Or is it weak in what was formerly land of the free. It is surely fraying. I offer a single week’s worth of evidence from the front lines of my life.
Since I, too, am fraying at age 78, I’m not sure I can remember all the frustrations of just the last week or so, but I’ll try.
Let’s begin with T-Mobile. I decided to splurge on an iPhone 14 pro, since T-Mobile offered me a $400 trade-in on my 4 year old iPhone Xr. I treat my devices well. Usually, I keep my them longer; the Xr looked like new and still had 84% battery life. I received my new phone by mail and immediately used the pre-paid mailer to send in the old one. Fortunately, I kept the tracking number.
Eleven days later, I received a text from T-Mobile, asking me to return the trade-in phone. I checked the tracking, which told me it had been delivered to T-Mobile 9 days previously (2 days after I shipped it). I tried to access the T-Mobile website on my laptop and kept getting an error “our wires seem to be crossed”. About a frustrating hour later, I figured out this was because of some incompatibility with Brave Browser, T-Mobile and not my VPN. The website also showed they were still waiting for the phone. Before I figured out the browser problem, I tried to contact T-Mobile via a chat. It was automated and asked me to log in to my account, which I was unable to do. I barely avoided a head explosion. Long story short, three days later I got an email thanking me for the trade in. BTW, unlike when you trade in your car and pay sales tax on only the difference between the purchase price and the value of the trade-in, with phones, you pay sales tax on the full amount. Why? Because the state can (screw you in any way they like). End of the T-Mobile thread.
My car was making a strange sound, which varied in frequency with speed over the road. It was unrelated to engine rpm’s. I called the Subaru dealer to ask if I could bring it in. They said there was an appointment in 3 weeks. I asked if I could at least bring it in to see if it was safe to drive, lest I make things worse by continuing to drive it. Answer: “NO”. This was the dealer, BTW, to which I no longer bring either of our Subarus for service because they replaced my wife’s (she is a tall, slender - not a little old lady, but she drives like one) brakes at 20,000 miles. I was away when this happened and she didn’t know better. When I got back, I called to ask how this could a gently driven car with so few miles could possibly need brakes. They said they can corrode even with low mileage, if left outside. I told them the car is always garaged. No answer. No more business from me. I only called them when my regular mechanic told me this was something he could not fix, as it was drive train related.
So, I took it to a transmission place, which determined it was a rear wheel bearing. They had the parts two days later and fixed it in one day. He told me that the brake on the rear wheel was “locked”& he released it without difficulty and without charge. Now, these brakes on my car were replaced a year ago by our mechanic and I could always hear them squeal when new when the windows are open (rarely), so I forgot about it. So, I’m wondering if the brakes were installed properly and if the brake problem caused the bearing problem. Since both problems were on the same wheel, I would guess so. Anyway, noise gone my wallet is $500 lighter.
The saga continues. When I picked up the car, the transmission guy showed me that one of the lug nuts was missing from the wheel they worked on. He said it was like that when he got it and didn’t have one that fit. So, I drove a half mile to my tire guys (who rotate tires you buy from them for free every 6 months) to get a lug nut. We checked the threads on the lug and they were perfectly clean and un-rusted, which meant that, obviously, the guys who just worked on the car had lost the nut and could not bring themselves to be honest. Typical America 2022 - honesty is extinct, without ever having been placed on the ‘endangered’ list. Who knew it was unsustainable? Oh, I nearly forgot. A week earlier, I had to buy a plastic wheel cover for $80 to replace the front one (a cheap plastic thing) which simply disappeared. End car saga.
Next: the electrician. I got an electrical estimate for about eight items in my home. These included installation of a new wall plug in a bathroom, replacement of two ceiling fans, re-wiring two radon fans, as well as replacing several light fixtures. The estimate of $500 for the wall plug seemed excessive, so I nixed that. It was for my new Toto “Washlet”, the greatest invention of all time, IMHO. Anyway, the electrician, who seemed to be a nice young man, came and did the work. While he was still here, I checked the item as he finished each. The ceiling fan on the back porch did not work. He came back and had to take it apart, only to discover he had forgotten to attach an internal wire. One of the radon fans he re-wired had an integral junction box. It was definitely small, but he simply left it open and did not even try to fit the wires and wire caps inside and screw on the cover. I called him back and asked him if that would pass a code inspection. He acknowledged it would not and re-did it with the cover closed.
Everything else seemed OK. But… Next morning, I went out to my car in the garage, only to discover that one of the three new ceiling lights (a lightweight 4 foot double tube LED fixture which replaced an old fluorescent tube fixture) he had installed, had fallen off the screws in the ceiling and was hanging only by its power cable. Instead of using the hooks which came with the fixture, he simply put a screw into the ceiling at each end and slipped a slot in the fixture over the head of the screws; it was absolutely certain to fall, this was so negligent. So, I called back the company which expressed suitable regret. I said nothing, but noticed that the other fixtures were also loose and likely to suffer the same fate. He had, again, done only the absolute minimum to stick them on the ceiling, very insecurely. As with honesty, careful work in America is now extinct. Competence presumes some inherent desire to do an acceptable job. I wish that desire were one-tenth as contagious as Covid.
Next, my next door neighbor texted me to let me know he was having some major landscaping done, involving several pieces of heavy equipment. He told me he had walked off the property line with the contractor and told him to not go over the line, as I have an underground sprinkler system, subject to damage from heavy equipment. So, I kept an eye on the area. On day one, there were already impressions from a tracked back hoe which had run over all three of the sprinkler heads on my property, near the property line. I tested them and let my neighbor know they had been run over and think they were not damaged. I placed one foot tall plastic lawn markers at each sprinkler head and pointed them out to the foreman. I told him they had been run over and will have the sprinkler company check them for any hidden damage when they come in a few weeks to winterize the system. So, more carelessness and negligence. Since it is almost impossible to not be aware of all the unprovoked violent assaults in every (democrat) city, my perspective is somewhat mellowed. Though I resent all the aforementioned negligence and incompetence, I am grateful to have not have become or had any loved ones (yet) become a victim of a racially-motivated assault or robbery. These events, along with smash & grab of merchandise, are the other - under-reported - pandemic here. These assaults usually go unpunished, while a friend’s daughter was arrested and charged with a felony for protesting at an abortion clinic.
Ah! Almost forgot. After 8 years with a Kindle Fire 7, I traded it in for a new Kindle Fire 8. What with the trade-in and other promotions, I got it for about $15! I was quite pleased with it. Nonetheless, as with most everything I buy, there was a problem. About once a week, for no reason, I got a message saying the device had detected water in its interior and would not be able to accept charging until the moisture was gone. Only it had never been anywhere near water or even high humidity. Through searching the web, I learned that there was a known problem with the sensor. So I finally decided to contact Amazon since the warranty was going to run out in 10 days. They promptly agreed to replace it with a new one and provided me with a prepaid mailing label (these seem to recur in my life). This was Friday. As I didn’t want to be without the device for the weekend, I didn’t mail it in until Monday. Amazon contacted me Wednesday, saying they checked the device - it had no water damage - and were sending the replacement by 2-day shipping. I received a tracking email the next day, telling me of Saturday delivery.
On Saturday, I checked the tracking and saw the package - along with a second package from a different source in Amazon - was “out for delivery” and would arrive by 8pm. At 17:30, I got the notice from my front video surveillance camera that a package had been delivered by the USPS. I went out and found only one package - NOT the Kindle. 8pm came and went. The tracking still said “out for delivery”. The next morning, the USPS tracking said as of 12:47 Sunday morning “awaiting delivery scan.” Amazon website simply said “package delayed.” So, I wondered all day Sunday, whether the package had been lost or stolen while in the possession of the USPS. Now, I tend to be obsessive about such things, and I was. Long story short, the package was finally delivered Monday, two days late, after have been “out for delivery” 2 days earlier. Your guess is as good as mine as to why the USPS delivered one package from Amazon, but not the other, when both were in the truck for delivery. One of the many mysteries of life in the US in 2022.
I’m pretty sure there was more, but I can’t remember just now. As I said, I, too, am fraying but in different dimensions. I can assure you, gentle reader, that it was a week-full of aggravation, and unusual only for the grouped occurrences. Usually, life is a merely a steady stream of malfeasance. Watch for updates in comments if I remember more (and if you can still stand these stories of terminal decline of what was once a reasonably competent culture).