Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The paralells between forced prison sex and mass transit

It's not that there aren't things to complain about, there's a lot that pisses me off. For example, the writer's strike transforming all TV into a soup of crap and reality TV that is slowly, inexorably, making our nation that much stupider. And me, because I watch some of this crap. And am disgusted at myself. Or the fact that my office keeps me just busy enough that I drop off of the face of the earth, and don't communicate with people, or have time to go out and get a haircut, although I desperately need one. My hair is approaching 70's-Beatle-esque levels of damn-dirty-hippiedness. But that's not what this particular entry is about.

The reason that many complaints do not make this blog is that many complaints are not the continual irritant, the small grain of sandy discontent that over time gets transformed into a beautiful pearl of bitterness and rancor. I feel I have a pearl, to express to all of you. Gaze into it's splendor, as I outline the parallels between (mostly financial) aspects of my daily commute and forced prison sex. This was inspired by yesterday, the second time this month that I have had to add money on to my smarttrip card in order to just get home. This is coupled with eth realization that even though I get the maximum allowable amount of Smart-trip money deducted from my paycheck every month, I will still need to do several recharges ever month. Forever.

1. My commute, like prison sex, is mostly involuntary

Well, everyone has to get to work. I have two options: I can drive, which is both incredibly irritating, environmentally unfriendly, and more expensive, or I can drive to the Metro, and take the train into work. I can't walk to the metro, it takes far too long. And, up until these recent increases in fares, it was significantly cheaper to take metro than to drive in. But that is changing. In any case, I have to get to work, like tens of thousands of other commuters. And taking gas and/or parking into account, either way, I am paying more than I ever have.

2. Like Prison Sex, the Metro Fee increase is given hardest to those people who are least able to defend themselves.

Metro has decided to put their increase on the backs of the people who have the least choice about it (suburban commuters), as well as those who make an environmentally and traffic friendly choice to use public transit rather than drive all the way in to town.

In their infinite wisdom, Metro decided to raise fees across the board, but to raise fees still higher on those commuters who use the system as it was originally intended, to commute from the outer parts of the city and suburbs into work. Let's face it. Metro was never designed to go all over the city, to be as useful and omnipresent as, say, the New York Subway. Metro is a spoke and hub System, designed for commuters. The metro rate increases hit those who ride longer distances extra hard, because the further that a person has to travel, the higher the fare hike goes. And, those who have to drive to metro and park their cars (like me) get hit with an extra .75 a day, which doesn't seem like much until you multiply that by 20-odd days a month. Then you realize It is costing upwards of an extra $15 a month, or about $180 a year. that is on top of the extra dollar or so that longer distance commuters like myself pay, each day, each way. Works out to another $2 a day, or $40 a month, or $480 a year. So, in total, Metro raised my personal transit bill by approximately $65 a month, or $660 a year. And, like a person facing prison rape, I have no good options. I can go ahead and take it, or I can choose the slightly more inconvenient, expensive, and irritating option of driving. Basically, I'm getting fucked either way.

3. Like Prison Sex, you get nothing in return for being violated

You would think that a fare increase would lead to some corresponding increase in service, or correlate to any sort of improvement. But it doesn't. Metro needs more money because they have managed their aging systems and overlarge payroll badly. Because the governments of the various jurisdictions that metro serves won't cough up enough dough, Metro has to cover its administrative and maintenance shortfalls on the backs of its riders. And what does that mean? For your increased, and entirely involuntary spending, you get nothing. Zilch, Nada. The trains still run late, all the time. The track is still poorly and sporadically maintained. Elevators and escalators don't work half the time. No one is going to build a line out to Dulles and Tyson's Corner (probably a rant for another time).

4. The perpetrators of prison sex are not usually the victims of prison sex

This one is short and straightforward. Of all the members of the Metro board, only one or two of them uses their own system to get to work every morning. The rest of them drive to work. None of them actually have to feel the pain that they are inflicting on others. It's like having Burger King run by an all-vegan Board of Directors. What do they care if the price of a Whopper goes up by 20%?

In closing, stop sodomizing me (and others) through our wallets. I don't care how Metro makes up revenue shortfalls, as long as they don't keep raising rates. Especially by raising rates on long-distance commuters. They can plaster very available surface on the trains and stations with ads. I read on the trains, it won't bother me. Cut salaries, starting with, say, the Metro Board (Cause if you have to raise rates to cover a budget shortfall, you aren't good administrators). Allow Red Bull to pass out samples in train stations. Sell cigarettes and porn in stations. However they have to cover the shortfall. Eventually, if Metro doesn't cover their budgets, it'll be their ass, too.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

There is a Turd in this Bank

It's been pretty quiet around Kvetch lately. Apparently all of us are totally content with our daily lives, and nothing kvetch-worthy has happened since a family-oriented Thanksgiving and a Turd on a Sidewalk.

Well, a Turd has recently surfaced in my life. It comes in the form of a bank. Well, two banks, actually. See, my wife recently switched jobs, and she needs to roll her 401(k) from that job into an IRA. For some unbelievable reason, as if she isn't capable of making decisions about her own money, there is a "spousal consent" section. Don't get me started on the lunacy of this- I'm pretty sure that how my wife and I deal with money is our own business, and her company shouldn't have to consult me to move around money that she has rightfully earned. But either way, I have to have my consent notarized- I guess they want to make sure nobody is forging his or her spouse's signature.

So I went to a local BB&T office, which was next to the grocery store where I was filling a prescription. Apparently, however, the new thing in banking is to be as big a bastard as you can be to anyone who doesn't have an account with you. This BB&T refused to provide me notary service because I am not a customer of theirs. Never mind that I own BB&T stock (which, by the way, has tanked since they took over the small savings and loan my grandparents originally bought stock in), because that apparently isn't good enough. But then the teller had the gall to suggest that I open an account with them ("we have free checking!"). Now why in hell would I open a checking account just to get something notarized? And more importantly, why would I do any business with a bank that refuses to help me with something as simple as a notarization? Look at my license, stamp the paper, and BAM we're done. But no. I tried the same request in the Chevy Chase bank in the grocery store, with the same result. So I now declare that all Banks are now Turds.

To resolve this, I decided to drive another five miles out of my way to go to a credit union service center, as I my credit union is a member of a credit union consortium. But at 2:30 on a Wednesday, they were CLOSED. Apparently, this service center is not open AT ALL on Wednesdays. So now Credit Unions are Turds, as well, in my book.

Now, there will be Turds on sidewalks all over the land. Normal people just call them banks.