The wind knocked my stand over twice, and nearly sent my cards flying down the block on several occasions.
Giving up, I walked down to where my friend Jim (he of the "Califuckinfornia" t-shirts) was set up, and borrowed some cash from him. He's good in emergencies for slightly more than the few dollars I might be able to get from my fellow vendors, but less than I'd get by swallowing my pride and turning to the family. We talked for a while, I listened to his plans to promote his self-published book on how to cure a bad back, he listened to a Zen parable I told him, and I took off to Rite Aid.
Two wrong buses and one wrong stop later, I finally ended up in a Rite Aid in the middle of a dingy strip mall somewhere in the eastern part of Venice. It's an unfamiliar part of town to me. While not completely losing the Venice flavor, it largely resembles any other low-built urban retail area in Los Angeles. Pet stores, restaurants that straddle the line between decent dining and greasy spoon, tool shops, video stores, and a mixed sense of optimism and desperation pervade the area.
I stood in front of the cell phone display in the drugstore. None of the items were what had been described to me. I picked out one that looked like a decent alternative and took it to the front counter. There was no prepaid phone card for the service. After further discussion, the counterperson (the manager, from what I could tell) figured out what I was talking about, and pulled the phone that I was looking for from behind the counter. Awesome! I bought the phone, the card, and a pack of cigarettes (cheaper there than on the Boardwalk) before heading out the door. A quick hop onto the bus, settling back as I ripped open the packaging and perused the materials. It all seemed simple enough. I stuffed everything that I could find in the package into my pockets, tossed the plastic remnants into the trash at my transfer point, and headed back to the place.
I took a quick dash upstairs and went online to begin setting up. Plugged in the phone to charge it. Information, input, question, answer, numbers easy for me to remember but hard for others to figure out for various codes, et cetra. Then comes the time that I'm supposed to input the serial number. I lifted the cover off of the battery case in order to do so. No battery. No big deal, as there's plenty of stuff that I hadn't looked through. I kept going through the motions. Looked again.
Looked through everything...all of my pockets, my bag, all over the desk.
In a panic, I rushed downstairs, grouchy enough at this point to snap at The Host when I misunderstood a joke that he was making about my computer use for an actual complaint. A quick jump to the local cell phone place:
The young man behind the counter nodded sympathetically. "What happened to the battery?"
"I don't know. I took everything out of the front and the middle of the packaging..."
"Oh!" A look of dismay. "The battery is in the back of the package!"
"Shit. I have no idea what to do. Look,. can I just buy one here?"
"Let me check." He rummaged through various plastic tubs that he pulled off of some shelves. A head shake. "No, sorry, I'll have to put it on order."
"How long will that be?"
"A few days."
I groaned. "A few days?"
"Sorry, yeah. It'll be thirty bucks."
"Thirty?" I paused and took a breath. "I don't have thirty bucks. The phone was only ten."
"So buy a new phone."
While I'm sure that I didn't actually scream at this point, my temper must have overflowed a bit, as there was a definite look of alarm in his face as I worked towards exhausting my vocabulary of curse words by reciting them to the ceiling of his shop. I left before he felt the need to call the police. Note to self: Apologize tomorrow.
A bus ride back to the transfer point. I walked to the westbound stop. There, sitting on top of the tissues and old newspapers that archaeologists will some day use to put together a wildly inaccurate history of 21st century bus riding, was the plastic casing. I picked it up, ripped it open even farther, and pulled out the molding.
A battery fell into my palm.
Back to the place, a sincere apology to The Host for my earlier rudeness, another attempt to register the phone. It failed at the activation. I called them. Steve, their automated help system, narrowly escaped another chewing out from me when some survival instinct in his robotic brain finally sent me over to a human named Patricia who helped me set up everything.
I am once agan connected. Hooray. Now I really wish that I had the money for alcohol and drunk-dialing.
A cold breeze over the Boardwalk this morning, with the television and newspaper warning of possible rain. Usually this means that it's a good idea to take a day off, stay inside, drink coffee, and subject all of you to whatever musings I'm able to come up with. However, today I had a goal: A phone. I haven't had one for a while for various reasons, and Chana had informed me of a decent deal at Rite Aid for a prepaid service with Virgin Mobile. I set up. My cart had been dropped off by my worker in a good space. I braved the damp wind and set up between an oddly talkative mime and a jewelry seller.