Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
A Tribe Called Quest - "I Left My Wallet In El Segundo"

I lost my wallet last month. I didn't realize it was gone until I was getting ready to transfer busses, reached into my bookbag to grab my wallet and the bus pass it contained, and saw that the wallet was gone. Needless to say, losing the wallet set off some panic. At first, I figured it had been stolen. But I retraced my steps since I last had it and realized that was impossible. I must have dropped it on the bus when trying to put it in my bookbag. (Why did I carry my wallet in my bookbag rather than my back pocket, like real men do? Well, I have chronic back problems and sitting on a wallet does not help this.) I hailed a cab and on the ride home made a list of the banks and credit card companies I needed to call. Canceling credit and debit cards is remarkably easy, this is one area where you can get a customer service rep pronto. No doubt banks view fraudulent spending on lost/stolen cards as much as a hassle as consumers do. And I'm fortunate to have been banking at the same local bank (First National Bank of the Lakes, 31st and Hennepin) for so many years as I was able to bike into the drive-up and cash a check for spending money without having to show my (now-lost) ID.

This story ends well. My Dad - my parents and sister are listed in my wallet as emergency contacts - called me two days after I had lost the wallet, somebody had found it. It was a security guard at an apartment tower over in the Seward neighborhood. I bussed over to his building and he handed me my wallet, absolutely nothing in it was missing. I asked him if he was the one who found it; he said no, that somebody had found it and turned it into the rental office. (It is a mystery how the wallet got to this rental office. My best guess is that somebody found it on the bus and rather than giving it to the bus driver, handed it over to the security guard in the building, figuring they would know what to do with it.) I offered him twenty bucks for reaching out to my Dad and holding the wallet, he would have none of it. He, along with the mystery person who originally found it, was one of the great people I dealt with in my 48 hours of lost walletdom. Others:

Wells Fargo - Yes, the big bank came up big. They offered me a new credit card with rush service for only $16. I had placed my call to them on 6 p.m. on a Friday and via FedEx I had a new credit card on 8 a.m. Monday. As I had already cancelled all my cards, this was huge.

Metro Transit - After canceling all my cards, I called Metro Transit to see if they had found my wallet. The customer service rep I spoke with asked what route I was on when I lost the wallet, then proceeded to try to call the driver (who was still on his route) to see if a wallet had been found. After being unable to reach the driver, he contacted his boss to give him/her my phone number in case somebody turned in my wallet that night.

SuperAmerica on 35th and Nicollet - They sell Heggies pizzas (the BEST frozen pizzas around, and it's not even close), and I needed some comfort food after the panic, phone calls, and the thought of having to go to the DMV to get a new driver's license.

And finally, I learned an important lesson here. I don't need the Costanza-like wallet that contains every important card and document I have. Stupidly, I had my social security card in my wallet. Who ever actually uses that card? The Social Security Administration's website says you don't even need one if you have your number memorized. I also had two credit and two debit cards in my wallet - one each for my business and for my personal use. I think jamming all of that stuff into a wallet is behavior I started when I was in junior high and first got a wallet. Back then I would carry dollar bills in it. But as I got older and society and corporations gave me more responsibility, I acquired more cards and documents, and felt more and more grown up as I filed these in my wallet.

Now? I bought a new wallet and it contains: driver's license, one debit card, one credit card, bus pass, and library card. That's all I need when I'm out and about, and I could probably leave the credit card at home also. All the other bank cards are in my old wallet kept in a desk drawer. And the new wallet is very thin so I can keep it in my back pocket. I got a chain wallet so I don't lose it. This also helps my look as I push fifty: sneakers, Levi's, chain wallet, long-sleeve Jimi Hendrix Experience teeshirt, UND hockey hat pulled low, and transition lenses. But which of my wallets will I put my AARP card in?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
The Replacements - "I'll Be You"





Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
Me First And The Gimme Gimmes - "Who But The Bomp (In The Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)"

I was saddened to hear of the passing of writer Tom Hallett last month. I hadn't communicated with him in a number of years, but loved his writing (among other things, that his 'Round The Dial column always started with a quote - just like Duck, You Sucker! and The Wire - and ended with his affirmation to "make yer own damn news") and the conversations we had when we across each other in clubs early last decade. That City Pages article I linked to above has lots of great memories from folks who knew him better than I did. But here's a few memories of my own:

- Meeting Tom for the first time in 2001. We had exchanged a few emails and were in the process of forming a mutual fan club. I head to the Turf Club, where I had been quite a few times, but never in the daytime. It's a Sunday around 3 p.m, it's sunny and bright outside, but dark inside and not too populated (it's Grand Young Day, but things haven't really kicked in yet.) I grab a beer and ask the bartender "Is Tom Hallett here?" He glances around the bar, points to a table, and says "Yeah, that's him in the hat." I approach a table of four guys engaged in conversation. Denim, leather, smokes, beers. If it's a crime novel, these are Elmore Leonard's colorful characters. Me, I am a citizen probably wearing Chucks, Levis, and a UND hockey shirt. I walk up to Tom and ask: "Hey, are you Tom Hallett?" Table goes quiet. Guy asks me: "Who wants to know?" "Uh, I'm Bill Tuomala from Exiled on Main Street." A grin, an eager handshake. "Bill! Yeah! Great to meet you!" Then he starts riffing to the table about my writing. Laughs, much music talk, and a few beers ensued.

- Tom moved to Alaska for a time and once mailed me a mix CD. But this wasn't just some CD-R with a bunch of songs on it and a black Sharpie blurb written on the disc. He designed a cover and lovingly wrote out the track listing (click on the image on the left to see it.) He even personalized the name of it for me: Bill's Boilermakers (He also noted it was volume 17, that City Pages post did say that he loved to assemble mix tapes and discs. I'd love to see what the sixteen prior volumes were like … and all the others that followed, natch.) There is where I first heard this week's tune, track number five on this mix.

- Last time I remember talking/emailing with Tom was a few years ago. He was having a record sale at his house, he signed off with something like "C'mon out man. You don't even have to buy anything. I just wanna drink beer with you." Rest in peace, Tom. I smile every time I think of you.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
The Backbeat Band - "Money (That's What I Want)"

There was an article in Sunday's Star Tribune about how the state of Minnesota is sitting on $600 million in unclaimed assets. Once I saw the headline, I immediately rolled my eyes. You see, I'm on the list of those who have unclaimed assets, but I can't claim the dough. (We'll get to that later.) I first heard about the unclaimed assets in 1999, when the state revenue department had a publicity campaign to push people to step forward and secure their unclaimed money and property. The campaign used Governor Jesse Ventura to this effect, an ad said something like "Governor Ventura Wants You To Get Your Unclaimed Money." They printed a long list in the newspapers, and I saw my name. I called the state and was told that it was a $200 check related to business I had done in Florida. The rep told me I would have to fill out a claim form, have it notarized, and also provide proof of having done business in Florida. I knew immediately where this check was from. Earlier that decade, I had worked for a general contractor and was assigned a trust account in order to write checks for things such as blueprints, permits, and occasional office needs. This checking account was in my name, rather than the company's, probably because they were too paranoid to give me signing authority on their company-wide checking account.

Monthly, I would turn in a reconciliation and a detail of this account, which led to some of those great boss/subordinate conversations:

Accounting Boss: "Why did you write a $25 check for a fan?"
Me: "My old one was busted and I needed a new one, my office gets really stuffy in the summer."
Accounting Boss: "You should have gone through Purchasing."

(Later that year:)

Me: "I need a new ten-key, mine is busted. Do you know if Purchasing has any spare ones on hand?"
Accounting Boss; "Bill, we're a billion-dollar company. A ten-key runs like what, thirty bucks? Take your checkbook to the office supply store!"

At one point, the company had a project going on in Florida and I wrote a $200 check for blueprints. So while I never had been to Florida and this check wasn't technically "mine", it apparently had never been cashed and the authorities in Florida turned the money over to Minnesota. I would have taken the money and run, but I had no way of proving Florida business and didn't figure a fraud rap was worth $200.

BUT: People became obsessed with this unclaimed assets list. I heard from immediate family members, non-immediate family members, friends of relatives, etc. about my unclaimed money. I patiently told the story about how the money wasn't mine. "Are you sure?" they would always ask. Then about five years later, I got an email from a friend saying his wife had found The List and saw my name. I told him the 1999 story all over again. He suggested I call the state, maybe this was other money. (I did not make the call.) So now we have another round of publicity about William P. Tuomala's unclaimed money that actually isn't William's. Thing is, back in 1999, the state maintained they would seize all the unclaimed stuff in a year for their general fund if the individuals didn't speak up for it. Goddamn gubmint: You were supposed to make this Florida nonsense of mine go away years ago!