Thursday, June 14, 2007

A reason a man's suit should come with two pairs of trousers

Roy Pearson, a Washington, D.C. judge, has filed a $67 million lawsuit against a dry cleaner who lost the trousers he'd planned to wear his first day on the bench. He claims he's endured "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort." The amount factors in the cost of renting a car get to another dry cleaner. Isn't there a cleaner that delivers in D.C.? Pearson is holding the cleaner to his promise: "Satisfaction Guaranteed."

Even I, who've turned griping into an art form, see this as excessive. I accepted, though not with a tremendous amount of satisfaction, a $150 voucher from American Airlines when my flight was delayed four hours because of the plane needing repairs, causing me to miss a connection and necessitating I pay for meals and a hotel room in Rome (as opposed to being a guest in a villa). Having our bill reduced by half from an exorbitant $250 per person for a truly terrible meal at Le Normandie in Bangkok's Oriental Hotel was, again, a concession and not a true victory. Generally, my complaining is more successful.

I aim to be reasonable and fair. I don't file law suits, just plead my case in phone calls or e-mails. My gripes are both about money and principle. I've walked blocks to return a container of blueberries when I've felt duped that the fuzzy, vintage blueberries had been hidden at the bottom. I see myself as a public servant and hope my zealousness will save others from devious fruit vendors, unreliable contractors and overcharging car rental agencies. The service that "Dateline" is performing to protect young girls from sexual predators is not dissimilar from my own work.

Though I don't often have occasion to quote this administration, when it comes to these efforts, "Failure is not an option". I'm currently distressed that Cop. Copine, a French clothing designer, has been unresponsive to my e-mails. I've sent photos to show that an expensive skirt I bought, worn only a handful of times, has sprung holes, no fault of mine but due to the fabric being flawed. Unlike this greedy Washington judge, all I wanted was a replacement. Maybe they'll hear about Roy Pearson and decide to get back to me.

I'm not sure if my assertiveness is a strength (as in, "she's not a patsy") or a serious character defect (as in, "doesn't she have better things to do with her time?"), but it's in my DNA. My mother returned bathing suits and wigs, which is prohibited by law. She had a whole other skill and mind set. I restrict my requests to those that are legal. When Astor Wines refused to take back undrinkable kosher wine I'd purchased for a fund raiser on the grounds that New York state doesn't allow it, I didn't argue. My mother-in-law has, on occasion, dabbled in griping, most notably at the New York brasserie, Balthazar, where she complained that the wine bottle didn't hold enough. This resulted in my getting a call the following morning from the restaurant, eager to atone by providing me with their private number. It was the only reward I received that could be termed, "griping by proxy".

I'm eager to see how the Pearson case pans out as it could set an extremely important precedent for my own efforts.

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