eyes were rimmed in purple; she looked like a vampire, but I knew she wasn’t Transylvannian. She was very sick; the redness was caused by a swelling of all of her arteries, including arteries in her heart and her brain. But seven doctors, including several at a children’s hospital, told us that Annalise had “just a virus.”

Because I had read about the symptoms, I knew it wasn’t just a virus. Because of a New Yorker article, I knew that Annalise needed treatment within seven to ten days. She got it, on day five.

A New Yorker article saved my daughter’s heart. So I’m going to subscribe to that magazine for the rest of my life. Hell, I’ll subscribe from the grave. In the crematorium, while the flames are licking at my feet and I’m finally warm enough for the first time in my life, even though I’m dead, I will receive my weekly issue of the New Yorker. In Lakewood, my postman can just toss it onto my burning pyre on his daily rounds.

But I can’t subscribe to a magazine in Italy. I can’t get a single package delivered to me a single time. A weekly magazine? I’ll see the Postino in hell before I see a single issue. If they let you bring contact lenses to hell, otherwise I won’t know it’s him. But if you can bring contacts, and I do see him, I am totally going to say something mean. “Do you think men who drive scooters are compensating for something?!” That is such a diabolically perfect plan. Except for the contacts.

Because getting a subscription in Italy is out, I emailed New Yorker about subscribing online, and I got the usual “don’t call us, and we probably won’t call you” customer service response:

From: The New Yorker
Subject: Thank you for contacting Customer Service (KMM29936079I103L0KM)
Date: Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 9:57 AM

We have received your e-mail inquiry. Your message has been submitted
to a customer service representative and will be taken care of as soon
as possible. Please do not reply to this message. Thank you for
contacting The New Yorker.

A normal person, who is not trapped in an apartment waiting for a FedEx that will never come, and thinking of mean things to say to a postal employee, would not even read a “Do Not Reply” email. But a person trapped in an apartment waiting for a FedEx that will never come is not a normal person. Isolation is taking its toll, and I come from a long line of lunatics. My family has a history of insanity like other families have a history of cowlicks and investing in public utilities. So this cracking thing is to be expected.

A normal person would not reply to a Do Not Reply email., so here’s my actual response:

Dear New Yorker,

Thank you for sending me an acknowledgement of my email. I treasure touching missives such as yours, that push-me-pull-you dance of customer service emailers the world over: “We grovel at your feet, but don’t make eye contact.”

And so every Customer Service Do Not Reply email says:

“Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you. We will be in touch if our customer service representative doesn’t quit before the day is out, which is looking likely, but if you actually expect a response to your query, we don’t want you as a customer, anyway. Please don’t reply to this message.”

Why not, I ask? If you are really interested in my email inquiry, which you have thoughtfully assigned number KMM29936079I103L0KM, shouldn’t there be some sort of a bond between us? I promise not to reveal my bra size, and I’m not expecting an invitation to the employee appreciation brunch, but what on earth should prevent me from replying, just one time, to one of these Do Not Reply messages?

And so I have. It’s liberating, really. And my bra size is Double D. Ha! No, it’s not. Soylent Green is….none of your business.

If you reply, I won’t even look.

Andrea Gelfuso

No really, I sent that. I used to be a lawyer. I wrote long briefs, (yes, lawyers think that’s wrong, too, but you’re going to hate lawyers anyway, so we do things to make you mad so we don’t take your hatred personally). I solved problems. Big ones, involving national parks, and oil and gas operations, and laws with sooo many words in them that you want someone from Cliff’s Notes to get elected to Congress.

And I taught environmental law. I explained the Clean Air Act in three hours so that it was just as easy to understand as the directions for microwave popcorn. And if at the end of class, my students had little puffs of smoke comiing out of their heads, and smelled kind of bad, I blamed Congress. But maybe that was a little foretaste of h-e-double-toothpick.

I used to doooo things. And now I wait for FedEx, send snippy emails to Customer Service, and I don’t even have a microwave. The good news is, I did bring my contacts.

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