Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In Cold Blood: “Immaculately Factual” No More. (Popcorn by The Colonel #31)

1 Not for here is the story of how Truman Capote manipulated the facts to make people he liked and his informants look better and his no-likes and no-helpers look not so better, but one will miss the euphonious label “immaculately factual.” It ranks up there in sonic attractiveness with “at once fatuous and vacuous.” The Colonel likes long drawn-out a’s. His favorite law firm name was that of the long-defunct “Schatz & Schatz,” with the a’s pronounced like joy buzzers.

2 There’s a wonderful category of words called “tosspots,” of which “tosspot” is a fine example. A tosspot is a drunk; he “tosses pots.” The common aspect of such words is that they reverse the usual order of names for doers and makers of things. Usually we take the thing (e.g., “shoe”), add the activity (“make”), and finish up with “-er” or “-or,” as in “shoemaker.” But tosspots are more direct. He kills joy, he’s a killjoy. It breaks your fast, it’s a breakfast. It stops a gap, it’s a stopgap. It scares crows, it’s a scarecrow. For some reason, they’re not joykillers, fastbreakers, gapstoppers, or crowscarers. Tosspots are vigorous words.

3 Richard III died in 1485. His skeleton was recently discovered under a parking lot in London. For five and a quarter centuries, he didn’t get no respect. Now he’ll be reburied royally, and his scoliosis will be posthumously cured under National Health. He far exceeded Rodney Dangerfield’s record: “I don’t get no respect. When I get on an elevator, the elevator boy looks me up and down and says, ‘Basement?’”

4 “The adjective is the banana peel of the parts of speech.” --Clifton Fadiman

5 The philosopher Max Scheler was accused of hypocrisy for being too fond of the ladies. His response was, “The sign pointing to Boston doesn’t have to go there.”

6 “By silence [an artist] frees himself from servile bondage to the world.” -- Susan Sontag

7 Ralph and GIGO are two food-testing robots. They reject (eject) poisonous, infected, or substandard foods. Ralph’s full name is “Ralph the Vomiting Robot” and GIGO’s full name is “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” They work for the FDA, and their motto is, “Because we puke, you don't have to.” They have been doing this long enough to qualify for a federal pension. They are mutually close and both oppose DOMA, Sharia law, and recreational blasphemy. They plan to retire to someplace oily, like Galveston.

8 Nice talk: “I’m sorry to be such a pain in the butt, but it’s the fastest route to your brain.”

9 Here's Tonik the human-faced dog.

10 The Colonel and The Colonel’s Lady couldn't fly back from Florida, so they drove back in a Budget rental car due back at Bradley International Airport by midnight Saturday. Around 6 p.m., when I-95 proved to be a crawling horror, TC called Budget from Bridgeport to inquire no-fooling whether the Budget office near Bradley was open, since the airport itself was still closed to flights.

Budget assured him that the office near Bradley was open, but only till 1:30 a.m., after which it would close till 6 a.m. Sunday. The Colonel’s rental arrangement, Budget said, was not one that permitted just dropping off the car; it had to be returned during business hours.

It was tempting to just go home to Middletown and return the car on Sunday. The Colonel planned to drop TCL off in Middletown, return the car to Budget, take the Budget shuttle from Budget to airport parking, and drive home in his own car.

TCL was having none of it: “I have no interest in being home with you out on the road.” (This was a moment like the one when Bilbo spared Gollum, rich in consequence.)

So the pair proceeded at a snail’s pace to Windsor Locks and pulled into the Budget campus around 9:30 p.m. Saturday night.

Since all readers of Popcorn are above average, you will already have guessed that the place, though well-lit, was closed as tightly as something very tightly closed. 

(TC avoids crude similes when trying to win sympathy -- never gross out people whose favor you seek.)

TC’s life experience has left him as resourceful as a one-armed violinist, so he started right in making a backup plan.

How about drive the rental car the couple of miles to the airport, pick up TC’s car, drive both cars back to Budget, abandon the rental at Budget, and go home?

Problem: cannot exit Budget campus with car except over tire-tearing claws. Not recommended.

It’s 17 degrees Fahrenheit. TC calls Budget. If apologies were horses, there would have been a fresh one for every mile back to Middletown. 

The good folks at Budget took great pains to explain that the basic problem here was the office was CLOSED, and what he had to do was come back when it was OPEN.

When in doubt, escalate. TC demanded to speak to a manager. It took a skilled and experienced manager no more than a trice to determine that nothing could be done. Best to sit tight till 6 a.m. when the office would reopen. His last best offer was to transfer TC to Budget’s roadside assistance department, to hopefully arrange for someone to pick up TC and TCL and give them a ride to the airport where they could pick up their own car and go home (it’s now 10:30).

TC was worried how long it would take roadside assistance to arrive, since it was the worst blizzard since yonks and roadside assistance might have a list already.

TC’s worry turned out to be baseless, since once Budget's helpful roadside assistance department came on the line, they flat-out refused to do it.

“We don’t give rides. We tow cars.”

Fine, TC said, tow it to the airport with TC and TCL in it.

“Then what would we do with the rental car?” roadside assistance asked.

(Strange interlude: did you ever have one of those moments when you knew the perfect thing to say, and you knew you’d regret it, but you had to say it anyway? Well, this wasn’t one of those moments. End of strange interlude.)

“Tow it back to the Budget campus?”

“Sorry, we don’t do that.”

“But the reservations and customer service department transferred me to you and said you could help us. Can you help us?”

“Sorry, there’s nothing we can do. Maybe the reservations and customer service department can help you. Have you tried them?”

The next call was to the Connecticut State Police, Windsor Locks Division.

A trooper came within minutes, laid some mats over the tire claws so we could drive the rental car out, and went on his blessed way.

TC and TCL drove to the multi-level airport long-term parking garage.

TC got out to get his car while TCL drove back to the Budget campus to await him.

TC located the car, mysteriously buried in snow on the fourth level of a six-level garage.

How cars parked essentially indoors get buried in snow gave TC second thoughts about his grasp of Science.

Was he out sick some crucial week of school?

TC managed to get his travel shovel from the car trunk and free the vehicle.

Then he drove down four levels to the exit, stopping periodically to shovel snow from the covered garage interior roads. (More cognitive dissonance. How did fresh snow get there?)

It’s now about midnight, and it would be no small task to find a stranger, colder, lonelier place than the long-term parking garage at Bradley International Airport when it’s blizzard-closed at midnight.

The mechanized pay booths were warm and friendly by contrast. “Insert ticket with stripe up and to the right. Insert ticket with stripe up and to the right. Insert ticket with stripe up and to the right.”

TC met TCL at the Budget campus.

(Fantasy sequence: TC took the time to check all the cars on the Budget campus to make sure they were all right, but to his surprise, someone had keyed them all. End of fantasy sequence.)

TC and TCL dropped off the rental car at the Budget campus and drove home to their Middletown house, where their plowing service had not yet plowed their driveway. They couldn’t get the car near the house.

TCL got out to chase the zombies from the house while TC drove around the block to look for a place to park the car for the night.

He turned into a dead-end street and at once got stuck in a snowbank, corking the street.

The travel shovel was not up to the task. Triple A said they would probably be there within three days, but no guarantees. The Middletown Police made a note of the location and wished TC the best of luck, urging him to keep trying to free the car if it was indeed blocking a street.

Around 2 a.m., still dressed for Florida, TC admitted defeat, took the luggage from the car, locked it, and trudged home to bed. It had been a 22-hour day.

In the morning, there was an e-mail survey from Budget in the inbox, “Tell us about your recent rental.”

Moral: when you’re lucky, you don’t need brains. When you’re unlucky, lack of brains isn’t the problem.


Christine O'Grady said...

It is my understanding that a tosspot is an insult to someone that alludes to a chamber pot...at least that is how it is used in Ireland.

Anonymous said...

I knew something good was coming and I finally got my laugh at the parenthetical fantasy sequence. the Colonel deserves the last laugh here though!