In Great Form

It is 8 a.m., and here is how my last 20 hours have gone: I discovered that someone at some unknown time put a large dent in my car; I have attempted the “most simplified” forgiveness form provided by the Small Business Administration for my pandemic assistance; and I have just chatted with two people from two companies about my ailing computer, neither of whom seemed to grasp basic English. I am in great form so far.

On the heels of spending way more money than planned on furniture, everywhere I turn in my personal life seems to be another project waiting to waylay my wallet. Including my computer, which I paid far too much for three years ago.

I know, I know — computers with all their toxic materials are supposed to be considered “disposable” and replaced every 10 minutes or however long it takes for the upgrade to come out. But for the kind of money I paid, I wanted this computer to last. Longer than three years.

I bought a gaming computer, which hasn’t been used for any game other than Solitaire. I went for the sound and video and stayed for the flashy glowing keyboard.

I had gone in planning to purchase an Alienware device, because what could possibly be cooler than a computer with a glowing alien face, but came home instead with an MSI, which has a glowing dragon instead. Not as cool, but the keyboard glowed in full color.

But now that my computer comes up every third day or so with a black screen and white letters saying it’s trying to detect a “media presence” and “no media presence detected,” I’m worried about the computer’s longevity.

After trying to find solutions online on my own last night, I determined to seek assistance from the company this morning. Mistake #1 of the day. Accessing the online chat took the better part of 15 minutes, and once finally there, Albert told me my “window is broken.”

I had to tell him I didn’t understand. He seemed to feel an appropriate response would be to repeat himself. We went around like this more times than we should have before I finally asked, “Microsoft Windows?” And he said yes, I needed to re-install “Window 10.”

I tried pointing out I was on the computer and it was working for now, at which point his even more limited English kicked in and I finally decided I might be better off with Best Buy. Although not really: Arshia was more fluent, but still with a stilted syntax (I think human, rather than computer, stilted, but I guess you never know these days — why have a person do a job when a robot can do it so much less efficiently?), and s/he didn’t seem to grasp the concept of being three hours away from the nearest Best Buy.

I had thought, particularly when a “service order” was being generated, that Arshia was going to put me in touch with someone who could diagnose my problem remotely, but s/he seemed to think I definitely wanted Windows reinstalled and that I would like to take my computer to a store. Three hours away.

Maybe later I’ll try again. When I have more fortitude.

Which is a commodity sometimes hard to come by these days, especially after I went back out to my car after eating lunch yesterday to notice the big dent in my driver-side front fender and door.

I know this didn’t happen in our driveway, which means I have no idea when it happened. I didn’t notice it at lunch the day before, so it most likely it happened either two afternoons ago while I was parked near the shop or yesterday morning in the parking lot. Except that there I was parked next to Vicki who works for the county, and I think she was still there when I left work for lunch.

At some point anyway, someone sideswiped my car and didn’t bother to stop or leave a note. (Which Vicki would never do.)

This is hardly the hit-and-run I missed last week while I was at lunch. Kara was an eye-witness to that one, which turned out to involve one of her many new neighbors. This is the one who, as each day goes along, appears more and more to have an extreme substance abuse problem. The kind of problem that causes one to plow a distinctive orange truck into the vehicle of vacationing tourists with a dog and a baby on the way. The kind of problem where one fails to notice she has left behind her bumper, license plate attached, and flees the scene without checking to see if the dad- and mom-to-be and their dog are all right. (They were, albeit quite shaken.)

Compared to that, mine is just a literal scratch, with not even any distinctive paint left behind to tell me who might have done this. So the repair cost will be all on me. I doubt it’s worth trying to get insurance to pay for it — that will just jack my rates up and perhaps even require filing a police report that will end, months from now, with a polite letter telling me no culprit was identified and they are closing my case.

In between moments of envisioning dollars flying out of my wallet, I attempted to start the process of filing to be allowed to keep the federal dollars bestowed on Pat’s this summer. I keep hearing I should wait to see what the feds do, but I don’t want to wait right up to some point where I learn the deadline was one day earlier and now I have to figure out how to pay it all back.

Never mind the headline I saw the other day that said something like half the money intended to help small businesses went instead to big business (surprise! Never saw that coming), the SBA wants a full accounting of the money I was loaned/given.

I mean, it seems like a reasonable request: it’s taxpayer money, given specifically to help keep people employed (in most convoluted manner congress could come up with), but the amount of paperwork they want — oh, my. And I’m on the least cumbersome form. Or so I’m told.

When spending this money I used class-based accounting to track it down to the penny. But instead of asking for this, the SBA wants paper upon paper upon paper. It wants to make sure Kara and I didn’t use it to pay ourselves $100,000 each, which would be a really good trick since the entire award was a fraction thereof.

And it wants to insure I didn’t inflate my rent payments, so it wants a copy of the lease (I’m sending one page, with the dollar amount), and either receipts from the landlord or copies of the cancelled checks. For utility payments, it wants copies of bills from February, to make sure I’m not goosing those either, as well as copies of bills from the award period — and cancelled checks.

Do you know how much I used for utilities? $1,480. And I am going to spend some large portion of today tracking down paperwork that no one is going to look at or review, ever. It would just be so much easier to check the box and say I put it all toward payroll — but I have already submitted some of my documentation.

It doesn’t really matter, because I assume that the very day I get this all turned in, congress will at last issue its long-awaited announcement of blanket forgiveness for all loans in this program of less than $50,000.

It’s feeling like a “can’t win” sort of 20 hours, but I guess there’s nothing for it but to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

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