Saturday, June 27, 2015

Slaves to Authority

You used to hear a lot about the East Coast being traditional and hidebound, in contrast to the freewheeling West Coast. I always thought this was malarkey. Maybe it was true 100 years ago, when you had to be kind of an adventurer to make it west of the Rockies, but it couldn't be true any more, what with coast-to-coast air travel being so cheap.

Well, after living in both places, I have to say it's all too true. I don't need to give examples of weird and eccentric behavior from California, but what you may find more interesting are examples of Easterners being absolute slaves to tradition and authority.

1. I had some contractors move a window as part of a kitchen renovation. They found a bundle of TV and phone cables running toward the second floor, across the location the window was supposed to be moved to. I told them to just cut the wires, because we don't have any TVs or phones upstairs, and if we wanted them in the future, they would be on Wi-Fi. They absolutely did not want to do it. They called their boss and he told them not to do it. I said I would sign a note giving them the OK to cut the wires, but that wasn't enough. It was either cut the wires or cancel the whole kitchen job, because if the window could't be moved, it would disrupt the whole layout of the new kitchen. It took an hour of arguing over the phone before they finally relented. I'd have cut the damn things myself but I was at work at the time.

2. Had a new slide-in stove delivered, and I had to also pay them to install it, because my wife wouldn't let me make the gas connection. When the installers showed up with the stove on a truck, they said they would not install it, because they do not install slide-in stoves as a matter of policy. They were afraid of getting in trouble for damaging the countertop. I said (a) this particular stove doesn't actually touch the countertop, and (b) why did they bring the stove all the way out to my house if they weren't gonna install it? I couldn't get it through their thick skulls, so they left. Later, I talked to the people I ordered the stove from, and they gave me the excuse that the opening wasn't the right size. The installers never even measured the opening! And they must have noticed that the old stove already in the opening was the same size and make of the new stove. They really tried to twist and turn to get out of installing the stove. Mind you I was paying them a fee to do this. Finally I got it through to the manager that it was in their interest to at least try to install the stove, that is if they wanted me not to cancel the freaking order.

Now I'm trying to get our local school system to let my son do independent study in math instead of taking their standard course. He would still take the exams, but he'd study with me because I could move him about twice the normal speed. I don't need to tell you that when I brought this up with the math department, you would think I'd asked them to let him bring a pet cobra to class. Absolutely out of the question. The frustrating thing is, if I'd brought them a doctor's note saying he had to be given triple the standard time on tests due to a learning disability, plus had to be allowed to submit his answers in Old Church Slavonic, they would have allowed it, because the Authorities say you must let students do those kinds of things.