Friday, October 1, 2010

jobs and disappearing debt

I did interview for the uptown university job on Tuesday.  The department chair and four faculty members interviewed me.  They all seemed quite nice.  The only possible hiccup is that I didn't have some of the computer skills they asked about, though I imagine they were "preferred" rather than mandatory since I wouldn't have responded to the ad if they were required.  I of course said that I could pick up any of them easily.  I've used a personal computer on the job since 1984; in fact, the first one I used didn't even run on MS-DOS (it was CP/M, which I guess fell by the wayside a long time back).  I've probably learned about two dozen programs/software in those years, not counting newer versions of old products.  Anyway, I thought the interview went fairly well and I'm pretty sure I'd like the job.  I poked around online for the union contract that would cover this job, and even though I couldn't find a code for the title, I checked a couple of grades of administrative jobs and I figure this job should pay around $42K to start.  Plus it seems to be a very good union.

I have debt, some of it very old, mostly hangovers from various periods where good income suddenly dropped off, and never again became good enough to pay off much debt in addition to current needs.  They mostly involved various small lines of credit -- 300 here, 400 there, store cards and small-limit credit cards.  About six months ago, I paid off a couple when I got those notices offering a settlement for a one-time payment of a much lesser amount.

But one of these collection agencies has been bugging me a lot over the past year.  It was from a small-limit credit card from maybe three or four years ago.  But as best I can remember, the card had a $350 limit, and these people were trying to get me to pay over $700.  They've been phoning a lot over the past eight months or so. When it occurred to me that they were trying to collect a whole lot more than I thought I should owe, I started asking the callers to send me an itemized bill, since I thought the charge was incorrect.  A couple of them said they couldn't provide it.  I got to the point that when they called, I just said, "I'm not paying anything because I think the amount is incorrect.  If you send me an itemized bill, then I'll talk to you about it.  I'm not paying anything until I see an itemized bill," and then hung up the phone.  This happened about ten times.  Finally, someone called and said, "I understand you want to see an itemized bill, since you think the billing amount is wrong."  I said yes, and she said, "OK, we can do that."  This was about two months ago, and I never received the bill, though they did stop calling me.  Today, I got a letter from them saying that my balance owed is zero and they're going to remove it from all three credit reports!  I don't think this was one of the bills I paid off six months ago (OK, my record-keeping leaves something to be desired), but if someone tells me I don't owe them money, that's just fine with me.

I got a call about a week ago from another collection agency, saying that I owed something, maybe a few hundred dollars, to T-Mobile.  About 4 or 5 years ago, we went into a T-Mobile store to get phones and a plan, and they did an instant credit check and said that my credit was not good enough.  Period.  I told this to the guy who called, and I could tell he didn't believe me, and I repeated it several times, and threw in something about identity theft, and he finally said, "We'll investigate it and inform you of our findings within thirty days." Yikes!  But yesterday, I got a letter saying that we don't owe T-Mobile squat.  Again, I love a debt that vanishes.  I think I've actually cleared up everything except a student loan and taxes.  But I can't do anything more until I'm working.

Went to meet my herbal pal today.  He's a little shy and awkward, but he's a really nice guy.  I told Barry that I like the guy because he doesn't treat me like I'm twice his age, or act like it's weird that someone my age should be doing business with him, and so on.  Barry asked, "Is this guy coming on to you?"  Maybe I sounded like I liked him too much."  I said no, and later thanked him for thinking that someone would come on to me.  I told him that no one had come on to me for nearly thirteen years; this is nearly true.  That was the last *new* person who came on to me.  Someone I'd known for a long time had an eye on me in the interim.  But the truth is that maybe I enjoy the herbal guy a little too much, just a little.  For the most part, men overlook me, except old hippies from outside New York City.  (The thirteen-years-ago guy was one of those.)  That's been true for years.  Apart from being overweight, I'm short and flat-chested.  (Lucky me, overweight *and* flat-chested!)  Herbal Guy is not a flirt and has not been forward in any way, but he really seems interested in me and in getting to know me.  Maybe he just likes to be friendly with his customers, but it's nice anyway.  Hey, he said he liked my earrings (unsolicited), which will get pretty much anyone in my good graces, big-time.  It's not just admiring my work -- I like someone who notices details and is any sort of aesthete. 

Current earworms...I'm not sure if I explained the other thing, or what I called it, the sort of self-earworm thing when I repeat and repeat a song on my mp3 player or computer because I'm really enjoying it and can't stop listening to it.  It's like an input-worm.  Sometimes an input-worm turns into an earworm, or vice-versa.  But here are the current leaders:  Boogaloo Down Broadway by Fantastic Johnny C.  (I could swear I posted a video for this recently, but now I can't find it.  So go to YouTube and look around.)  Wild Young Hearts by the Noisettes.  I don't seem to be getting tired of that one.  There's one I heard today that may be a future one:  Bedroom Boogie by the Red Elvises.  A friend told me about the Red Elvises, and what I've heard so far is pretty cool.  And while we're on music, I wanted to mention Los Straitjackets, who are obscure but very cool.  They play surf instrumentals; rumor has it that they're a bunch of top-notch Nashville studio guys.  But no one knows, because they wear lucha libre masks.  They've been doing it for around fifteen years, way before lucha libre was on anyone's map in the US. I saw them once at the old Tramps.

On Sunday, I went to the Atlantic Antic, a huge annual street fair on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.  Unlike a lot of the usual street fairs in New York, which tend to have the same vendors and food stands, the AA had a lot of interesting foods from local restaurants, and wonderful jewelry and clothing and such from local artisans and craftspeople.  I swear that every third table was jewelry.  It's the first time I can remember that I started walking past jewelry tables because I was so overloaded.  (Lucky for Barry he wasn't with me, because I stopped and stopped and stopped.)  I ended up buying some little silver stud earrings, a tee-shirt for Barry, and some tights, leggings and a purse from Brooklyn Industries (they had a whole table of stuff for $5 apiece -- that bag was easily a $50-60 item originally).  The Transit Museum had an exhibit of old busses on two blocks -- you could get on them, and they had old ads.  A couple of people I knew were playing music, but I only caught one.  I hadn't been to the AA for a few years, and I really enjoyed myself.

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