Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Little Guitar That Couldn't

Flip received a gift certificate to Guitar Center for Christmas. He already has several extremely nice guitars, both acoustic and electric, and decided to buy a Dobro.

The Dobro is an acoustic guitar with built-in resonator which is widely used in Delta blues. It is not finger-picked, but played with a replica Coricidin bottle over ones finger.

Guitar Center didn't have one in stock but agreed to order it from their catalog. Flip handed over his gift certificate and we waited for the guitar to arrive.

Apparently they couldn't locate one in any of their warehouses so they ordered it from the Gibson Company, which purchased Dobro from its inventors and now makes the guitar.

Every week, I called to see if there was an ETA, but there wasn't. Finally, eight weeks later, we were informed that Gibson no longer makes the Dobro.

Nobody does.

In a brilliant coup, feat of daring, I got them to cash out the gift certificate and refund the money because Flip doesn't need any other large ticket items. The gift would pay for end-to-end guitar strings from here to Uranus. He wants a Dobro.

We then ordered the guitar online from Musician's Friend, which in due time sent him a square neck model instead of the round neck we ordered. The square neck is played across ones lap like a xylophone, not held like a regular guitar.

We returned it and they agreed to transfer the payment to a round neck model and ship it to us. The young man in customer service said that their warehouse is automated so the mistake was not due to a stock clerk grabbing the wrong guitar. He said if it happened again, they would know that the stock is in the wrong place.

And now we know. The second guitar arrived today. It is also a square neck. According to their inventory they still have stock on the round neck model, which is not surprising since they can't find any to sell.

We packaged and returned the second guitar and came home to find a bill from Musician's Enemy Friend, although we paid by credit card before they sent the first one out.

So I called. The customer disservice guy insisted that it was not a bill, although it says "please remit" in several places and also, "Payment due by 3/16/08."

If it quacks like a duck, it's a bill. Or something.

He didn't even apologize for the inconvenience caused by their mistakes. There is definitely grace lacking in the world. And not enough Dobros.

Meanwhile, poltergeists have taken over my life.

My favorite hat is AWOL. Lost. Completely off-the-face-of-the-earth missing. Vanished. Unrecoverable.

It is not replaceable. It is Nepalese. Knitted of silk yarn. It is my comforting blankie of a hat. Whenever I feel ugly, I wear this hat and I don't anymore.

I have ransacked our home and our car.

Unlike the cat that came back although he was a goner, the hat has not come back.

It is clearly a goner.

But I just found a t-shirt in my closet which I have never seen before from the Dock Street Bar & Grill in Tacoma, Washington.


I have never been to Washington State. Ever. In my life.

But I bet my hat is there.

Drinking its little ass off.


RED MOJO said...

Wow, I love the tall ships!
I'm sorry about your hat, and the dolbro.
I know you wanted to find new clothes in your closet, but when you really do, that's just bazaar.
Check all your coat pockets?

Lex said...

Washington state Rocks. My soul is drawn to Seattle and Puget Sound in ways I can not rationally explain. If you hat is there, I envy her with every fiber of my being. Leave her be. She is in heaven.

As for the guitar. You have the patience of Job! I have no clue how you endure this kind of bullshit. I admire you. I really do.

thailandchani said...

I have no idea how you put up with it, either. That's the kind of stuff that turns me into a screeching shrew!

furiousBall said...

Oh i love dobros, I want to get one day when I grow up

Anonymous said...

Have you tried in the couch cushions? I find lots of things end up there. If your hat really is in Washington, I certainly do hope its getting drunk.

Good luck with the guitar situation. And you are correct, I doubt people understand decent customer service if it came up and bit those reps on the face. They can be crankier than their callers!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I guess I should have been more specific with my request.

I wanted new clothes, but not a skanky t-shirt from a bar.

The universe should know me better than that.


When you get up there, could you look for my hat?


What makes you think I'm not a screeching shrew?


I'm beginning to think the Dobro is a mythical beast.


I've looked everywhere. I never lose things so I suspect that Flip put it away someplace 12 feet off the ground.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks. Learnt a lot about guitars from the post. I have a theory that the Round necked Dubros actually arrived and sweet talked the hat into running away to Washington with him. You just can't trust round-necks.

Sienna said...

I have an inkling how frustrating-would be amusing-if-not-so-crazy....I've been trying to get some documents, I need them by Friday morning and it isn't looking good, but the sweet young people that are in La La Land and are responsible for sending me the said documents don't seem to "get it?"

My papers could be wearing your hat while playing the guitar...singing "Certificate of Currency got my deposit bond"

La la la huh?

Thankyou so much for the sweetest blog surprise, I was over the other night to thankyou and kept dropping out of blogger...this is just one of those weeks eh.


Anonymous said...

Doesn't seem fair. Any of it. While I like Flip a great deal -- and I know what he received was a gift certificate for Christmas -- but it seems sort of unbalanced that he is in the market for a Dobro and you lose a small, handmade hat.

So, are you suspecting something underhanded here? You think the hat and the shirt met through the internet and did a little life-swaping? Hmmm. The sad thing is that your hat thought it was going to Tacoma Washington in the trade but probably ended up in a tourist's closet in Toledo Ohio.

Christy said...

Poltergeists or gnomes? I swear there is a gnome in our house stealing my tweezers. Since we moved here my tweezers keep disappearing. I kid you not. Somewhere an evil gnome with perfect eyebrows is snickering.

As for the guitar chaos, I'm sorry for all the trouble you have been experiencing, that is quite frustrating.

seventh sister said...

Musicains Friend is owned or is an affiliate of Guitar Center. I hope you get your moneyback from them and that Flip can go to a swap meet or local store and find a dobro or resonator of some kind. I have a friend who found a National at a flea market. It sounds great.

seventh sister said...

I bet your hat is keeping company with my gloves. They are probably drinking margaritas and living it up. The will most likely turn up again in July when we don't need them.

Nick said...

Customer service eh? It's either brilliant and you get exactly what you wanted in 24 hours, or it's hopeless and there's endless red tape and mistakes and they keep you waiting for weeks. Trouble is when you sign up with someone, you don't know which one you're going to get.

Melanie said...

aw... poor little drinking hat. you will find it in a pocket of some coat you rarely wear, or behind a piece of furniture.

send us a picture of the dobro when you finally receive it.


Craze said...

What a run around with the guitar? Ack!! Hmm.. I wonder if the hat is in the land of missing socks.

Odat said...

I think the hat is playing the Dobros in Washinton State....

(actually, when I go nuts trying to find something...I just forget about it for a while...and it usually turns up.)


WNG said...

Who knew your hat was so adventurous...or such a lush? Hmmm.
Best advice is to forget about it - the minute you do it'll turn up.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I don't trust anyone at this point. That kind of thing happens when your very own hat betrays you.


You have La La Land there, too? They must be escaped Californians.

Somewhere in the galaxy, your papers, my hat and all the Dobros in the world are doing a circle jerk together, laughing.


What's fair got to do with it? Welcome to my life.

I draw the line at going to Toledo to find my hat. I am taking the position that it chose to leave me and I hope it's very, very sorry in that closet that probably reeks of Shalimar.


I know where my tweezers are - it's everything else I can't find. All my earrings migrate to parts unknown, and I can never find a pen when I need to write something.


If the third attempt to get what we ordered from Musician's Enemy fails, I will demand our money back.

I'm sure there are a lot more musical instruments at flea markets in Austin than there are here, though.


I think calling it Customer "Service" is a dire misnomer.


The photo on my post is what it looks like. If my memory doesn't fail me.


Yes, it's probably in Socksucker Land.


In the rain. It always rains in Washington State, I'm told.

Who knew my little cap was so tricky? I guess it's a hat trick.


I seem to have no choice but to follow your advice and Odat's.

I wonder if hats get hangovers.

meggie said...

Bizarre indeed!
We say 'the Others' take things in our house. They love to wait until you have ransacked the house, then they usually lay the item in the middle of the table, or somewhere equally obvious.
I dont get the Tshirt? Do you think some weird thief left it in payment for the hat??

As to the Guitar nonsense... GRRRRR!
I hope Flip gets his Dobro, with round neck. E-Bay?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


"The Others," huh? Well, I guess now we know where they go when they get tired of playing tricks at your house.

I rather think that if a thief broke in here, there would be more interesting things to steal than my hat. But if one did, then the t-shirt is serious underpayment.

Molly said...

Do you have a squatter, squatting in the nether regions of your closet, or did you in the past? He probably just forgot to take his shirt with him when he left. Looked around ,couldn't find it, so took your hat/blankey instead....
Reading your blog lifts my spirits every time!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


No squatter that I know of. This is a small place. I would know.

The only non-supernatural explanation is that Flip neatened up as he is wont to do and put my hat away several feet over my head in a most illogical place that may be discovered when we move, if ever.

Open Grove Claudia said...

ARG! I hate that kind of thing. I get it a lot with tech support. I ask a good question, they respond: "we didn't even look at your account but here's the detail instructions that are on our website."


I should join your hat.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Customer Disservice is alive and well.

We're still waiting for Round Three to begin, the arrival of the third guitar which may or may not be what we ordered.


Angela said...

Damn those Mercury retrogrades! I hope all has been found, including the guitar. I wish I could remember the name of the website Jon loves. I'll have to ask him, but he's been fairly happy with the guitars he's found on ebay. Any chance of finding a dobros there?

And boo, hiss on the "it's not a bill" nonsense.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It's now Feb. 29th and we're still waiting for the third guitar to arrive. If they send us the wrong one again, we'll demand our money back and go elsewhere.

There are several Dobros on eBay, but Flip thinks it's risky. All his other guitars came from guitar stores. I'm glad it worked out for Jon, though.