Getting it done on the Metro

So a few weeks ago, on a Tuesday afternoon, things were seeming fairly under control on the work front. Client check-ins had been accomplished, requests had been handed off to my developers, and I was feeling like I could slip away for a couple hours to visit The Secretary of the State of California.

The Secretary of State is of course up in Sacramento, but he also maintains an outpost in Los Angeles at 300 Spring Street.

I didn’t tell my clients or my developers that I was going anywhere. I had my trusty Apple device, and therefore they could contact me via email, text, Skype, Slack and yes even telephone.

So I dashed out the door and hopped on the Metro train to downtown Los Angeles.

As soon as I got onboard a client messaged with a question, and I called her and told her I was ‘working from public transit at the moment haha,’ but I had to hang up, because one of my developers popped up and needed a password reset for something.

As I was trying get that to him … DANG! The train went underground and I lost my signal, and the ability to communicate with humans other than fellow passengers in my immediate vicinity.

This is what my screen looked like as I repeatedly and unsuccessfully rushed to get the needed password reset before going underground.


Rushing is never the answer.

I got off the train near the Central Library. When I got up to the street level, I looked around for a place to sit down. I was determined to successfully accomplish work while running my errand.

There was a lot going on with people bustling every which way. There was a man who had taken up residence near the entrance to the station. He was casually eating the largest baloney sandwich I have ever seen. His earthly possessions were taking up a lot of space, and there were two horseback cops who seemed to know and like him, trying to deal with the situation of him blocking the busy sidewalk.

There was one quiet spot off to the side of the general melee. So I hurried over and sat down cross-legged on the ground, and tried to close out the world around me, to focus on my phone and the tasks at hand.

Another man suddenly appeared on the scene and started yelling as loud as he could at the cops: “HEY!!… IS THAT YOUR HORSE?” over and over again.

The answer seemed obvious because one cop was on his horse, and the other was standing right next to his horse.

The cops, passersby, the horses and the man eating the huge baloney sandwich all totally ignored the yeller.

At this point I noticed it kind of smelled like pee. EEK! I jumped up and to my extreme displeasure discovered that my pants were not wet, but at the same time they were not bone dry either. 🙁 🙁 🙁 .. I know! Pee!

But I had come this far and there was nothing I could do so I decided to soldier on.

After walking for a couple minutes and feeling fairly miserable, I realized that I was wearing work shoes unfriendly to walking more than short distances.

But again, I had come this far. It didn’t seem worth it to summon an Uber for a 10-minute walk. Plus it’s not like I could sit on anything. I’d have to kneel on the seat facing backwards or something. Also there was the potential to take photos of vintage signs and buildings and whatnot on the way.

The Alexander Hotel: halfway between the train station and the Cal S of S office.

The Alexandria Hotel: halfway between the train station and the Cal S of S office.

Finally! 300 Spring Street.

Now I had to get to the 12th floor.

Due to my unfortunate state, I wanted to ride the elevator alone. I pretended I was reading the building map on the wall to avoid getting in with a group.

At last I arrived at my destination.

I discovered that the Los Angeles Regional Office of the California Secretary of State is a lot like the waiting room of the Netherworld from Beetlejuice.

There were several very unusual looking people sitting in a row, just staring straight ahead. They paid me no attention. They seemed like they had been there awhile, and were not planning on going anywhere, anytime soon.

There was no one waiting at the counter, so I excitedly walked up with my paperwork ready to go!

I was promptly ignored by the several people working. hmmm

Then I noticed … aha!

Off to the side there was an old fashioned ‘take a number’ wheel dispenser thingie.

Although it was not attached to any kind of electronic system or anything, as soon as I pulled off a number, the civil servants sprang to life, (!) and one came over to help me.

He said “You are here to file for a name?” I said yes and gave him my already filled out paperwork.

He went away to check if I could have the name I wanted, and he came back just a few minutes later smiling either because he loves his job when he can make people happy, or because I smelled and this meant I would be leaving.

“Congratulations, you’re a corporation!”

“Awesome! .. what.. wait .. I’m trying to reserve a name and file for a LLC.”

“What!? That’s not what you said!”

“I didn’t’ say anything. Look at my forms, they are filled out for a LLC.”

“Well I filed you as a corporation. You can’t do a LLC from the regional office.”


“It’s by mail only. Did you read the instructions that came with the forms? It says that a corporation name can be reserved at the regional office, it does not say that for a LLC.”

He was so kind as to underline the word ‘corporation’ for me.

He was so kind as to underline the word ‘corporation’ for me.

“Well now what?”

“I will cancel your corporate status. Your filing fee will be refunded.”

“Great. Thanks. Can I have my forms back?”

“No. I signed and stamped them.”

“I’m not trying to steal a corporation from the state or something. Can you just cross it out, because I need to get this in the mail today, and if you read what I clearly requested on the form, you will see that I filled it out correctly, so can I please have it back?”

“No. But you may keep the instructions.”

Thoroughly dejected, I returned to the Metro and headed westbound on the train. By the time I got back home, I had a bloody foot from where my shoe had been rubbing against my heel. The afternoon was not going well.

There was a small package waiting for me on top of the mailbox. It looked like someone had dropped an anvil on it. When I picked it up it was clear that whatever was inside was shattered and broken.

But I didn’t have time to look because it was 4:43. I had to reprint and sign my forms and get them in the mail. I could have waited until the morning, but I was not about to sacrifice any part of another work day after this. Also, like The Blues Brothers, by this point I was on a somewhat irrational mission from God.

I dropped the box on the kitchen table, changed pants, put a flip-flop on my good foot, got my forms together again, found a stamp, crammed them in an envelope and rushed back out to the post office.

As I pulled up the mailbox was being emptied for the day. I made it!

But then a parking ticket patroller swooped in and took the spot where one can pull over and deposit mail. She could see me in her rearview mirror, and as I held up my hands like “What the heck!” she shrugged like “Sorry. A ticket must be given.”


So I parked in a red zone, and when I jumped out I yelled to her: “I’ll guess I’ll park here then!” Technically she was well within her right to ticket me. She did not.

I hopped/dragged my bloody foot the half block necessary, and handed my letter to the mail carrier.

Once back at the ranch I took a much needed and very hot shower, and then opened the smashed box. It contained a belated wedding present consisting of a handmade piece of pottery from some friends in St. Paul.

Mysteriously and amazingly the only piece of the pottery not shattered into tiny bits was painted with a likeness of Rob and me.

And look … we share a big, square, polka dot body!

Alta and Rob vessel.

I’m planning to have it mounted on a stand, like a fragment from antiquity in a museum!

I love it. When I opened the box however, I was not in the mood to look at the brightside. As I was standing there, Rob messaged to say he was on the way home, and I sent back something along the lines of:

“Hi Pooh.. guess what happened? I tried to go downtown on the train and file for my business and I thought I could still do work too and I sat in a spot that had been peed on on the sidewalk and I wore the wrong shoes and the Secretary of State employee took my forms and I can’t do what I needed to at the office anyway and I have a bloody foot so I can’t go for walk tonight or maybe ever again who knows and the meter maid is evil for no good reason and Kerry and Gordon sent us the nicest present and it got totally shattered in the mail and I have NO IDEA if my business name is available and I don’t know when they will tell me and at this rate I will never become a LLC and nothing can be done!!!!!!”

When he arrived home he had a box of assorterd-colors heel bandages and ointment, which made life totally worth living again.


AND! Just over one-and-a-half weeks later on Halloween…

My faith in the system, civil servants, the state of California, the Great Pumpkin and in the universe in general was restored.

I got a letter from the Secretary with a seal and everything which said I can have the name I want, and that my paperwork is being processed. So starting in January I’ll be a LLC, which is super cool.

Also I have my New Year’s resolution at the ready: No more ridiculous iPhone multitasking.

It could have been a much simpler process if I was not rushing and multitasking for no reason, or if I was the type of person who reads instructions thoroughly. And really it was just mailing off a letter, but it felt like the culmination of my fifteen-plus-year career so far. Literal blood, sweat and tears.

And it seems like this is how things so often move forward. Drag-hopping to the mailbox at 4:59. I got it done.