NASA is reporting this morning that their dead and floundering satellite has burned up in the atmosphere, its ashes (and chunks) scattered safely in the Pacific. We can all rest assured that we will not be killed by falling debris from this particular space trash. As per my column this week on this topic, I can now untether myself from the ground rod, take off my tin foil skull cap and wait for the lottery winnings to pour in.

For all-is-almost-clear news: I called the call-before-you-dig 811 number to have all the underground utilities marked, and I totally got slammed by customer service rep Andy. I didn’t have the coordinates for my property to pinpoint our place on the map for the crews to find us, so Andy was trying to locate us on Google Earth or some other satellite picture site. Ol’ Andy was rattling off some addresses and landmarks, and I was directing him to go east or west along Hwy 2. Then Andy said (and this is a direct quote, though I can’t adequately convey the guy’s tone in writing): “What do you have on your property? It’s a mess.”

You can’t imagine how mad I get at my parents sometimes for instilling in me the knee-jerk reaction to be polite. Between that trained response and my inherent hypershyness, my throat chokes up on what I want to say in situations like this, and I lamely stutter some innocuous response.

What I said to Andy: “Well, it used to be a salvage yard, but we’re getting it cleaned up.”

What my brain was telling him: “What the fuck, dude? Did you learn that in customer relations class, or are you just naturally that rude? Gimme my damn ticket number, then shut your pie hole.”

The little automated message at the beginning of our phone call said that my call would be recorded. So my fervent hope is that Andy ends up being the bad example in a future customer service exercise. Dork.

Yes, I’m defensive and petty. My property might be messy, but it’s my mess, my white trash estate, my empire, and I will not stand by and let some stranger besmirch it.

I will defend its honor at pam[at]