I didn’t know I needed this

THE INTERNET GODS sent me this ad:


It’s not just an ironing board, it’s an ironing system. A whole *system*! For pressing clothes! And it’s on sale for just $1,999! And it ships free!

They’re practically paying you to take it.

The product description begins:

Whether you’re ironing table linens or removing wrinkles from a cocktail dress…

OK, hold up. If you are the owner of a $2,000 ironing system, you probably aren’t ironing your own table linens. You’re sending them out, or you’re having the housekeeper do it. I can see maybe touching up one’s own cocktail dress, say if you forgot to ask your housekeeper to do that for you before she left for the evening. Or maybe if you can’t decide what to wear to that charity gala tonight and have searched the dark recesses of your second walk-in closet (the one with all your fancy clothes in it) and dig out something you haven’t worn a couple of years. It might have wrinkles that need removing. And in that case, you would be really happy this system is still set up in the laundry room. From when the housekeeper was ironing the cloth napkins. That is, if you can figure out how to use it:

This easy-to-use ironing system features an LCD display with user-friendly navigation.

In my experience, “easy-to-use” and “user-friendly” are code words for “plan on 20 minutes to view YouTube tutorials.” I can barely program my coffee maker to brew at some future time. If my ironing system has “navigation” it’s probably too complicated for me.

I know what you’re thinking: Will the B3312 model will deliver everything I want and need in an ironing system? Fear not: The manufacturer also offers the B3847 system for just $500 more. Because spending $2,499 on a glorified ironing board seems normal.

If ironing is your jam – or you are, say, a professional seamstress – an investment in a device such as this might make sense for you. But for the rest of us – those of us who even still *do* iron – isn’t a regular old ironing board and mid-level iron enough to successfully do most household jobs? For money like that, you could buy a whole lot of professional dry cleaning. Or, a couple of really nice new cocktail dresses. Even ones that aren’t on sale. And have cash leftover to bid on the silent auction items at that charity gala.

For more things you never knew you needed, here’s a link to that time I went to Williams-Sonoma and analyzed their Thanksgiving table display.


Pen pals for eight years: DC DMV and me

dc_flagMy friends in the DC DMV are reaching out to me again, asking me to pay that fine we paid waaay back in 2001! I thought they had finally fixed their records.  I was wrong. The following letter is hitting the mailboxes – and cyberspace – today:


 September 12, 2009

Professional Account Management
c/o DC Treasurer
PO Box 37038
Washington, DC 20013-7038

RE: Citation 543536103, 9/7/01

To Whom It May Concern:

I received a call from Bridget at Professional Account Management on Friday, September 4, 2009, asking me if I wanted to pay the balance due on my outstanding citation (referenced above). Bridget’s call was a surprise to me, because my last contact with Professional Account Management was in April 2008. I was hopeful that my last letter finally resulted in DC correcting its accounting records.

I am not writing to appeal this citation, but to provide proof – once again – that we paid the DC Treasurer $45 to satisfy this citation and the penalty for late payment – in October, 2001.

Bridget stated that we are still being asked to pay this citation because we did not write the citation number on the check.  And she’s right; we didn’t. However, this omission did not stop the DC Treasurer from promptly cashing our check #580. One would think that during a routine reconciling of records, this random $45 deposit from us could have been easily credited to the only outstanding citation in our name.

However, apparently your recordkeeping systems (or staff) were not able to make this obvious connection. In fact, some of your previous invoices indicate that we paid $15 towards this fine, confusing matters even further. I have spent the past eight years trying to demonstrate to you that, if you simply match up my $45 deposit with this citation, you can cross this little nagging amount off your follow-up list and – even better – balance the District of Columbia’s budget, which, I fear, may have been out of whack by exactly $45 since 2001!

I should not be held accountable for this error. I paid. You took my money. Your staff failed to properly credit my payment to the one outstanding citation to my name. Your mistake; not mine. Best of all – it’s easily rectified.

If you would kindly review the enclosed correspondence – along with the copy of the check deposited by the DC Treasurer – and update your records to show that Citation 543536103 is paid in full, I would be most appreciative. It’s that simple.

In an odd way, your pluck and determination to balance your records is admirable (albeit misguided) .  Even though you are in the wrong, I must say your steadfastness over all these years has been impressive.  So impressive, in fact, that I would strongly advocate that your diligent folks in Professional Account Management should be given more authority to more carefully watch over all the District’s finances.  Their zealous oversight might, for example, have saved the District’s taxpayers millions of dollars, avoiding that embarassing $50 million shortfall that Harriette Walters and her cronies so cleverly orchestrated.  That is but one example (one of many I am sure) where this sort of effort might be better applied.  And, best of all, in that case, you’d even be right!

If you are unable rectify your error, which is amply supported by my attached evidence, then I would suggest that the DC Treasurer actually owes me the $45 that they were unable to match to any pending debt in my name. After all, you did take my money.

Once I receive my refund, I will happily re-send it to you so that you may have another chance to note in your system that Citation 543536103 is, in fact, PAID, and has been for almost eight years.  If not, I am afraid I may have to turn your records over to a collection agency and insist on proper restitution.  And we all know what a pain those pesky calls can be!

So, for the 8th consecutive year, may I kindly suggest that you focus your efforts on collecting fines that have not, in fact, already been paid.  I promise to keep writing you until you finally correct your error.

Cc (w/o attachments):

Adrian Fenty, Mayor, District of Columbia
Natwar M. Gandhi, Chief Financial Officer, District of Columbia
Lucinda M. Babers, Director, DC Department Of Motor Vehicles

(…oh yes, I most certainly did copy them!)

License and registration please, Ma’am

speedometerI got a little speeding ticket this evening.  

Officer So-and-So explained that he was monitoring speed on this stretch of road as part of a grant from Operation I-Forget-What and that excessive speed is a hallmark of aggressive driving (?!) and that he clocked me going 57 in a 40 m.p.h. zone and would I please give him my license and registration.

How was I supposed to know how fast I was going? My speedometer has been broken for, like, going on two years now! I drive by relative speed… but I guess I was relatively passing all the other cars on the road. Curt and I were talking about our days and the next thing you know, BAM.

He reduced the ticket speed to 49 so that I would only have to pay the minimum fine (gee, thanks), explained what the 27 different colors of carbonless copies meant, asked if I had any questions, and without so much as a perfunctory pleasantry, sent me on my way. Next victim.  Harumpf.

In a driving career that spans a hundred 26 years, I’ve only been cited for a few moving violations.  I am, in fact, a very careful, defensive driver. I don’t take stupid risks. The key to my success is anticipating the dumb stuff that my fellow motorists are about to do, before they do it.

My most recent speeding ticket – my first one – was 11 years ago. I was returning from Baby Boss’s two-week doctor checkup. He was wailing in the back seat because it was way past nursing time. I was hustling home because my coworkers were coming to my house to share lunch and ooooh and aaaah over my new baby.  There’s this stretch of highway where cars often run in the exit-only lane until the last minute, then they suddenly merge left. I always felt (and still do) that the safest thing there is to pass this area in the left lane, so as to avoid the idiots who evidently can’t read all the LANE ENDS MERGE LEFT signage.  I mean it’s really well-marked.

On that day, the car in the exit-only lane was a police cruiser. I proceeded by him in the left, not at an excessive speed, but a bit faster than he was going (because after all, wasn’t he preparing to exit?), but sure ’nuff, he hopped over at the last minute, behind me, then turned on his lights and pulled me and my screaming infant over. 

But instead of introducing himself like tonight’s officer did, he greeted me with a blustery, WHAT IN GOD’S NAME DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING, PASSING A POLICE OFFICER LIKE THAT??  So, I explained my safety-based rationale and asked if we could please hurry because I NEED TO BREASTFEED MY INFANT NOW, IT’S PAST HIS LUNCHTIME. And he was all, I was going 55 and you must have been going faster, ma’am, so I’m writing you a ticket for going 60 in a 55-m.p.h. zone!  And I was all, I don’t even know how you can say how fast I was going since you, too, were moving, but my BREASTS ARE STARTING TO LEAK so can we move it along please?? And of course, my postpartum hormones kicked in and the tears started flowing, because how ridiculous was this anyway? But I couldn’t stop it. And I thought I’d heard that officers often have sympathy for a crying woman with a crying baby – especially one whose milk had just let down with a vengeance –  but that was not the case in my situation.

Of course I was throwing around all of this breast-talk for effect.  Way back when I was mothering infants, I was not given to talking about my breasts. (I’m really still not.) I don’t even like the term “breastfeeding.” It’s too… anotomical. I was nursing, thank you, and I was the model of discretion. But this officer had earned no such euphemisms.

That cold-hearted bastard gave me a ticket anyway. I should have gone to court to fight it, but that was really the last thing on my mind, what with having an infant and a two-year-old at home. So, I didn’t. I paid it.

Not that I’m still bitter or anything.

Still, I think once every 11 years is a pretty good record.  For as often as I do exceed the speed limit, I don’t ever drive recklessly or aggressively. Just maybe a-little-too-fastly.   Oh come on, you know you do it, too. I was just the unlucky stiff who got caught. This time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to see a man about a speedometer repair…