No longer implicit in one’s own demise…

At my most recent doc appointment, I relayed to my doc an observation made by a very old and dear friend when we went for coffee a few weeks ago.  He’d asked about my eco-kayaking experience.  I told him a lot of what happened.  He looked me right in the eye and said “This makes me think about how much Bonnie bullied you over the years, especially in Puerto Rico.” I said that it had happened a number of times in my life.  He said “I know.  But I’ve never figured out why. You’re completely competent, you’re good to coworkers,  you can get along with anyone.  I just don’t know why –and I’ve really thought about it!”

Well, so have I.

I listened to the Moth Radio Hour a month or so ago, just a couple of days before I met my friend for coffee .  There was a story a woman told about a man she’d met in a writing class, an aspiring reality TV actor and aspiring writer, who had tried out (and gotten the lead) for a reality TV spot which had him meeting three women for one hour each, selecting one of them, marrying her and then their entire first year of marriage was going to be broadcast as the reality TV show.  Hundreds of women applied for the position and he’d spend his evenings looking at the candidates’ various attributes in the form of photos supplied by the network–he enjoyed this “research”.  His girlfriend did not say too much, though she hoped he’d finally opt for her instead of the headshot and bio du jour. This was the pattern for months, from the fall semester into February.  He jokingly told her that she ought to apply to be his wife. She did not, and he said he’d not really meant that anyway.

 

Then the man took his girlfriend out for Valentine’s Day and told her he didn’t love her and that he was going through his contract to marry one of the “top prospects” in the sheaf of candidates he’d been studying. “You’re a beautiful person, inside and out”…the ultimate put-down (especially to a writing instructor)….cliché, pointless and intended to diminish.

She, while telling her story, said she’d lost her boyfriend to a women he’d never met.  That it was sort of like losing your very best friend to his imaginary friend.

I told my doc about this Moth story.  She asked my why this had so resonated with me for so long.  I said there were a number of things that had me coming back to those six minutes of the storyteller’s tale.  My doc asked me to write about why it resonated so deeply for me.  So….here I am, Sunday afternoon, trying to make some sense of something I can’t get out of my head.  I do understand that I identify with this woman emotionally, and it was terrible to have to listen to an earnest, loving person participate the destruction of her own emotional and sexual frame of life.  She was there.  Each night. Reading the pages of his (sub par) novel. Listening to him discuss the head shots and the cruel remarks he’d make about them….all the while hoping that he wouldn’t actually go through with the show.  She helped her own demise.  She facilitated it, she bolstered this egotistical nitwit’s delusions about himself…because she loved him…and had thought that he loved her.

 

The idea of losing one’s best friend to his imaginary friend also has stayed with me…actually with much more force.  Thinking that your best was never to be adequate to what you thought was your best friend. That even the sex you committed to made you simply a place holder and plumbing check for your ambitious partner. When does a body just say ’nuff? Or why wouldn’t one say it?

 

So she lost her best friend to a woman he’d never met, a woman who was an imaginary friend. All she could feel was loss, anger, sorrow and a sense of absurdity….

 

But the last line of her story, delivered with force and hope and deep emotion was:
“Finally, after a few months passed,” she said, “I realized I hadn’t lost anything: I’d won. I realized that I felt lucky.”

 

And I believe she was.

 

She was implicit in her own unhappiness; implicit in her own great loss of friendship. But when she stood up to the pain, stood up for herself, even after the fact, she truly did win.  It’s the standing up for herself that most interests me.  There’s power in simply standing your ground: you grant that power to yourself. …and if you must, you may take it back from someone else.

This is something that I’ve been working on.  I asked Dr D why I’m such an easy target–told her what Rob had said to me.

She told me that my default is not to stand up for myself, my default is to take care of the person in front of me….even if it means inconvenience or pain or disregard for myself. She told me that people see that as someone they can push around, someone they don’t need to respect. And so they don’t.

There’s power in standing your ground. I never understood that before, and still need to learn how to do it well, and to do it consistently.

At some point, I, too, will feel lucky.

 

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Approaching Re-Entry

One of the last posts I made to this blog was just before I began teaching Marine Science to my kayaking class.  It was not the experience I’d expected.  I adored the kids.  I scrambled nightly to try to align what we had managed to do academically with what I had hoped to do academically and toward my end goal for the curriculum.  Seventh graders are  delightful,  amazingly boisterous curious.  Also, they, like me, were simply high on life when we returned to the dock every morning post paddle…and man, was it ever tough to settle them down enough to do anything academic.  Some days they were truly impossible.  Others…

What follows should, by right, be three or four separate posts, posts I lacked the will and words for during the program.

The program was designed for 44 instructional days. Once we accommodated field trips, field days, assemblies, lack of on-time transportation, and the 10 days’ early end to all the first quarter programs (and all transportation thereto), when the school district abruptly went back to its pre-strike calendar.  Notification of this change came when I thought I had 13 remaining instructional days.  Now I had four. Now I had another revamping of lesson planning.  I still believed the kids could master the overarching goal I had set, but it was going to be a struggle.
The classroom teacher wasn’t  responsive to any of the museum’s requests for dialogue during the summer, but we had managed one fifteen minute meeting with both her and the kayaking instructor. I wanted to get some sense of what she wanted the kids to learn. She told me one thing the kids needed: an understanding of matter. That became my starting point.  What I’d hoped for as an endpoint that the students would understand the effect that excess carbon dioxide has on the oceans.  I had no written syllabus–our progress changed the schedule daily.  Very hard way to teach–having to do the plans a week at a time, jettisoning and adding in.
I perceived early on that the “goals” I had …an interdisciplinary picture of the Waterway’s environment, biology, history, importance in trade for thousands of years, and the pollution/contamination/growing population load on the Salish Sea over the past 350 years, as well as the way this delicate marine environment’s illustrates the crisis in our oceans world-wide… as “perhaps” too much.  Was I really so naive? Daily I went home and tweaked my plans, sweating over the classroom teacher’s claim that they had no chemistry, thus wouldn’t master even my revised, truncated plan. It was an exercise in burning midnight oil. My manager, K, the museum’s Education Director, was gone on extended vacation out of the country for the last four weeks of the program, and thus missed most of what follows.
I had an assistant instructor.  An unfortunate creature, though she’d been recommended to my director by a friend who ran an adult ed kayaking program out of another museum.  Turned out that this woman had no science background.  At all. She thought that she was going to get her own small group to teach.  Teach what was unclear.  She said the she’d do better if I had a concrete syllabus to give her.  I said I’d do better as well, but right now we are feeling our way. She had not grasped that we taught Marine Science, and I would be assigning her things to learn and lesson plans to present.  She did not like this arrangement, and she made this known by undermining me to the students, telling the classroom teacher flat-out falsehoods, and telling me she was unprepared to present something she’d been given three days to prepare, (I’d written the entire lesson plan and worksheet and gave it her) saying that she’d never been told to prepare anything.  I said I had emailed it to her.  She said she’d never seen it or received the email.  I pointed out that I’d given it to her on Friday, and that she not only had the hard copy, she had the email. “You didn’t email me.” I pulled out my folder and handed her the print out of my email and her response to my email: “Sounds good!”.
Well, that was a tough interaction for her. She started showing up a bit late, abdicating her classroom duties to “help the guys with the kayaks”, making nasty remarks to me (which I ignored–this woman is nearly 35 years old and desperately needs some “big girl pants”) and clearly Jessica was not getting what she wanted from her position. She accused me of having a “big binder with all the answers” and I “wasn’t giving her access.” The first time she made that allegation it was to my manager, who explained to her that the curriculum was fluid because of the changing schedule and no one was keeping information from her, nor was there a “big binder”. Later, after K had left for her trip, Jessica asked again whether she “could have access to my binder of information.” I reiterated that there was no “big binder”. I knew she was angry that the social science aspects weren’t part of what we had time to address, but it was a Marine Science course. She became more passive-aggressive, making more sniping comments.
Ultimately, she chose an active though indirect aggression:  making a discrimination complaint against me for “refusal to acknowledge the pronoun preference” of one of the employees of the museum, the education coordinator. The young woman in question self identifies as gender: non-binary and sex: female, and has become a very dear to me over the past year. And yes, this woman, E.,  is adamant about the “they/their” pronoun usage.  E. and I had talked about the difficulty getting people to use the pronouns, and E. is now, and was then, fully aware of my struggle/inconsistency: We’d discussed it at length.  I’d also discussed it extensively with my manager, the Education Director. I am imperfect but willing and learning. The first 3 or 4 months I knew E. I had no idea of their pronoun choice (nor, to be honest, had I ever met anyone who wanted such pronoun usage.)  In my former job, I’d had two employees who were midway through a gender transition, and I asked how they would each like to be addressed, so it wasn’t as though pronoun adjustments were completely foreign to me. However it was foreign to me that someone would choose a plural pronoun. I still have to stop myself from asking “E. and who else?”…I don’t think of E as “they”, not because I don’t think pronouns matter, but because they do matter and specificity of syntax and meaning are the bedrock of communication.
Jessica came to me about three days after the above.  She asked me “Do you want to know why Sophie was looking for me?”
I said “No, I’m sure she had good reason.”
Jessica proceeded, unfazed, to tell me that one of the docents had taken her around the museum.
I said “Yes, I saw that.  It was nice of her to take the time.”
“Well,” says Jessica, “She used a racial slur when talking about the Puyallups.”
“Oh. What did you say to her when you heard that?”
“Well, I didn’t say anything.  I went down to Vickie (HR) to make a complaint about her.”
“Wouldn’t it have shown more leadership to correct the language and explain how and why the word could be construed as a slur?”
“But I did make a complaint.”
Having walked through the museum with the same docent, I do not believe that any slur was used.  In one of Jessica and my weirder discussions we talked about movies. Jessica actually thought that the scene in the movie My Cousin Vinnie where Joe Pesci, in tough guy New York-ese, calls his cousin and cousin’s friend “two yutes” meaning two youths was an instance of racism. Jessica claimed it was a racist Indian slur referring to the Ute people. Words failed me on that one.
Jessica claimed to me repeatedly that “people your age” have a lot of trouble changing, and “people your age” don’t really get being “woke” (a buzz word that makes my skin crawl). I confess that after the first time she made remarks about me/ my age/ my developing curriculum I ignored her.  In retrospect, perhaps that was a poor strategy.
However, when we had our wrap up meeting: the good, the bad and the ugly, Jessica showed everyone her true nature.  She spontaneously commented that “several of the children didn’t like you” and “several of the children thought your teaching style wasn’t good” “several of the children told me they didn’t learn anything” and “a number of the children told me that they had trouble learning because they had no detailed syllabus.”  I ignored all of it, as it was just so much bull and so random.  I did speak up though, when Jessica said “Season (the classroom teacher) told me that she didn’t like your disciplining the students.” I remarked “Gee, Jessica, Season is a professional, and if there were a problem, Season would have discussed it with me rather than with you.” and didn’t address it further.  Jessica was about to say more when Season showed up (got stuck at school) to the meeting.  Jessica didn’t say anything else. The meeting closed with recognition of the great successes:   huge newspaper stories, terrific video clip on the newspaper’s website, lots of community support, parents loved it, museum board members (who came by to observe) had great things to say about the classroom work they’d observed and the kayaking they’d watched…
I had a meeting with K, the Education Director, a couple of weeks later, off site at a coffee shop we both enjoy.  It was a good, marginally healing experience.  We spent nearly five hours going through my notes, my ideas for improvement, what it all might look like going forward, but I had not gone back to the museum, nor did I go to the semiannual employee boat trip/cocktail party, though the museum’s Executive Director did email me to ask why I’d declined and he’d really like to see me.  I was on the East Coast visiting family at the time and was grateful for the personal email, but was even more grateful that I was away.
Frankly, the whole experience knocked me sideways.  I know the entire attacking me in the meeting thing was bullshit.  I know the discrimination complaint was something malicious and spurious.  But the fact that the “complaint” had been taken seriously by human resources,  the fact that there wasn’t any fact checking, the obvious surprised confusion both HR and the Executive Director exhibited by learning, during my “Interview”, that I was then and remain now good friends with the education coordinator, and, in fact, they and their husband were off camping that weekend, after borrowing all of my camping gear.  W and V were both confused by this. I was confused as well as disheartened and shocked. I had no idea where this had come from until Jessica proudly told me of her interaction with the docent. Then I knew how it had all come about.
Suddenly, the work I so enjoyed, the magic of the whole thing was gone.  My workplace felt toxic.
I’d avoided going back to the museum for weeks, but we had a training program last week.  I needed to go.  Re-entry was easier than I had expected.  Both my manager and E met me at the door with huge hugs and greetings and, frankly, joy.  I still feel some trepidation, and some of the distrust of coworkers and worse, distrust of myself and my ability to protect myself persists.
I’d been unable to write during the entire program.  Not because of time, but because of will, and hurt, and anger.  This self-doubt is something I’m struggling to shake off.

Life, Liberty, and Pursuit

I was talking to a friend of mine a while ago.  My friend posed a stumper of a question: Don’t I deserve to be happy?.  Well, the knee jerk response when someone you care about asks such a thing is, naturally, “Of course you do.” regardless of how you evaluate “happy or “unhappy”–we never want those we love to be in pain. But it got me thinking.  I brought it up at my doc appointment…happiness in general;  is happiness deserved; and if so, who are the deserving members of the human community?

She asked me “Don’t you deserve to be happy?”.  I couldn’t take it in–do I deserve to be happy?  I realized that I do not believe I do deserve to be happy. The realization freaked me out: does everyone else think their rights and their value extend to their deserving happiness? What’s wrong with me that I don’t count myself in that cohort, nor, on reflection, have I ever.

I’ve been noodling on this for weeks.  Not obsessively, just something I touch on and then accept there’s no answer…then noodle some more.  Am I happy?  Have I ever been happy? What is happiness, anyway?  The aforementioned friend asked me what great sins have I committed that I do not believe that I deserve happiness.   I’m 54 years old…loads of time to commit all variety of sins, alas.

When I was a kid, I read incessantly (still do, for that matter).  I actually remember the first time I consciously thought about happiness–the concept was broached in a novel I was reading.  The protagonist was a girl of eleven, as I was at the time.  She’d moved to a new neighborhood, and there were a lot of kids.  They played night hide and seek on sticky summer nights.

Nighttime hide and seek was a weekly summer ritual at my grandparents’ cottage. Cousins, neighbors, kids who spent whole summers there and weekend kids like me. Lots of old structures, unoccupied houses, especially by Sunday night, spiderwebs and toads, occasional headlights unmasking the hidden, and the scents of lighter fluid, cigarettes, grilled meat, and sweat.  It was a wild place in my eyes, not because it was wilderness, not at all–this was a summer enclave of Boston Irish, where any “wilderness” would have been promptly swept up or tidied away– but wild in its lack of street lights, houses left dark and silent when the weekend was over, leaf piles left to molder in a careless hope of building soil for a lawn from the sand, and night noises like secrets, silenced if one got too close.

Anyway, the protagonist, whose name I can’t recall, was hidden in her “best” hiding place and began to feel off kilter and weird. She was sweaty, filthy and alone in the dark, listening to the other kids’ efforts to find her, and suddenly realized that this must be the feeling of “happy”.

I remember it both because of the parallels, and because I wondered for years after that when I would recognize “happy”.

I did recognize it a few times that I can remember, and in reflecting on that, those times all had something in common: I was moving/sweating/hiking/walking etc.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt “happy” when I wasn’t moving. I feel joy when I read a well-written book or essay, or have student grasp a difficult concept, but “happy”?  Maybe relief and satisfaction would be more to the point.

So, deserving of happiness.  I’m not sure that’s a useful expectation.  I do think all people are equal in their right to pursue happiness–it ranked right up there with life and liberty in the Declaration. Perhaps for that reason alone we (as a nation) expect that we can and should pursue happiness.  But pursuit of most things is isolating….it is a human right, to pursue, inalienable. But it places us in competition with others in the same pursuit. Competition is, by its me-or-you definition, isolating.

Deserving.  I wonder.  It does seem to smack of every child gets a trophy, or some other bogus prize.  I do deserve the right to pursuit. Every person does.  But do we all deserve to win? And on whose feet might we step in this pursuit as we try? And is that sin enough to vacate the notion “deserving of happiness“?

Facing the Fall Alone

One of my favorite quotations is this observation by A Bartlett Giamatti:

“[Baseball] breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”

I grew up a Boston Red Sox fan. In the 1970’s, the Red Sox nearly always left one to face the fall alone, without even the solace an AL Pennant, let alone a World Series win.  Even in 1975, after a spectacular Series, even after Fisk’s 12th inning home run in Game 6…the following evening, baseball left us to face the fall alone.  And for those of us in the elementary school set, the Curse of the Bambino was to evolve into our first experience of predestination.  We’d never win.  We learned that hope is, by nature, edged with desperation and resignation.

It didn’t matter.  Every morning my sisters and I looked first at the sports page, the standings, and then at the front page.  We learned what the “magic number” was.  Our Saturday mornings started with Schoolhouse Rock; afternoons with WSBK Sox broadcast.  Memories of my father climbing onto the roof in Vermont during a downpour to rig up a better antenna to at least (maybe?) be able to see the game, of him Halloween morning with red and black Marks-a-Lot markers, transforming my white sweatshirt into a Red Sox jersey, complete with #19, for my trick or treating costume, of my playing catcher on the softball team with him breathing down my neck–umpire Dad, calling balls and strikes, which, at 13, I found wicked annoying.

I left home. I watched the 1986 World Series with a bunch of Mets fans in upstate New York.  I married another baseball geek, though he was a lifelong Yankees fan, and because we lived in upstate New York, the Yankees were the only games broadcast.  Summer evenings, driving the rural highways home from my night classes, I’d look at the farms and cows and the hills, and listen to the game.

By the time the Red Sox vanquished the Curse , I was long a confirmed Seattle Mariners fan.  Here was a team that was destined to break my heart and soul all over again.  It’s September now.  The Mariners have gone from an 11 game lead over the A’s to 9 games behind them in the Wild Card. There’ve been fisticuffs in the locker room, a star suspended for drug use, some spectacular pitching, a phenomenal closer and some truly great baseball.  Sadly, most of the great baseball occurred largely before the All-Star break.  It’s been a gently sloping ride into oblivion for our poor Mariners.  They’re so much better than they have been in years.  In any other division they’d look a hell of a lot better than they do.

I’ll root wholeheartedly for the Red Sox in the playoffs.  I’ll be ecstatic if they can win the whole thing.

But the Mariners.  Ah, the Mariners are leaving me to face the chill rains of fall alone.

Waiting

I’m a marine science instructor at a local not-for-profit.  We get a lot of kids on field trips during the school year, as well as longer term regular programs with particular cohorts of students.  One of those programs involves kids doing their fieldwork from kayaks, and analysis and so forth in the museum classroom.  To run this program, we need many things, but most especially…we need the kids.  They arrive on school buses from their school, having gotten on the bus at school. Which means school must be open.

Right now, though, there is no school.  Our local teachers are on strike.  The walkout is stretching into the fifth day, and the school board and the union are no closer to agreement than they were in the last week in August.  I support the teachers’ union, despite this program’s being placed in some peril: We have a limited time to bring the kids out on the water, as the cold rains of fall could make it unsafe for them to be out.  By early November, we’ll be entirely at the mercy of the Aleutian Low, and the winds from coastal California, meaning storms with buckets of rain and temperatures in the low 50’s. Before you think “What are they?  Some species of delicate flower?”, think this: These are 12-year-old kids, on a body of water that tops out in the heat of summer at around 53 degrees, and even in protected areas has a strong tidal flow.  As the rains hit the higher elevations, massive dead trees are washed into the creeks and rivers and are washed into the Sound.  So time for this endeavor is limited. A strong teachers’ union, though, is critical to public school success, as it is an easily exploited workforce: For example they’re never paid by the hour, but what needs to be done each day and throughout the summer is seldom finished by the “end of the school day.” so they work off the clock daily, because they believe in the higher needs of education.
From a purely selfish standpoint, I want the strike resolved.  I want this program to be successful.  I want to be paid.  I want to see the progression of skills mastery as the students progress and gain confidence.  I want this to be unforgettable for these kids, as they develop reverence for the Sound, an understanding of the life within it, and the confidence that they can go out enjoy the Sound for both work and play.
The “moving parts” are legion: the school, the buses, the museum, the park system loaning us the kayaks, the pool and water safety instruction that we’ll do in the beginning of the program.  I’m hopeful we will get underway within the next week or so.

Refraction

Parts break away from us all the time.  I don’t mean the cellular detritus of moving through physical space that is so beloved  to the CSI television programs.  I mean the goals or ideals we hold, precepts we think are intrinsic to who we are, which become too dangerous to hold onto, or too painful even to bandage while we hope for healing.  Parts break away and we ignore the gaps;  try remapping those treacherous neural pathways; become who we were not, even if the new is less.  Smaller, tighter, and initially safer.

So we make different choices.  Verbalize different goals.  Something unexpected.  Something fantastical, coaxed from the prosaic routine-bound brain.  This.  This will stop the nearly leprotic sloughing of what we wish we could keep, but which has died, and just must go to save the shrinking organism.

And so we do.  We join groups.  We re-up on social media.  We decide to be different, for we hate what was.  What was, who was….well, that just resulted in job loss or other calamity.

So now I’m different!  I can social network!  I can manage up!  Yes, I am the sort of person who can negotiate the politics of human relations with warmth, while yet maintaining my personal privacy.  I can demand equality in human relations.  I can absolve my guilt over not meeting someone else’s needs.  I will not feel guilt over placing my own needs before another’s.     (Why am I hearing an old Neil Diamond song in my head?  You know the one…not even the chair….)

Am I really different?  I am unclear on that.  I’m inside-out, backwards and fragmented.  I’m unhappy.  I’m angry.  Though I am not at all lonely, not in a global sense.  I despair about losing friends and family members.  I can maintain my privacy while being a supportive loving friend.  I’d still put a loved one’s emergency oxygen mask on before I put on my own, but I’m working on bolstering those self-preserving neural pathways I’ve long lacked. Hey, at least I know my limitations.

Then add dirt, and stir.

I wrote a check this week.  It isn’t the largest one ever, or anything like that, but for me it was a lot of money.  The car dealership is holding the check until my car is delivered, likely on Monday.  I hadn’t wanted to go the “financing” route, thus I bought a car I could pay for outright.

The sales guy was good.  He was truly a people-oriented human being, and he wanted me to have a good experience…and to get the car I needed with as much of what I wanted as I could afford.  It’s the last week of the fiscal year, and the dealership was just hopping with customers.  The dealership offered “financing” twice.  They had me sign for a credit check (given that I was writing a personal check, I guess I’d have done the same.)  They needed to locate the vehicle I wanted.  It’s at another dealership and they’ll deliver it.

So…deal made. I had to wait for over an hour for the financial portion of the sale to commence,  in the little room with the glass door where I met the Finance Guy.  By this point, it was after 9PM and I’d been at the dealership since before 6PM.  The dealership team had been very solicitous: offering coffee, tea, water, granola bars, fruit …dog biscuits.  I settled for water: what I wanted was to go home, eat smoked trout on rye crackers and read a book.  Then the moment had come: The Finance Guy came to call me into his office….felt a bit like going to see the headmaster, were the headmaster a decade or more younger than I am.  He began his spiel by shaking my hand and calling me by a fairly logical but really unwelcome diminutive of my first name.

Next, he started what amounted to a word salad.  He prefaced his pitch with “People tell me a speak really fast, so if you need me to repeat something just tell me.” He proceeded to try his damnedest with fast speech, flashing papers in front of me, repeating himself in slightly different slant, not making sense, and, most alarming, not letting me see and hold the papers with these fees and recommendations.  He told me there was no warranty, and I ought to buy one…and “this is the most economical over the long-term…”

He recommended a clearcoat (Jay Leno uses this same product on his cars(!)) He recommended key fob insurance. There were other items…but I can’t recall them : he wouldn’t give me the print out.

He tried as hard as he could to sell me more than half again as much as I was spending on the entire car, in these “extras”.  “This is your chance for extended coverage and a bumper to bumper warranty!” he said. One extra was finally revealed as a line item that was just fee the dealership added, and not part of the licensing fee as it was portrayed on the sales agreement, and I tried to strike it.  Finance Guy said  “It makes the insurance cheaper….and blah blah blah.” He ignored my requests for copies “You can see them when the car’s delivered.”

I’d had it by then, but I do need the car….  I pulled out my checkbook.  He said to me “I can fill the check out for you.  It’s a lot of words.” (what the hell?) I did not respond to that “offer”and I wrote my own check.  Soon as we were done,  I fled the little room with the glass door. So glad to go home. Felt good that refused all these “warranties and protections.” Almost.  I still had that line item dealer’s fee in the total.

I dined on smoked trout and buyer’s remorse.  This morning I called the US headquarters of the manufacturer.  Talked to a delightfully honest man who explained that the car has upon my purchase a 3 year warranty, and if I wished to extend it, I can do that any time before the end of the manufacturer’s warranty.  He said the other “protections” are all third-party offers–and it’s all stuff Finance Guy gets commissions on.  The guy at the HQ was very blunt. Finance Guy makes his money and keeps his job by selling this stuff, so he’ll do anything to make a sale.  I said I felt blind-sided.  He said “It was time. Time to just add dirt, and stir.  Muddy the waters and people have no idea what they’re consenting to.”

This guy from HQ will be sending me a rebate after I get the title to my car.  He emailed me a form as soon as we got off the phone.  He reminded me that I can demand that line item mentioned above is struck and I can write a fresh check.

He closed his email:

“I will follow up with you on Thursday if I do not hear back from you.

Please be careful in the finance office.”

And I will be.

Update, 2 days later: Received vehicle.  I was careful in the finance office.  I did demand the line item be struck and I did write a fresh check.  Satisfied, though not enchanted, which is a fine enough position.