Downhill From Here

Dave: I want you to look around. Here we have Lisa, who today very nearly gave up a career in journalism for a life in the fast food industry. Over here we have Beth, who dresses like a barmaid from “Blade Runner.” Mr. James, a millionaire who has spent the entire day eating food he knows for a fact to be spoiled. Joe, who has earned upwards of 11 dollars working as an amateur surveillance expert, albeit half of that is Monopoly money.


Newsradio, “Lucky Burger” (10/14/98)


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I can’t tell if this day has been disastrous or just plain bad. You be the judge:


My court date for the guy who stole stuff out of my garage was today. I checked the state’s website just to be sure I’m going to the right building and there’s a note that there’s parking adjacent to the building. Really!


So I get down there and nearly every space in the lot is Permit Only. There are three hundred and seventy-five thousand cars trying to get into 100 parking spaces. The nearby steers are no help, either, as they’re permit-only as well. Finally I decided to cut my losses and park in the Harford Heights Elementary/Middle lot. At worst, I can argue that I’m a BCPSS employee, so that counts, right?


Cross the street, up the hill and follow a sign that points me to the District Court. I go in through the doors and the person there asked me if I was there for Court. When I replied in the affirmative, she told me I was in the wrong entrance. “Out, around the side, down the stairs and in the front door.”


In the courtroom. I check in with the DA and have a seat. Thank god I have my Kindle with me because while some of the proceedings are interesting, most of them are not. The Kindle, incidentally, got some attention from a few of the lawyers walking around. Amazon may owe me a few bucks for the referral. It was two-and-a-half hours from that point before “State of Maryland v. Keith Joines” was called. I was a little nervous because I didn’t see him in the courtroom and I thought they were going to have to issue a bench warrant. Turns out that Keith Joines wasn’t in the courtroom because he was in the holding cell, in cuffs and ankle chains. I can’t say I feel very badly about that.


His attorney (the Public Defender, of course) noted that there were a few cases against him and that he wanted them all tried at once. I’m not sure of the reasoning behind this tactic, but whatever. The State attorney offered a year in jail for a guilty plea, which was rejected. Then he offered eight months if Joines would be willing to reimburse me for my losses. This, apparently was also rejected. In short, for whatever reason this guy wants to go to a trial. My guess is, based on a Maryland Judiciary Case Search I did, looking up the name “Keith Joines”, this is someone who’s gotten good at gaming the system. He’s hoping for a verdict that ends with “time served” at worst. He’s also probably enjoying the idea of using up a lot of time and resources. (Why am I using this Keith Joines’ name a lot, you ask? It’s sort of a baby Googlewhack.)


Since I got out before noon, I decided to go back to work. There was a student I was interested in observing, so I headed down to that school to see what was going on. Apparently there’d been a bit of trouble with Mom’s reliability in getting him to the school for testing (he’s a preschool-age student), so plans were made with the mother’s caseworker and all of the assessors descended on the school at the same time. This poor kid is SO autistic that he reminds me of my days working in the nonpublic school on Long Island. He’s going to be tough to place but I’m confident that we’ll do well by him.


A while later I got home and noticed that the package from Kansas hadn’t arrived yet. I checked the UPS website and noticed that it passed THROUGH Baltimore early yesterday morning, then went to Philadelphia, where it was scanned at about 7:30 AM. So I gave UPS a call and asked them what was up. They said that they had one more scan just outside the Philadelphia area around 12:30 PM but that was all they knew. However, the package could still arrive anywhere between now (almost 7:00 PM) and midnight.


Just for the giggles I checked again to see if there was a new scan. Now there was a new notation with a 7:58 PM timestamp for today: THE PACKAGE WAS DAMAGED IN TRANSIT. UPS WILL NOTIFY THE SENDER WITH THE DETAILS / ALL MERCHANDISE DISCARDED. UPS WILL NOTIFY THE SENDER WITH DETAILS OF THE DAMAGE


And, of course, GF neither declared a value for the package nor did she insure it. Let me do that sentence again: GF, and her mother the postmaster, didn’t insure the package or declare a value for the 35 pounds of meat inside it, when they handed it over to UPS. GF’s excuse was that she didn’t pay full price for it so she didn’t know what to say. Hm. 35 lbs of beef times about $5 a pound makes for a rough value of $175. So the most we’re likely to recover at this point is the original shipping fee.


You know, a more cynical mind would suspect that the package was “damaged” in transit, and that the merchandise was discarded by throwing it on a Weber full of hot coals. But I’m a trusting soul.

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