July 23, 2008
This has been an ugly day. Not awful. Not bad. Not depressing. Not frustrating. Not glum. Not humdrum. Just ugly.
Ugly: Waking up to a soft intermittent beeping sound that grew louder and sharper and longer and louder and sharper and louder and louder until it became the only thing I could hear or think about. It turned out to be the safety/hazard beep of an extra jump-starter battery hidden beneath the kitchen sink. I tapped a few buttons. Nothing. With the diabolical determination of a Guantanamo interrogator or a tired toddler, it kept screaming for help, attention, a soundproof trashcan, a lollipop, a severe beating with a hammer, submersion in acid, anything to make it stop -- so I finally dumped it into a trash bag and took off for the nearest certified hazardous waste facility.
Uglier: Driving around for almost an hour, from Radio Shack to AT&T to a defunct Pep Boys, all registered battery recycling centers, only to hear "We can't take that. We only take cell phone batteries." I insisted, but I knew it was a lost cause from the start: What uniformed store manager with a floor full of customers would ever accept a bright yellow, secreting music box from hell?
But then, a glimmer of hope: I realized I couldn't just leave it in a trashcan, not downtown, since it would probably be mistaken for a bomb. Come on. A loud beep coming from an electrical device furtively tossed into a trashcan near by a crazed woman, just steps away from the NBC building or a busy mall? Not risking it. So I drove to the nearest Pep Boys, which was twenty minutes away. In traffic. By now I was starting to internalize the sound. Play with it. Grow with it. If Pep Boys didn't take this screeching fiend off my hands, maybe, in a few months, I could actually stop noticing it. Maybe it would become a sort of white noise that only I could tune out, and I could use the battery to clear a path in crowds. Take it to the busiest beach on weekends and watch as a spot miraculously opened up. Shorten any line. Hmm...
Ugliness again: On the way to Pep Boys, I get yelled at by two women sitting on a bench in front of a liquor store. I had sprayed my windshield and ran the wipers when one of them spat, "Just wash your car." I was tempted to say something, but they looked ready to knife me.
Uglier still: Getting the kiss-kiss from a bloated guy in a blue van when we both pulled up to the same red light. "Hi. Hiiii!!! [mua mua mua]." Fortunately: My trusty Nissan, though filthy, has 200 horses, so I grazed the accelerator and let him kiss my ass.
Ugliest : Finally, finally, a kind and gracious Pep Boys employee agreed to take it. He ever so gingerly took the battery out of the bag, fumbled with a few switches and buttons I had also pressed and MADE THE SCREECHING STOP.
Moral 1: If you really really want help, never stop screaming.
Moral 2: Before you ask others, make sure it's not simpler to help yourself.
Gained: return to the status quo.