Monday, July 14, 2008

Red Mojo's Rant: The Bank!

You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille...

I sold my beloved Lucille in order to avoid setting up shop in a cardboard box just down the street from the enchanting but foul smelling turrets lady downtown. I sold her on eBay (the bike, not the turrets lady) and a very nice firefighter from a neighboring state won the auction.

Although he was very excited about getting such a great deal (approx. $6,000 less than I had invested in it) on such a gorgeous bike, it took him over three weeks to come pick it up and pay for it. Meanwhile, my money stress was growing with each passing day. I would wake up in the morning and run to the window to see if my truck was still in the driveway!

As payment, he gave me two certified bank checks, one for around $3,000 from his credit union, and one for around $12,000 from the bank that issued him a loan. I took them to the ATM, signed them, and deposited them immediately, it was close to 2:00 when he finally left. I figured since they were bank checks they wouldn't take long to clear.
The following Monday I transferred the bulk of the money into the account I pay things out of, and started electronically making payments. A week after I had made the deposit I saw the money get zapped back out of the account I'd transferred it to. Everything was about to hit, and the money was gone! I transferred the money back, sure that if it hadn't cleared when the transfer went through the first time, it would be cleared now. The time frame on an out of state bank check is "up to " 5 days.

The next day, six banking days after the deposit, the check still hadn't cleared. The seventh day, I went to the bank. They said the check was lacking a signature. I'm the only one on my account, I protested. They went and got a copy of the check, it had my name and the guy's name who gave me the check! His name shouldn't be on there! I felt stupid for not noticing that it was, but here's the kicker. The bank pulled the check the day after I deposited it. That was Thursday. Friday was a holiday, so it went out in the mail on Monday, and was mailed to my business address, a UPS box I only check if I'm expecting something.

"When a certified bank check for $12,000.00 dollars doesn't go through, you guys don't make a phone call? You just put it in the mail? Didn't it occur to you that there would be things coming in against those funds? That's a lot of money, it's not like it was a personal check for 50 bucks! Now there are all kinds of returned check fees, insufficient funds this how you guys make your money?! If someone had notified me on Thursday, maybe I could have done something to cover this, and I certainly could have taken care of it by now!" I said with my teeth clenched and veins popping out of my forehead, and sweat forming a glistening coat all over me!

"Come back on Monday, and you can sit down with a customer service rep. and get all the charges taken care of." the teller said, trying to calm me down and get me to leave peacefully. I did, but I really must write the rant!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Closet Doesn't Fit Anymore!

Back before Stonewall, and even after for many years, "gay" was barely visible. People worked hard, some very hard at hiding their true selves from the world. Why? Discrimination. A known homosexual could be fired, denied housing, bashed, beaten, or raped and no one would bat an eye. Often gays would be identified by other gays hoping to throw suspicion off of themselves. The old pot calling the kettle black thing.

Anti-discrimination laws don't exactly protect us, but it was a step in the right direction. I grew up in a time when being gay was still considered deviant, sick behavior by most. We didn't have gay characters on TV, with the possible exception of the spineless traitor Dr. Smith on Lost in Space, but we never really knew for sure. We didn't have pride parades, or community centers, or websites, or movies, or dating sites. We did have unmarked doors down dark alleys that opened to the secret world of lesbians or gays, or sometimes both. They were usually located in undesirable parts of town, and were subject to raids and other forms of harassment.

Many gay men and women married, to throw others off the scent. Then had their secret lovers discretely on the side. Today, this is certainly no longer necessary. Gay folks are more visible than ever, and while we are still fighting for equal rights in every state in this country but Massachusetts and California, we have made great strides against the fear and ignorance we faced just thirty years ago.

When I was in the military, I had a marriage of convenience myself. This was the only way I could live off post. I had a girlfriend, and sneaking her into the barracks was more than a little risky. I married a gay guy and was allowed to live off post. Breaking this ridiculous rule seemed justified to me. I wasn't even supposed to be in the military, and could have been dishonorably discharged if anyone could prove I was gay. It would have been easy to prove, but no one was really trying.

This weekend while in New York, some friends and I had dinner at a nice restaurant on the Hudson river. There were six of us total, three guys and three girls and I would say it was not a secret to anyone nearby that we were all gay! I saw a woman at the end of the bar giving me the once over more than once. I met her eyes, and smiled politely. She was quite attractive, and did a little check to make sure her pockets causing any unsightly bulges in her tight fitting black jeans, then looked back to see if I was still watching her.

Friend: She's straight!

Me: No she isn't.

Friend: Yes she is. She's married. She and her husband own this place, and you should see him. What a flamer!

Me: She might be married, but she's not straight! We just had a conversation with our eyes, and this is not my first time on this ride.

Friend: Ha! No, you could blog about that!

Me: Shut the fuck up!

The woman came over to our group and introduced herself, standing right by me, and shaking my hand firmly. I think I was the only one out all six, she hadn't already met. She asked if we'd like to sit outside, if we did there would be a wait, or inside. If we wanted to stay in the bar she could seat us now, and she'd prefer to be able to "keep an eye on us" she said looking directly at me when she said it.

We did sit in the bar, but I gave the woman no encouragement. I would not want to be the discrete lover a married, in the closet woman, no matter how attractive she might be. I'm sure there must be a reason for the arrangement, but I would not want to live in her world. I am out and plan to stay out. I'm here, I'm queer, and I don't care who knows it!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Red Mojo's Rant: RMV

Every time I have to do something at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, I am completely and utterly astounded at how difficult they make it for you to be legal here. Although I have many horror stories to tell, I will limit myself to my current plight.

Let me start by saying I'm self-employed and the precise flow of my income is not always predictable, or within my control. A while back I had less money than I needed at bill paying time, so I paid the most important ones first. Well, my bad for not putting auto insurance in that pile, because when I went to pay it, two days after the due date, I was informed that my insurance had been canceled. The bill was $211.oo How could you cancel me just like that? I've been a good customer for years, isn't that a bit harsh. That's what the state makes us do, automatically when it goes past the due date, explained my insurance company.

Ins. Agent: "We can reinstate you, but we need the whole year up front, that would be $1958.00 "

Me: "Oh, is that all! Well, if I didn't have $211.00 two days ago, what makes you think I've got a couple thousand extra just kicking around today?"

Ins. Agent: *crickets*

Me: "So, that's my only option, all or nothing?"

Ins. Agent: "yes, that's what we are required to get once you've had your policy canceled, it's that way with all large companies."

Me: "Well, I don't have it, for you or anyone else. Thanks for your time. Bye."

I receive the notice from the RMV that my plates all need to be turned in immediately unless I can show proof of insurance. I can't, and I don't. If I can't drive, I can't work. If I can't work, I can't pay for insurance or anything else. What am I supposed to do? I know if I get caught driving on dead tags, they'll impound my vehicle. I risk it. I have to, I have no choice. I'm like a freaking criminal in the state of Massachusetts now, all because I was two days late paying my insurance bill! It's incredible.

It's always completely blown my mind the penalty for not having enough money is, a fine. You don't have what you owe, pay an additional fee. The poorer you are, the more they take from you. How is that okay?

Today, I finally had enough to go to the insurance company and bleed $1958.00 dollars on them. Then I had to go to the RMV and give them a check for $100.00 to get my tags re-registered. They did that and gave me my re-registration paperwork, and away I went. When I got home, I noticed the registration expiration date for the truck was already past. I remember trying to renew my registration on line, but of course it didn't fly because the tags were dead. I couldn't believe they let me walk out of there with an "expired re-registered registration"!

I went on line to try to renew and I got an email back saying, Sorry, you can't renew that registration on line.

I called the 800 number which put me in a voice system that never gave me the option I wanted, so I hit 0 and it started over. And it kept starting over and over every time I pressed 0. Well, as is my nature, I got frustrated and hit 0 about 50 times, and as silly as it sounds, that little temper fit, got me exactly what I wanted. I was now on hold for a representative. I waited a long time, and finally got through. After explaining it all, I was placed on hold while she called the location I had visited today. She came back and apologized that they'd missed that and said she'd take my payment over the phone, so we did that. Now, if I get pulled over, I'll still get a ticket for not having the sticker, but my vehicle won't be impounded for not being registered! I guess that's as happy an ending as I can get for $2,100.00 and half my day. And, I was happily informed that if I wanted to blow another work day out my ass, I could always contest the ticket.