Quality of Life: There’s No Place As Frustrating As A New Home


Here is an OCI lesson for you: never be negative about anything during an interview because it will make you look bad. I had an attorney ask me about fly-out week, and the first thing that came out of my mouth was, “Oh, I don’t really like to travel.” Oops. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when I go to Harvard and am interviewing out west.

It’s not that I don’t like to travel so much as I don’t like to move, which is all that my traveling has been over the past two or three years. Graduate from college and move back home. Sell house and move into an apartment. Leave apartment and ship my things to Cambridge, breaking at least a fourth of my glass kitchen goods in the process. Schlep my things from my dorm to a new apartment, and then off for my summer job, where, joy, I can step into a pre-furnished place. Back for my second year of law school with an apartment to furnish, cable to hook up, and more glass to break.

My first weekend here, I went out on Friday afternoon to a certain local furniture retailer, which I will call “Dock 7.” I bought three pieces of furniture, and they were all in the store when I bought them. I should have called a cab van, but instead I said they could deliver it – for $100. I was told I should hear from the delivery company, which I will call “Tortoise Trucking” within 2 days. Nearly two weeks and about ten phone calls later, I finally had all three pieces of furniture in my apartment. By that time, I’d already had a nearly complete letter of complaint, laying out step by step what I had been through to track down the furniture.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the beginning and end of my Dock 7 complaint letter:

“Finally, on the afternoon of Friday September 8, a full week after ordering the furniture, Tortoise Trucking called to arrange delivery. I was told that they were not able to arrange one-hour windows for delivery, and could only give me a morning or afternoon timeframe on a weekday and could call me an hour before my delivery.”

I’m a student who lives less than ten minutes from school, so I was able to make this work. If I’d had a job, however, I would have ended up having to take two days off work, because:

“When the deliverymen arrived, they only had my trunk. I called Tortoise Trucking and left a message for the woman in charge of the Dock 7 account. She promptly called me back and told me that they had the other two items of furniture, but could not deliver them that day because all their drivers were out. She offered to deliver them first thing in the morning.”

First thing the next morning turned out to be 12:50 p.m. the next day. That isn’t even first thing in the afternoon.

The “happy ending” to this story is the apology note, coupon, and delivery charge refund I received within three days from the Dock 7 manager. At least his end seemed to have its act together.

As if the furniture fiasco weren’t enough, Comcast assigned me a telephone number that belonged to Verizon, and when the cable guy – I never have met a cable lady, but I assume they exist – came to install my service, the phone wouldn’t work. He said he’d need to come back the next week. When next week rolled around a different cable guy showed up and, no surprise here, told me he couldn’t help because a new number hadn’t been assigned to me. Turns out, all I had to do was call Comcast and have them assign me a new number. It took twenty minutes. That’s a week without phone service that I’m paying for because I’m not angry enough to write a letter about it.

Finally, a miracle, though a somewhat inconvenient one: as I was trying to loosen my window one night, weary from many hours of studying (no hyperbole: it was probably the most I’ve studied all semester, and as a result of this incident I’ve had a curious aversion to studying ever since), I put my hand right through the window. I pulled it out in a daze, expecting to see blood, but there wasn’t a scratch on me. I must have been exhausted because I crawled into bed fully clothed and woke up the next morning convinced I had dreamt the whole thing.

I hadn’t. There was a one-foot, jagged chunk of glass that had popped right out of the frame.

This story has a happy ending too. I asked the handyman in my apartment to fix the window, and turns out he’s the most literate person I’ve met here in Cambridge. He’s recommended several interesting sounding books, and filled me in on some local history; he told me about the rioting in Boston when the city instituted busing to desegregate the schools. A week later, we talked about it in my Law and Education course. He also told me how to get out to Walden Pond – take the regional rail from Porter Square – which is a trip I’ve been meaning to take for ages.

I’ll end on that positive note and save the story about my toilet for some other week.

Erin Archerd ’08 would be happy to have some company on her trip to Walden Pond. Email her at earcherd@law.harvard.edu if you’re interested.

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