It’s easy to give the benefit of the doubt to people who can give me stuff I want, so I’m quick to forgive her for sending the wrong boots. The bulky brown snowshoes with two-inch-thick rubber soles are a far cry from the lovely, lacquered, English-made Docs for which I placed the winning bid. However, this is my first-ever eBay victory—not merely a routine retail purchase; an empowering victory—and I am hopeful.
Seeing resolution on the horizon, I email the seller. Her eBay alias is “GrungeGurl”–give or take a couple numbers; maybe after she gives me the correct boots we can talk about, like, music. I mean, look at that username–she’s obviously in it for the music.
GrungeGurl responds the next morning, saying her parents packed the wrong shoes and that she herself now lives in China (for reasons undisclosed).
For a moment, I imagine maybe she’s holding down her eBay store’s Chinese corporate headquarters while her parents conduct business on the home front–then I remember how un-DIY that is, and such a devout grunge fan would never alienate those ideals. (Right?) Perhaps she needed a clean slate. I just try not to imagine why.
The offending package, which my mother tells me was hand-delivered, has a return address in a nearby neighborhood (I’m home in Los Angeles for winter break). I relay this information to GrungeGurl, who insists that because her parents and I live so close to one another, “it should take just a day to resolve.” Just a day, huh? Well then, allow me to seize it and come on over.
I slither through traffic, toward the return address, and pull up to an off-white and teal asylum of an apartment complex: Casa GrungeGurl. Her apartment’s buzzer doesn’t work, so I buzz the building manager and ask for unit 213.
“She doesn’t live here anymore.”
“I was told, but I understand her parents are here.” I have no reason to be timid, but my voice swoops up like a question here.
“They moved out, returned they keys this morning.”
With not a soul living at the supposed return address, how am I supposed to return these heinous boots, let alone exchange them? Once home, I email GrungeGurl, informing her that lest her fraudulence be exposed via negative feedback, she’ll have to provide me with a current telephone number to contact…someone. Anyone.
Another day passes before she sends me not her phone number, but that of her mother. She also writes, “I’d appreciate a little less paranoia and a bit more patience.” Because every good salesperson knows that nothing calms a customer like condescension.
I may just have been subjected to cyber sanctimony from someone I gave free money to, but I am not suddenly beyond being hyper-cordial to moms.
On the phone with GrungeGurl’s mom, my voice jumps to an octave-higher whisper: my go-to method of proving that I am not, in fact, Satan.
“Have you found the Doc Martens?” I squeak. A shaky, apologetic “No” reverberates in the basin of my ear: her kid gypped me. But GrungeGurl’s mom is nice, and I’m nice back, and when I tell her the rogue boots must be picked up from my home because there’s no way I’m chauffeuring them to a mystery locale, Mama GrungeGurl complies with zeal.
Upon pressing the END button, I realize the length of my phone is slick with palm sweat.
Once again, I take to the computer. I am concise. I type to GrungeGurl, “Your modes of business operation perplex me.” Cramming complaints into the 70-character feedback template of her eBay page, my brow furrows and my nostrils expand and contract like those of a mad bull. “Sent wrong boots. I tried to exchange only to find out she lost the right ones.”
I save the spiel about being sold nonexistent items, by a woman in China, from a vacated California residence.
GrungeGurl totally understands where I’m coming from and sends me a remorseful email containing the lyrics to Nirvana’s “All Apologies.”
It is rainy and grey the morning her final email arrives, but the subject line, which reads “Hello, pushy cunt,” and the 626-word tirade within, are all the sunshine I need.
She replies in slanderous prose, insulting my intelligence and pitching threats of bodily harm. For taking measures to secure my rightfully owned items, I am a “self-entitled, disgusting consumerist.” Me? A consumer? Yes, she couldn’t be more spot-on, but she’s generating income via a massive e-corporation, essentially fueling this whole “consumerist” agenda.
For questioning these business ethics I am deemed a “newb.” Again, totally spot-on, but at least I can die knowing I never took lessons in discourse from 4chan.
She doesn’t take kindly to the negative feedback, either. “Fuck you […] You retaliate behind your little computer screen like the dimwit coward you are and I know for a fact if we were face to face you would fucking quiver and wouldn’t dare to retaliate in front of me.”
“Now, tell me,” she asks, “how does it feel to be one of two major assholes who out of over 120 people left negative feedback due to their stupidity?”
Well, I can’t say I’m losing sleep over it, since I left GrungeGurl said feedback due to her stupidity.
Her concluding request: “Don’t ever bother me or my family ever again or I will fucking beat the shit out of you next time I’m in LA. Yeah, that’s a threat. Go to the LAPD with that one, I’m sure they’ll be keen on offering you their 24/7 protection.” I’m shaking in my boots—oh, wait.
I do not respond. I will never get my Docs. And GrungeGurl will never get the respect she thinks she deserves.