Day 12: SSA, FOPAL, incidental drama

Thursday 12/13/18

First order of business today was to drive to the Neptune Society in San Jose to collect the five official copies of Marian’s death certificate that I’d ordered. I’ve been advised I could need up to eight, but so far I actually haven’t needed one.

Before I could do that I got to throw a

Hissy Fit

Honey-Do Handyman were supposed to clean the leaves from my gutters last Friday; as I noted then they didn’t show and didn’t tell me until I called them that day. Same deal today: I left a message last night asking to be told when the guys would show up. No response. I called this morning and left a message at 8am. No call back. At 9am Michelle answered the phone and gave me the same apologetic song and dance, big job in San Francisco, tried to make it work but just couldn’t, blah blah. I confess I yelled at her. “Extraordinarily busy? You’ve been extraordinarily bad a communicating! Forget it, I’m gonna get somebody else.”

You know what? You can’t bang down a cell phone. Stabbing the little red icon extra hard doesn’t have the same effect.

So I called the top-rated gutter cleaning service on Yelp. Then off to San Jose and from there to

Government Bureaucracy

I went to the Social Security office in Mountain View. I wasn’t sure how long this would take, but figured it couldn’t be any worse than the DMV. Actually it pretty nearly is. The waiting area has seats for maybe 30 people. So when they are filled, the security guy at the door won’t let you in. There was a line of about eight when I arrived, and I got in after about ten minutes. (When I left, the line outside was over 20.)

Inside, you check in at a screen and get a number, then wait to be called to one of 15 windows. I was Z937. I swear they called all 9 other Z93x numbers before me, as well as lots of other numbers. But after almost exactly two hours I was called. And could not complete the process because, in order to properly adjust my Social Security status, the very friendly and apologetic agent had to see not only Marian’s death certificate, but our marriage certificate. Which I didn’t have with me.

So I got an appointment for a call-back on 8 January. At least, no waiting that time.

Next up was to drive up to Ace Hardware for more painting supplies for refinishing the tabletops. But along the way I encountered

More Drama

Driving north on Alma in downtown Palo Alto, approaching Addison, I saw the big SUV ahead of me side-swipe a parked Prius. Audible thump, both cars bounce. SUV slows down, continues to the next corner, Channing, turns right. So do I, as I’m going to Ace Hardware right there. I park right outside the store and watch the SUV across the street as it pauses. I note the license, and go into the store.

When I came out it was gone. Just for curiosity I drove around the block, parked on Addison, and looked at the red Prius. Sure enough, a big paint bruise on the left quarter panel. And no note visible. So I wrote up a note describing what I saw and the license number, and my phone number, left it and went on because I had an appointment at


I joined Friends of the Palo Alto Library a decade ago, when we decided to fire Wells Fargo and go with a credit union. We had no direct connection to Stanford, but you can join Stanford Federal Credit Union if you are a member of FOPAL. So we joined. (Today I learned that more than 100 people a year join FOPAL for exactly that reason, to get an account at SFCU.)

Now I want FOPAL for its volunteer opportunities. Today I met with Janette Herceg, who is the volunteer coordinator (and FOPAL’s one and only full-time paid staff person). It’s an astonishing organization. Using mostly volunteers, they have a throughput of over 30,000 books a month; that many donations in and about that many out via their sales or to recycling.

So I’ve agreed to initially work as a sorter on Wednesdays, when they are short-handed. There are other jobs that I may graduate into, but there’s a lot to be learned.

This evening the Prius owner called, very grateful. We agreed she’d pass my info to her insurance agent and take the agent’s advice about contacting the police. Leaving the scene of an accident is a felony, but I don’t personally feel like pursuing that angle.


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