Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Parcel Locker Saga Concludes

Whoever answered the phone on Tuesday and told me that they'd send a message to the carrier about the stuck parcel locker lock obviously didn't do their job. Or they didn't care enough to do whatever their job is there. Yesterday, the mailman opened the gate to our front-door walkway and put down packages that I thought had been from the parcel locker. Disappointing. Something from eBay for Mom, and for me, a package of DVDs from Koch Entertainment, represented by its E1 Entertainment offshoot, the only one worthwhile being a multi-disc set called Leonard Bernstein: Omnibus - The Historic TV Broadcasts, which will be out on January 26.

I called the post office in Valencia again. I gave them my address, my zip code, and was told that the locker had been vandalized. They said it would take a week for someone to come out to fix it. I told them that I had a package in there. Correction: A few days because of the package. If I didn't have my package by Monday, I should call again.

I don't expect great progress from the latest health care bill. I don't think the government will set its collective, bureaucratic mind to giving me, the middle class, a little assistance any time soon. It'd be nice if they tried to boost the poor enough to get them on their feet to make their way in the world, but we've all got the same beefs. Tax breaks, taxing banks, I don't have much confidence in it. But I still want the little things. I just wanted to have my package. That's it. In the scheme of the entire American government, that's not even a speck of sand in the heel of a formal black shoe. But it's my package.

Mom told me late yesterday afternoon that I should wait for the mailman to come. Lately, I've been getting up earlier, usually 2 p.m. (I go to bed at 6 a.m. after writing for most of the night), so I'd be up before the mail is expected. Today, I went out with Kitty numerous times (it's her birthday, so it was more times out for the mail than the usual one), every 15 minutes or so. Finally, he came. He parked in front of the mailboxes, and I waited as he got out whatever he needed, and he saw me and told me that there were no packages today.

I showed him the key, told him that the lock was stuck, wouldn't move right or left, and he tried it. He took out the other keys reserved for the parcel lockers, finding two keys for the "A" locker---one for the customer and a spare just in case that key doesn't work---but no other "B" locker keys. He took out the master key he has on a chain to open the boxes, and opened the "B" locker. Inside was exactly what I expected, that package from McSweeney's with The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers inside. The mailman told me that the "A" locker lock was brand new. The locks on all the mailboxes had also been replaced some time ago. I think it was actually about a year or more ago, but still in better shape than the "B" locker. The "B" locker's lock was still the old one and hadn't been replaced like the others. He then told me that there had been a guy at the post office who immediately went out and fixed broken locks when necessary. He retired, and wanted to at least work part-time, but the boss there declined. So they have some sort of service now that takes about a week to get anything fixed. I thanked him and walked back to the house, excited about the book.

The book was newly printed. It was declared backordered because they likely didn't have any more copies. And I was probably the last one to order it off the "Bargain Books" section of the McSweeney's Store website. $5 for it. I looked at it in the "Books" section a few minutes after I opened the package, and they're selling it at a sale price of $16. The list price is $18. Not only did I get lucky with that, but also with the book's printing. I slowly flipped through it like a flipbook, listening with pleasure at pages getting used to not being stuck to each other. And the new book smell. Ohhhhhh. It smells innocent, and I intend to keep it that way. I'm very happy that this book was born for me. I want so badly to drop everything I have to do right now and later this evening and just read. Not only this book, but also Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs, edited by John Bowe, Marisa Bowe, and Sabin Streeter. I read the sample pages on Amazon, which begin with a Wal-Mart greeter talking about his job, and move on to a UPS driver. I have a hardcover copy stashed in my makeshift box bookshelves, and I want to pull it out and read. I know I'll disappear right into those shelves, pulling out book after book I haven't read yet and want to read all of them right away.

But it's back to writing. I have to conduct a phone interview with a Marilyn Monroe fan who holds a public memorial for her every year in Westwood, which is in West Los Angeles. The essay so far has felt like trying to drill a hole in one of those black monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I feel like I'll go crazy if I continue writing it like that. So I plan to rewrite it, using the essay to profile the most recent Monroe memorial, noting the people who attended, the fans as deeply religious as this guy, the hucksters, also the speeches, the memories, the kind of day it was, all of that. He's a reasonable Monroe fan; he doesn't believe a majority of the outrageous "facts" spouted about her. Plus, one of his good friends is master biographer Donald Spoto, who seeks absolute proof before writing various things in his books, one of which was a biography on Monroe. Plus, he also wrote a biography about James Dean, another essay of mine, so I'm hoping also that through this guy, I can get a few minutes with Spoto on the phone. I'm really not confident speculating on my own about what Monroe and Dean might have done in their careers had they not died.

So that's it. I now have the book I've been waiting for, though I have to worry again, because I'm expecting a package of three books from ( that was shipped yesterday. The "A" locker had better be empty by the time it gets here. I just hope the same mailman that helped me today will have the package. Maybe he'll remember that problem, because the key is now stuck at the left side. It won't move like it used to, so the same problem might transpire again. Or maybe there'll be some luck and the person on the phone yesterday actually had the right address. She claimed the locker had been vandalized and needed to be fixed. It's just old, but hopefully it'll be fixed by the time the next package arrives. I don't want to wait as long for The Collected Plays of Neil Simon, Vol. 2 as I did for this book. But then, the mailman was never notified of any problem with the locker, despite that other person on the phone telling me that they'd send a message to him about it. If they had, surely he would have come to the front door and ask for the locker key. But they didn't. 90% of the time, I get efficient postal service. My Netflix DVDs arrive undamaged, my issues of The New Yorker unbent. I just want the same courtesy for packages. We shall see what comes up next.