I have found it, the horn of plenty, the inexhaustible resource. Best yet, one doesn’t have to travel to the far reaches of the globe to find its depository. One doesn’t need millions of dollars of equipment and mind-numbing payrolls to get at it. Nor is the work back-breaking in nature, requiring contorted body positions working in horrid heat or stunning cold. No, like the air we breathe, its’ everywhere. It’s called aggravation.

Some examples? The decision to begin tearing up the major east-west by-way in south Florida’s Boca Raton just before the beginning of the tourist season when the town’s population explodes by 35%. The tearing brings on swearing because the work is being done just east and west of the mouth of the Florida Turnpike entrance. Suddenly rush hour became rush day and rush day is going into its 3rd month.

While I’m on cars, I took my special edition Volvo into the dealership for routine service and told the service writer that a bulb was out in the middle of the string of bulbs that light up on the trunk when you step on the brake. I mention “special edition” only to point out that special edition means something special to the owner and nothing special to anyone else associated with the dealership. I got home and my wife asked me, “Didn’t you tell them to fix that bulb?” Grrrrrr!

So, thinking, “What’s it take to replace a bulb?” I drove back, told said service writer what happened, and asked, “How about popping in the bulb?” He looked at me like I’d asked for the car to be re-wired while I waited. He informed me that I could expect a 2 1/2 hour wait. “Can’t you just have someone come out here, pop off the strip over the lights, and pop in a bulb? “Oh no. And came a string of excuses designed to make me see the impossibility of my ask. I didn’t. So next week, now armed with an appointment, I will get up at an ungodly hour and have this 2.5 hour job done in about 10 minutes.

Retail stores give training courses in aggravation. After exhaustive on line and in store checking about for patio furniture, we found a great set at Home Depot. Our order was taken by a young woman who kept muttering, “After today, I need to check into Bellevue.” (For you non-New Yorkers, Bellevue is a legendary psychiatric hospital.) Our one set ended up as 3 order forms. When the price is great, expect trouble. They emailed us to say one of the order was ready for pick up at the store. The good news? Way earlier than we thought. The bad news? We had paid for it to be delivered–all together.

I called customer service and waited the perfectly timed hold message which ends just before all my molars have been ground to dust. I was informed that the lady who handles that (not our lady who for sure was cozy in bed at Bellevue by now) was busy and I should call back. “CALL BACK?!?” I don’t think so. You’re customer service, you are supposed to call me back!” Sounding somewhat non-plussed at this apparently novel idea, the woman said, “……….Ok.”

Good news? They did. Bad news? Not only did they not show a delivery order, but didn’t show an order form for one of the pieces of the furniture set. Smoke was existing my ears. Well they’d figure it out they said without much assurance to the voice on the phone and call us back to give us a delivery date.

Good news? They did and it was today–minus the one missing piece that would show up….well we don’t exactly know that yet. At 11 am show up they did. The furniture was beautiful. The “to be picked up table” was even part of the delivery.

“Alles gut!” as our German allies would say. But it wasn’t. The table for six was marred right where it would be the first thing anyone would see coming from inside out to the patio–especially my wife. The delivery guy threw up his hands and basically said, “Hey don’t look at me. This is above my pay grade. I deliver–period.” And then came my favorite line: “Call the store.” Again with the waiting. A woman picks up. I tell my tale of woe. Her response? “Well I can deduct $50 from the price.” My response? If I wanted damaged furniture, I would have gone shopping at a 2nd hand store!” She paused, digesting this foreign logic. Solution? Back goes the table. New one comes next week. In the interim one can only hope the still missing, undelivered piece will be found and delivered with the new table.

And while I’m on retailing. I went into a very well know department store and asked where what I wanted would be found. The person, not looking at me, pointed neither to the floor nor ceiling, but to a space that would appear to warrant a ladder that would reach about 7 feet above the clothing racks. I head that way to ask someone else, hopefully with a GPS, to locate the item for me. I got another point in one direction as the person moved off in another. This one was closer and I had success. I was looking for jeans.

Something about my father’s family’s genes inspire ire in women. We have narrow hips and little tushes. It isn’t easy to fit us in pants and belts. I further complicate things because my length is 35 inches in a world where off the rack men’s pants are made in even sizes. My bad. I don’t like to try things on. I came from a time and place when a men’s clothing salesman would look at you and tell you exactly what size you were and be right.

A joke from that time. Garment district worker takes his first vacation in 30 years. The guys get together and send him to Rome. They arrange an audience with the pope. When he returns  they all go out together and start peppering him with questions about the trip. Finally one guy pipes up, “So, nu Sol? What kinda of guy is the Pope.” The answer: 35 regular.” ba da boom.

I want three pair of jeans which appears to be a somewhat taxing demand. I know I’m a 36/30 (really a 35/31 but….). So in moments, laying across my arms is my trove. It is only when I try them on at home that I discover that jeans now come in multiple “fits.” Silly me. I thought fit meant…well….fit. He sent me home with three 35/30’s, but all of which were different “fits” and none of which fit me!

So don’t tell me about disappearing resources. Of aggravation we have plenty.

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