Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I need some SALVATION, already!

Oh. My. GOD.

So, turns out the most difficult thing to do in the whole world isn't climbing Mt. Everest or the Sunday New York Times crossword. It's donating shit you don't need anymore to charity.

About a month ago I got a lovely idea. I was home on a weekday, a rare weekday home all day from work, cleaning the living crap out of my apartment. I managed to fill a couple of large garbage bags with old clothes, and I still have that old computer from college I have been meaning to offload. All in all, a small but respectable amount of stuff.

I called the Salvation Army to schedule a pickup, and, hearing that there was a substantial wait to book such a small one, told the guy I would try again after seeing what strings I could pull. My idea was to check with the management of my building and pool together some of the 200+ residents to see if we couldn't get more things, warranting a bigger truck and a more timely pickup date. The first few people I talked to, after casting fearful eyes at the office, told me I had to talk to the monster lurking within known as "Denise." I figured, hey, who could possibly have a problem with a charitable donation they themselves don't have to do shit with? And it might even be a tax writeoff for the building! I will be the marveltenant by which all other marveltenants are measured!

So I go and talk to the succubus Denise, lurking behind a caramel half-caf triple-soy latte the size of my bike. I told her my idea, suggesting that it was, in fact, me who would do the work, call the Salvation Army, put up flyers and spread the word to the other tenants. Without missing a single beat, she allowed an enormously patronizing smile to spread across her face before simply saying, "No."

"No? Just 'no?'"

"See, what you don't realize is that it would be a gigantic pest hazard."

"Pests? Like rats? Ants?"

"Bedbugs. Among other things."

According to Mme. Denise, Mistress of Pain, our building is simply CRAWLING with bedbugs, or at least the POTENTIAL for bedbugs. And other things. Like, I don't know, MALAISE. She basically glowered at my optimism and pushed me out of her office so she could get back to the business of raising rents and installing ugly carpet and evicting old ladies.

So I, being an accomodating person, went back up to my apartment I called the van man back and we fixed a date a month away since I had such a small pickup. I consigned a portion of my bedroom formerly housing my view to a pile of crap.

The date we had fixed came. It was, in fact, yesterday. I had promised I would be home without exception from 8:00-4:00 anxiously awaiting the truck people. I did get the laundry done and do some intense swiffing, but other than that the day was a loss. Made more so by the phone call I received at 3:15 pm from someone named Nolan from Salvation Army, explaining problems with the truck, needing to reschedule. I told Nolan I couldn't be home all day again today, and he suggested I leave the crap with the door staff. I've left things with them before -- keys for the catsitter, scripts to be picked up, etc. So I imagined it wouldn't be a problem. I went down to the desk just to double-check this hypothesis with the desk sitter. He said 'no, no problem at all' and looked at me like I was paranoid.

I rang Nolan back and fixed it for today, then went out for a walk to celebrate being allowed to leave the apartment. Not 5 minutes after I had returned there was a vicious knock on the door.

Denise, blowing steam and badly in need of an attitude transplant, stood jubilantly outside my door. She handed me a rent statement (never a good way to begin, in my opinion) before launching into her tirade.

"You can't have this cart out here. You can't have anything at all in the hallway."
(I had taken a moving cart from the basement for transporting my things to the front desk).

"Ok. I'll move it. Should I just bring my things down now then, even though they're getting picked up tomorrow?"

At this she gave an audible twitch and stepped closer to me. She then proceeded to explain, as if to a 7 year-old, that she remembered me from a month ago, and she remembered explaining to me then that I couldn't store anything in the common areas of the building.

"But I've just been told that it was ok to leave things for a couple of hours when I'm not in to meet the truck."

"That's not true. I remember our conversation perfectly well."

So the bitch pretty much accused me of lying. Then she re-iterated what she perceived to be my three options for getting rid of stuff: I could buy a car and take it to the center myself; I could stay home all day to hand it to the people; I could throw it in the garbage.

"You're telling me a COMPUTER that works perfectly well should be thrown in the garbage because it's a rick for BEDBUGS?"

And then she said something so completely ridiculous and offensive I had to really pay attention to not smacking her one:

"I'm not saying this to be mean."

Now, I honestly don't understand this kind of nerve. Why anyone, ANYONE, ever talks to adults like they are kids or babies or petulant teenagers is so totally beyond me I can't even describe it. The phrase Denise just uttered, complete with requisite patronizing smirk, made me so angry I had to carefully pick and choose my reply.

"Here's the thing, Denise. I never accused you of being mean. I don't have time to think about whether you're being mean or not. The only aspect of this that I care about is what the HELL I am supposed to do tomorrow. I don't actually give a rat's ass whether your intention is to be mean, or to be friendly, or to be the tooth fairy for Halloween. Nothing could really matter less to me than that. What matters to me is my life and my situation, and the ramifications for that if I have to restructure yet another day of my life around resolving this tremendously overblown problem."

And then, because she was treating me like a teenager, I slammed the door in her face.

Needless to say, it was by then too late to call the truck people back and have them not come. So here I sit, for the second straight day, waiting to give something away for free.

The Man, and by that I mean Denise, has won this round. But I'm really curious about what I can do here. It seems very wrong to me that giving things to charity has to be so difficult. No wonder there isn't enough stuff to go around. People are always throwing useable things away because not everyone can call off work for half a week to sit home and watch the potential for bedbugs happen.

What I need is a handle on some citizens' advocacy group, or someone who knows how to fix this problem. I don't want to file a complaint against my management company, because there is only one person I want to feel this one. Every other person who works in my building has never been anything but nice, helpful, and friendly. If the company gets a fine for discrimination or something, the money won't come out of her pocket anyway. I want the one person who is discouraging the well-to-do denizens of Lincoln Park from donating goods to charity to catch this one right in the ass.

Any tips? Any lawyers out there feel like 'donating' some advice?


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