Nov 14, 2004

Time, Writers Block and Scams

It's been a crappy day. When you go to sleep at night, do you have that list of vows you make to yourself? Things you WILL do or things you WON'T DO EVER AGAIN. Like you'll never stay up to play Snood for an hour. Or you promise when you wake up, you will have a quiet time before you do anything else. Oh and you'll wake up early.

Well, it was another one of those days. I did get up early, but I didn't have a quiet time. I couldn't. The owners of the house were here at 7:45 jack hammering the concrete outside my window. We are getting a new drain pipe to the sewer. Yay hooray! They're doing it at 7:45 on Saturday. Not so yay hooray.

I managed to find things to waste my time until 10:45 (what do you do for three hours, you ask? I don't know. I should videotape myself) I got out of the house. I needed to go write.

But first, I would treat myself to a few garage sales. You know, Saturday morning, a bit of fun before the work kicks in. I found a couple of sales advertised on Cool people advertise on craigslist. I needed a good stew pot, maybe kitchen gadgets. One sale advertised Franciscan Desert Rose china for sale. That's my mom's pattern. I inherited four luncheon plates, two salad plates and a gravy boat. Maybe I could find a relish canoe.

Well I couldn't find that garage sale. Or was already closed up. You know those garage sales, you say start 9am no early birds and those Hispanics from Boyle Heights are at your door looking for Franciscan Rose dinnerware. I went looking for another and got stuck in some strange cubbyhole of Westdale that got cut off from the world when the 405 and 10 connectors were built. It was noon and I was feeling anxious. The way you do when you've been window-shopping for more than ten minutes and that little voice in your head says, "GET OUT NOW!"

So I forced myself to go to my favorite home away from home for writing: The Un Urban coffee house. It was hot. The tables were full. The tables that weren't full either had kiddy chairs next to bar counters, or had no working light bulbs in their lamps. Get out now! Before you have to buy a latte made with stale coffee beans. Okay then. I'll go home. Uh oh, maybe the landlords will come into my house and steal something. What? The TV? My checkbook? I better go back home.

I did. There were now TWO vans at the house, a buttload of new sewer pipe on the lawn and six workers huddled around a woman planning their next offensive. Forget it. It's too loud. And they are too busy to go steal my incomplete Franciscan ware.

I had a yoga class at four PM at a studio near the 3rd Street promenade. I could go really early. Ah but I'd pay a butt load on parking. I drove around looking for free spots in the streets north of the promenade. Nothing. I stopped at Wild Oats to get a fresh vegetable juice and a shot of wheat grass but the customers were mobbing the deli area to sample the Wild Oats Thanksgiving meal samples. If it's free people will eat it, even if it's mock turkey loaf.

I parked the car and walked over to the promenade. Where could I write? I went to Borders and there weren't any tables that were free and at least ten feet from the homeless men who came there to hang out. Nothing wrong with the homeless. But these guys were either psychotic or had a 20 foot diameter force field of BO surrounding them. I tried Starbucks. Too many people, no tables. I finally went to the Coffee Bean and found a foot-square table that sat on an incline. I wrote for a whopping 25 minutes and it was time to go to my yoga class. No actually I went a half hour early, laid out my mat and tried to sleep I was already exhausted. It took much of t yoga class to undo the frustration of the day.,

I got home about 6:30, and there was a message on my machine. "Hi, this is Caroline, you hit my car. Please give me a call."

HUH? I called the number and didn't know what she was talking about, I didn't hit your car.
No, I have your number here, you left me your number.
Uh, you must be mistaken. I have a white Acura, I didn't hit you or give you this number.

She said I had left a note: she was parked on Second Street in Santa Monica, came back, there was a big dent and a side mirror was gone. And there was a note on her car reading: "Hi, I'm SO sorry your car got hit. Call me at 310-314-2683 and we'll sort this out."

I told her someone gave her the wrong number. She didn't believe me. She went on about the damage to her car and her surety that this was the right number.
Well, someone gave you the wrong number. You want to see my car? It has no damage on it. I suggested she tried flipping some of the numbers and calling around.

She called back a couple hours later, said, "I don't know what to say, the paint on my car is white so I got hit by a white car and yours is definitely the number on the piece of paper." I called back and left a message saying I was going to call the police and give them her info, she could take it up with them.

I started to worry: Maybe I DID hit someone's car and didn't know it. Did someone see me hit the car and rat me out? But how would they know my phone number, it's unlisted. I don't have my phone number logo'd on my car. No, if I did hit her, I'd have to have written the note. Did I write a note and not remember? Do I have amnesia? Post Trauma Memory loss? Then who wrote the note?

Then I really started to worry: Maybe it's a new scam: someone has access to DMV records, so they spot a car, get their license plate, look up their phone number and then call them with this scam. Maybe they'll drive by my house, hit my car in the right place and then file a claim.

I called the police dispatch. After a few holds and transfers I got a dead line. I called back and got a real live person. I told her what happened. She connected me to the desk. No one answered. She put me through to the front desk dispatch.

I told the dispatch lady what happened. She sighed. "You can't file a report if nothing has been done to you."
Well but she's saying I damaged her car."
Go out and take pictures.
You got a camera, don't you?
No I don't.
Then go buy a disposable camera with the time stamp on the film, keep the photos in case she files a lawsuit against you.

So I can't do anything to protect myself? I gotta wait for the lawsuit?
No, nothing's been done to you except a few harassing phone calls.
Well then can I file a complaint I'm being harassed telephonically?
The lady sighed heavier. Maybe I got her at a bad time. It was 10:30 PM, Maybe this was her popcorn break, or I was cutting into her rerun of JAG.

So I guess the police can only help you after you've been screwed.

SO now I'm on edge until I get that Kodak disposable and take the photos. Maybe they'll come by and hit my car to make it look like I did it. I should park up in the driveway. How late is Rite-Aid open? Would they have a camera with a flash bright enough to photograph the car in the dark? What if the photo guy doesn't put the time stamp on the photo? Maybe I should wait and get a Sunday paper so I can hold it up to the car as I take pictures. Like terrorists do with hostages.

I hate this. I know I'm innocent but until it's resolved, I'm on edge. I want to defend myself NOW. But then if I get antsy or pissed it will just make it look like I am guilty. The thing is, I AM guilty. Of something. Sometime, somewhere. And whenever I act out of defensiveness, that residual guilt hangs on me like old cigarette smoke in an ex-smoker's suede jacket. This is awful!

Wait. This would make a good "Desperate Housewives" spec script. I should just go with it.