Wednesday, July 30, 2014

You wouldn't think it could get worse...

You may have surmised that my doors are still missing from my house.
Last weekend brought on this conversation:

"I'm really sorry, but we can't get another truck out to you. The delivery company can't find another box truck to rent. It's going to be Monday before we can deliver your doors."

"I have an installer coming Monday. This would be the third time I've had to bump his schedule if you can't have them there by Monday morning. I really don't want to chance having to do that. Again."

"I understand. Do you have a vehicle with a hitch?"


"We can loan you one of our rental trailers free of charge if you wouldn't mind transporting the doors yourself. We'll load them up and secure them for you."

"That's better than nothing, so sure. We'll be over within the hour."

This means I have to find some manpower to unload the doors and haul them up the sand hill to the house, but I figure we'll deal with that once the doors are on site. So I call my husband he hurries home from his errands so we can head off to get the trailer and our doors.

While I'm waiting for him, the manager calls back.

"Umm. I'm really sorry. It just occurred to me that we don't have your doors here. They're still on the box truck in the towing company's yard. Glad I caught you before you were on the road.

"Yes, you are. That would have been a very bad situation, had I arrived only to find they were not there. Again." I take a deep breath. "So what do we do?"

"I'll call you first thing Monday morning and let you know where we're at on this."

"All right."

Monday morning comes and I wait for the call that doesn't come. So I call.

"We're still waiting to hear from the delivery company. We've left several messages with them."

"Great. If you can't get this door here by noon, I'm bumped until Thursday with the installer."

"I'll call them back right now and get an answer."

"Sounds good."

Twenty minutes later, the very flustered manager calls me back.

"You're not going to believe this."

"Uh oh." I'm imaging the truck exploded. My door was stolen. It's damaged beyond repair.

"I got the real story from the delivery company. The driver did make it to your city, but then he got pulled over. He had warrants and he was arrested. The truck has been impounded by the police."

Maniacal laughter erupts from my throat. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't laugh. I should be really pissed, but this is so crazy, that I can't help it."

He nervously chuckles. "I know. It's kind of totally out of my control. We'll make this right, I promise."

I guess this explains why the missing delivery driver hadn't called me on Friday. He just may have used his phone call for someone more helpful in that particular situation.

"We were hoping to have the door to you this afternoon, but you see, the owner of the delivery company has to claim the truck and the goods inside because they are in a police impound lot."


"He's on vacation in Florida."

Yes, really. I am now utterly convinced my characters are plotting against me, and they're doing a really good job of it.

"He's flying back today."

"So the odds of me getting the door today are pretty slim."

"Sadly, yes. When they do get delivered, look them over and I'll call you on Wednesday to work out compensation for this situation."

At this point what can either of us do? We both sigh and hang up the phone.

Tuesday comes and plods along. No phone calls from either the manager or the delivery company. I'm relishing the thought of the conversation on Wednesday when I let him know the doors didn't get delivered. Then, at 5:15, as I'm starting dinner so I can get over to the house soon to work on installing the radiant flooring shielding plates, I get a phone call from the delivery company.

"We're on our way. We'll be there in fifteen minutes."

Well damn, good thing I'm home and live close to the new house. I ditch dinner and drive over to the site and wait. And wait.

Just when I'm about to call them back, they show up with my doors. Yes, both of them. They are not damaged beyond the little dent I'd already seen. They are at the house! Hooray!

As to the delivery company, the owner delivered them along with his entertaining conscripted teen nephew. If you've ever watched a person carry something heavy through sand in big floppy untied trendy tennis shoes you'll understand  my meaning of entertaining. The owner looking forward to speaking with the arrested driver to give him a piece of his mind. He apologized profusely. I was sorry his vacation was screwed up as he seemed like a really nice guy.

The driver is still in jail.

The stupid service desk person who told me my door was there and I should drive over to look at it - went it wasn't really there - is still blissfully working behind her desk. Woe to those who come in contact with her.

The manager was very apologetic and offered a level of compensation that negated the majority of my frustration with his store.

The door...still needs to be installed. Let's just hope the story stops here, shall we?

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Woeful Saga Continues

Really, I can't make this stuff up. I could, but I wouldn't do this to my characters.

Oh hell, who I am kidding. I would. I have. Well, not this door saga specifically, but the level of frustration for sure. Maybe they're working with Home Depot to get back at me. I wouldn't put it past those resourceful bastards.

My world was semi-back to rights on Wednesday night when I got a call that my long lost door had arrived at the store. For my woes, my doors would be delivered for free. While I probably should have gone for more, I was sick of the whole situation and just wanted my damn doors delivered, so I went with it. It was too late to get them on Thursday's truck, but they would be out on Friday for sure.

Friday arrives. My long lost washing machine, also a month-long saga of woe and incompetence (by Lowes), arrived in the morning. Things were looking up. I got a call at 12:30 that my door would be delivered at the construction site in one hour.

An hour later, I drive out to the construction site. No one is there. I clean up a little, make some notes for the subcontractors and wait. And wait. They're forty minutes late. Granted, traffic can be delayed between here and there as there is bottleneck town on the highway, but forty minutes is way late even for that. I called the store. They promised to get ahold of the delivery guy and have him call me.

He doesn't call.

This shouldn't have surprised me. My optimism is sitting at the bottom of a pit along with my faith in home improvement store employees. But now optimism curled up in a little ball and started whimpering. Annoyed by the sound, I called the store again. They were surprised the driver hadn't called me back. They promised to call the delivery service office, as this was an outside company, and then call me back with an update.

They didn't call me back either.

Disgusted with the home improvement universe, I got in my car after an hour and half and drove home. Once there, I got a call from the store manager.

"We finally located the delivery truck."


"It broke down."

Dead silence on my end. What do I say to that? Okay, a thousand angry things come to mind, but I'm stuck on, "Are you freaking kidding me?"

"No, we're sorry. The driver really should have called you right away so you didn't have to wait for him. Your doors are on the box truck in a tow yard somewhere. We don't even have them in the store that you can come and pick them up."

Internal screaming and gnashing of teeth plays out for a few seconds before I can form words. "I wasted an hour and half and no one could call me? I have a ton of work to do. I didn't have an hour and a half to stand around. Your guy couldn't call me back twice? This is ridiculous. Are my doors cursed?"

I'm pretty sure they are.

"We're really sorry. We're going to try to rent a box truck and get them out to you on Saturday but it will be difficult because everyone is busy right now and there aren't many available to rent."

"I have an installer coming on Monday. They better be here."

"If not Saturday, then maybe Sunday."

"I don't care which, just get them here."

"Why don't you give us a call on Saturday to see where they're at?"

"Why don't you give me a call and Saturday and tell me where they're at. I don't have more time to waste on this. Get them here."

And so the waiting continues.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waiting. And waiting.

While I'm busy waiting to hear back on submissions, which yes, is a perpetual thing, but I don't have much time for writing right now so I can't chat about that, I thought I'd share progress on the new house. And a story about lack of progress on said house.

See anything big missing in this photo? No, not the siding, that's actually in the garage waiting to be installed. Before that can happen, though, we need a building inspection. But we can't get one yet, because...there's no entry door by the porch.

Where is that entry door? Good question.

 Here, let me tell you a little story.

A month ago, I walked into my local (which isn't local anymore, because ours closed. It's a half hour drive away in a nearby town) Home Depot to order the door I'd found online that fit the space I'd given the framers. Originally, that space was meant for an online exclusive door, also from Home Depot, but when I was ready to order that door, it was no longer available. Neato. In an effort to be prepared and save time (which I have extremely little of these days), I'd used their online door designer and had all the specs and a picture of the entry door with sidelights that I wanted to order with me when I sat down with the guy in the millwork department.

He took one look at my spec sheet and looked confused. "Huh, didn't know we even had that on our website."

This probably should have been a sign of things to come, but I had some (apparently) misguided faith in their employees. After forty minutes and much finagling with his program, he got the door ordered. I then asked for a quote on a garage entry door to match. This one obviously would not have sidelights. Just the door. He gave me a copy of the quote within a few minutes, and I walked out with the promise to return to order the second door the next day on my way back through town (I have to travel twice every weekend through this town to bring my son back and forth to a boy scout camp where he works) after verifying the width of the door.

The next day, I walked back in with my printed quote, ready to order. Both guys at the desk look confused. Neither is the one I'd dealt with the day before. They can't find his quote in the system and they can't figure out what exactly he'd come up with even using the printed quote. Their prices are either significantly higher or lower than the quote. One guy tells me how great the more expensive door is. The other tries hard to sell me the cheaper one. After patiently explaining (and then not so patiently by almost an hour and half later. Yes, seriously.) that, I. Just. Want. The. Door. I. Was. Quoted. They managed to get the quote figured out and order the door.

I wait two weeks. And couple days. Then finally break down and call to check on the delivery of my doors to the store because I'm rather needing the entry door by now and my framers are anxious to finish this job and move on to the next. I'm told it's going to be another week before the door is delivered, but hey, that garage one will be there in two days. Groovy, but not the door I really need right now as that one isn't needed for my building inspection.

They call a couple days later to tell me my order is in. Yay. I tell them I'll wait on that door and pick it up when the other entry door is in.

"Entry door? What we have for you is an entry door."

"I know. That's a garage entry door. I need the large door with sidelights for the house entry door."

"Oh. I don't see that on your order."

"It was ordered the day before."

"Oh. Right. Yes, here it is. That's coming from another company. It should be in on Saturday."

"Great. I'll plan on coming in on Saturday to get both doors."

"You might want to call first. We don't know what time it will be here."

So I do my drive through town to drop off my kid at camp and go home on Saturday. We verify that the large trailer we'll need to retrieve the doors is available. I call the store.

"I'm checking to see if my entry door with sidelights has been delivered to the store yet?"

"Oh yes, I see that here. It came in a few days ago. Didn't you get a call?"

"Are you talked about the garage entry door? I need the one with sidelights. It was supposed to be in today."

"Uhh. Hmm. Let me check on that." Comes back a few minutes later. "Was that a separate order?"

"Yes. A day earlier."

"Okay, that one isn't here yet. Looks like it's scheduled for Monday."

That sucks, but I can make that work. "I'll plan on that then."

"You might want to call first."

"Yes, yes, I will. Got it."

So Monday comes. I call in the afternoon.

"Yes, your door is here."

"The entry door with sidelights, right? Not the regular garage entry door?"

"Oh, you had two orders?"

You may imagine my pounding my head on the desk right about now, and you'd be right. Does no one ever have more than one order out with this place? Really?

"Yes. I'm waiting on the entry door with sidelights that is supposed to be delivered to you today."

"Oh, I show that on the truck and it's about an hour and half away. It probably won't be delivered today. Should be here tomorrow though."


"Yeah. Probably should call to make sure because I don't know what time it will be in."

I grit my teeth, go on with my day, and give them a call on Tuesday.

"I'm checking on the delivery of my entry door with sidelights. I have another door already there. I need to know if the one with sidelights is in. I need it. Badly."

"Oh sure. Yep, that's here. Looks like it's still in receiving. The millwork guy inspected it earlier and left a note that there was some damage. A scratch or dent, I think."

"All right. How bad is the scratch or dent? I need this door in my hands right now. This is holding up my building inspection." At this point, I'll be taking it dented or scratched or bashed in with a hammer, but I'm debating whether it's bad enough to ask for a discount.

"Let me look." They return after a few minutes. "I looked it over and I don't see what he was talking about. So it must not be too bad."

"If he noted the damage, it must be there. I'd like to see it for myself before setting it up for delivery since I no longer have access to the trailer to retrieve it since the door wasn't delivered to the store when I was told it would be."

"Sure, you can stop in today."

"I'll be in tonight as long as I can get it delivered tomorrow."

"Sure, no problem."

So I drive all the way there and go up to the service desk. A friendly young woman greets me with a smile and does her best to locate the door that was received earlier in the day."

"That's weird, it doesn't show me where the door is located."

"Is there someone in receiving that can help you? That's where the door was when I spoke to the special order department earlier."

"Oh!" Her face lights up. "It's right back here." She leads me to the holding area just behind the desk where all the special orders are. She points to a door in the stack of items.

My stomach sinks, but I keep an even tone. "That's the garage entry door that's been sitting here for a week. I need the entry door with sidelights that was delivered here today."

She looks confused. "Oh. Hmm. Okay." She putters with the computer and makes several calls to other employees to track down the missing door. Meanwhile a line forms at the service desk so I take a seat and tell her I'll wait while she helps the other people with returns. I've wasted enough time in this place, what's a few more minutes?

She gets a call from receiving. "Hey, I show that door is in the special order rack behind the service desk. It should have the order tag right on it."

"That's a different door. We need the one with sidelights."

"Oh. Let me look for that one."

I grip my pile of order papers a little tighter and don a strained smile.

A manager wanders over. He nods to service desk girl and goes off behind the counter. When he pops back out, he looks victorious. He whips out his walkie talkie and says, "Cancel that. I found it. It's right behind the service desk."

"No," I say through my teeth. "It's not. I NEED the door WITH the sidelights that was delivered today. I need it NOW. Why is this so hard to find? I was told it was here a few hours ago. Someone was looking right at it. The millwork guy inspected it. He said it was damaged and I want to see it."

"Ooooh. Okay. Let me keep looking."

I start to look for somewhere to scream. The service desk girl gives me an utterly apologetic look and she has a line of people with returns. I'm not going to yell at her. The manager has already wandered off.

She gets a thoughtful look on her face. "If they said it was damaged, I wonder if they put it right back on the truck and sent it back to the manufacturer?"

Oh hell. I can't wait another month. This would mean I have to order a whole different door from somewhere else and I would have done that originally if I could have, but this was the door that fit my already framed space. Which would mean I'd have to get the framers to change the opening size, and that would add to their bill... "They better not have. I told them I would be in tonight to look at it."

"Well, they probably didn't do that then."

The phone rings again. It's the millwork guy.

"I show the door is up behind the desk with the special orders."

Even service desk girl is sounding frazzled now. "No, that's her garage entry door. She needs one with sidelights."

"Oh, so it would be a bigger door?"

We share one of those looks that screams, Duh! "Yeah."

"That might still be back in receiving then."

The service desk girl assures me several people are still looking and she'll let me know as soon as they find it. She moves on to help her line of customers. I stalk off through the aisles to keep from glaring at the innocent people in line at her desk. By the time I return to the service desk, I've strangled the papers in my hands several times over.

A different woman is now behind the counter. She's busy peering at some paperwork and consulting her computer. I set my papers on the desk in front of her, waiting for the moment of revelation where she tells me that my door has been found. But no. She doesn't acknowledge me at all.

Finally I say, "Several people were looking for a door for me. Have they located it yet?"

She looks up from her paperwork. "No. It hasn't been delivered. It's still on the truck."

"What?" I'm pretty sure fire shot out of my eyeballs. "How was someone looking at it while I was on the phone with them earlier if it's still on a truck somewhere?"

"They were looking at the one back here." She waves me over to the rack behind the desk. "See there's a dent in the door. It's just a small one. Won't notice it once you paint the door."

"This door has been here a week, and you're just telling me know that it's dented?"

"Well, no one probably checked it over until you called earlier to ask about it."

"I wasn't asking about THIS door. I was asking about the one with sidelights."

"Yeah, they got confused."

That's an understatement of epic proportions. "So this door is damaged and my other door that I expected two weeks ago and was told was here, that I NEED RIGHT NOW, isn't here?"

She nods.

"When will it be here."

"Hard to say. Depends on who the shipper is."

"Find out."

She goes back up to the desk, ignores the line of customers with returns that has formed while we were off looking at the door that everyone on staff at this store knows is in the rack behind the service desk by now, and proceeds to work her way through her shipper list to locate the one that is holding my door hostage. This should be easy, because every other time I've called to ask about this door, the person on the phone has found the tracking information (granted, not entirely accurate information) within thirty seconds. She takes about five minutes and tells me it's going to be Thursday before it's in.

Yes, it's going to take two more days even though it's loaded on the truck and only and hour and a half away. Apparently this is a very slow truck, possibly a sled pulled by a thousand three-legged field mice tied together with dental floss.

I don't distinctly remember walking out to the car other than acknowledging the fact I should do that before I exploded in a fit of profanity in front of a bunch of people who just wanted to bring back their extra light fixtures and metal pipes that didn't fit properly. I do recall mentioning my spiraling unhappiness level several times a various increasing volumes and making her personally promise to call me the moment the door came in. Not the door on the rack, the actual entry door with sidelights that would be there on Thursday.

And now I wait.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Published: Space Commander

Though no longer exactly Independence Day, (a fact I wish some firework-happy folks in my neighborhood would recognize) , The First Annual IWM Indie-Pendence Day Anthology: Time Travel! is now available. I'll allow a few fireworks today just for that reason.

This lovely anthology is filled with time travel stories and features Space Commander, a short story I wrote last May. A big thank you to Nick Wilford of Scattergun Scribblings for the prompt from which this story sprang.