As a partial counterbalance to the general gloom of that last entry, I may as well mention an unrelated good thing: I've had several remarkably good customer service experiences lately.
Talked (by phone) with a woman at the DMV the other day, for example, who was friendly and helpful and cheerful and gave me all the information I needed. (And she was right that license plates sometimes take up to 30 days to arrive after they finish being processed; mine arrived today, 29 days after the processing date.) And I talked with a woman at State Farm about unresolved stuff about my old car; when I said that I hadn't yet gotten around to sending in my title after my accident, she said "Me too!" and I said "Huh?" and she told me all about how she'd been in a car accident and was supposed to send in her title but couldn't find it, and eventually figured out she'd never gotten it from the bank after she finished paying off the loan; all of which could've been annoying to have to listen to, but she was so friendly that instead it was charming. And then I talked with a man at State Farm who was also nice, and who quickly agreed to re-send me the forms I need to fill out.
The people at Northwest Airlines last weekend were largely friendly and helpful too (though—did I mention this?—they oversold our outgoing flight by 20 seats, and our return flight by 30 seats!). And I had a very odd interaction with one of them: first she told me she liked my name, and then she started gesturing with both index fingers up and down on her cheeks, on either side of her mouth, and saying things like "very precise!" I eventually figured out, I think, that she was praising the way I had trimmed my beard. (Um, at least I think that was a Northwest person—Kam, am I right about that? I may be conflating a couple of different interactions here.)
Finally, an odd bit from last week: I went to get a haircut, and instead of the woman who usually cuts my hair, a man I don't think I'd seen before cut it. He mostly let me sit quietly, as I prefer, but he did try a couple of times to start a conversation. The first time, he told me that he was really glad Friday was coming; then he explained that it was because of the island. Huh? Turns out he meant that the movie The Island was opening Friday, and he was really looking forward to it. But he talked about it as if it were as big a cultural event as a new Harry Potter book—the kind of thing that everyone would naturally know about and be interested in.
But that wasn't the odd part. The odd part was a little later, after a period of silence (and I should note that this haircut took a total of about 45 minutes, which is two or three times as long as usual at that place), when he suddenly said something about blue eyes. I said huh? He said, "Are they real?" I said huh? again. He said, "Your eyes. They're blue, but your hair is brown. That's pretty unusual." I mumbled something to the effect that yes, they were real. But I was mystified. Weird enough for a haircut guy to comment on my eye color; much weirder that his first assumption would be that they were colored contacts. Especially since he had seen me put on and take off glasses a couple of times already.
So anyway, in case any of you have been wondering all these years but have felt it wasn't polite to ask, my hairdresser has now asked for you, so I can now tell you: yes, my eyes are naturally blue, and my hair is naturally brown. IIrc, blue eyes are recessive; but both of my parents had blue eyes and brown hair. I don't think it's that rare a combination.
(It seems worth mentioning that the haircut guy was of East Asian descent; I imagine that had something to do with his reaction. But I'm having a hard time explaining why that seems relevant. So I'm just gonna give up and go to bed.)