Filing a formal complaint

I've been talking the talk about public transit, and I do prefer it, but the bus by my house only comes twice an hour, and it goes nowhere I want to go. There are more frequent buses a ten-minute walk from home, and with a twenty-minute walk there's a fast, frequent bus that I rely on.

June 19, 2022

But c'mon, if you know me, you know that I don't want to walk for ten or twenty minutes. When I take those buses, I drive to the bus stop and park at the side of the road.

Not this weekend, though. My car won't start. Hope it's a cheap problem to fix. A new battery would be nice.

Anyway, now I'm actually walking the transit walk. I walked twenty minutes this morning to take a bus to breakfast, walked twenty minutes back from breakfast, then walked ten minutes to catch a bus to the library. So far my legs, knees, and ankles are holding up OK, and I'll bet I fall asleep quicker than usual tonight.

It's further impetus to hurry up and move, though. I want to live someplace where I don't have to commute to the bus stop.

Walking with my empty bags from the bus stop to the bodega, a dead rat blocked my way on the sidewalk, alongside the Ling's Produce building, and just twenty feet from the bodega's entrance.

Rats are more interesting dead than alive, so I paused and gave it a good look. It was freshly dead, as no bugs were eating it, only a few flies crawling on its fur.

Nice fur, too. It looked warm and soft, but I didn't touch it. Anyway, you'd need a hundred or so dead rats to make a rat's fur jacket, and a sewing machine and the willingness to dissect rats, and none of that's me.

I was alone, of course. Nobody in my life would be in that neighborhood, four whole blocks from civilization, if you define civilization as a nationally-known chain store.

Being alone, there was no-one to have a conversation with about the rat, so I chatted at the rat itself. "Hello, rat," I said. "Is it a bad sign that you're lying there dead, directly outside the bodega where I'm about to buy celery and carrots and maybe some Japanese candy?"

Pondering my question, I noticed that the rat had no visible injuries. It had probably been poisoned, which answered my question, I think.

Ling's is in a building that's at least 50 years old, and it's probably been a produce store all that time. How could they not have rats? What's pertinent, seems to me, is that they apparently use rat poison to keep the problem under control. A dead rat on the sidewalk outside the store means that rat's not alive inside the store, so it's actually proof of sanitary conditions inside.

"I'm glad we had this conversation, Doug," the dead rat said to me in my imagination. And inside the bodega, Ling's had excellent baby cucumbers at a very good price. I bought two pounds, along with the celery and carrots and Japanese candy.

Bartell Drugs has several locations around Seattle, and it's been here for a long, long time. Wikipedia says it was founded in 1890, by George H. Bartell Sr.

I've always liked Bartell. They earned my loyalty when I was a little kid, because they had a soda fountain, just like you see in old movies, and my oh my, they made marvelous root beer floats. Long after the soda fountains were gone, Bartell was where I got my prescriptions filled, where I drug-store-shopped until leaving Seattle in the 1990s. It was family-owned, with fair prices and friendly staff. "Washington's own drugstores," brags the sign in front of every Bartell.

Having recently moved back to Seattle, I walked into a Bartell Drugs for the first time in many years a few weeks ago, and it seemed very un-Bartell. The shelves were half-empty, the store felt dirty, the employees were grumpy, there was a huge line-up of people waiting for service at the pharmacy — and all this was at a Bartell in an upscale neighborhood.

When I later visited a Bartell closer to home, in a loud, lousy neighborhood, it was almost as bad. Worse than Walgreens, definitely.

On a third visit to a different but just as disastrous Bartell, I knew it wasn't Bartell any longer.

And sure enough, it's not. According to Wikipedia again, Bartell hired its first non-family CEO in 2015, and by 2020 the company had been sold to Rite Aid. That's why Bartell Drugs now sucks. The signs in front of every store still say "Washington's own drugstores," but since they're now owned by Rite-Aid, it strikes me as false advertising.

On a whim and because the state Attorney General's office made it easy online, I've filed a formal complaint regarding this matter, which might be fun.

I never gave it any real thought, but I assumed that when I went to a library and certain books were prominently displayed — on a tabletop, or cover-out on a shelf instead of spine-out — it meant that a staffer had read the book, and was recommending it.

My internet access is at several different branches of the public library, and I've noticed that the same books are prominently displayed at every branch. Trick Mirror, by Jia Tolentino, for example, has a distinctive mirror-image cover, and without looking for it I've seen that cover at five different branches in the past two weeks. I don't think there's a branch where I haven't seen that book.

Now I'm wondering if there's a kickback involved. Just more corruption from Big Library. Perhaps I should file another complaint with the Attorney General's office.

And now, the news you need, whether you know it or not… 

♦ ♦ ♦

This heavily-trafficked south Seattle bridge can't be repaired, without a company's permission 

♦ ♦ ♦  

Juneteenth ice cream, and watermelon salad:
Companies keep getting holiday wrong 

♦ ♦ ♦   

US activists stay in treehouses to block $90m "Cop City" 

♦ ♦ ♦    

Number of Americans who believe in God is at its lowest since at least 1944 

So don't tell me there's never good news among the news here!

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Mass frog burial baffles experts at iron age site near Cambridge 

♦ ♦ ♦   

Uvalde Police try to prevent the release of "embarrassing" records 

♦ ♦ ♦   

A Green Bay Packers-style approach to rescue Colorado newspaper 

♦ ♦ ♦   

CNN's new boss tells staff not to say "Big Lie" when referring to Trump's Big Lie 

♦ ♦ ♦   

One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...

♦ ♦ ♦

The End
Philip Baker Hall
Duncan Hannah
Dorothy E Smith

Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...


  1. I thought Philip Baker Hall was terrific in Hard Eight. He was actually terrific in just about everything he was in: one of those actors who makes all the actors around him better. He had a good time in Seinfeld, and that's how Boomers know him, but the movies were his forte. His underacting in Hard Eight beat the hell out of the Seinfeld appearance, even though he stole the show in Seinfeld.


    1. Stealing the show is what he did, and he did it without even being hammy or cheesy or ham and cheesy. PBH could underplay a role and still command the screen.

      I wasn't even all that wild about Magnolia, which everyone says was great, but he was sure great in it. And Boogie Nights. Yeah, and Hard Eight and Seinfeld.

  2. Just about nobody gets Juneteenth right. It's the day word first reached Texas that slaves should be freed, a couple years after the Emancipation Proclamation. If African Americans want to use the date to celebrate the abolition of slavery, that's fine with me. If Walmart wants to use it to bring more Black people in to shop, that's not so fine.


    1. All the libraries were closed for Juneteenth, so yesterday's posts were fueled by coffee shop latte.

      Couple days before Juneteenth, a guy at the library -- a black guy at the library -- was complaining about the sign that said the building would be locked and closed on Sunday.

      He said something like, "Bunch of lazy ass white people getting a day off with pay, while black people don't get shit." I wouldn't have said it so loud or quite so plain, but I couldn't and didn't argue, and the white librarian shrugged politely.

      There must be some black librarians, but then and now I can't remember the last time I saw one.

      It *is* one of the few holidays that seems worth celebrating to me. Some religious dude's birthday? Veterans' Day? Columbus Day? Nope nope and nope, but I kinda like what Juneteenth implies.

  3. Attorney General's OfficeJune 28, 2022 at 2:01 PM

    Thank you for contacting the Consumer Protection Division of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. Consumer complaints provide valuable information that our office uses to identify patterns of unfair or deceptive practices that may warrant enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act.

    The complaint you submitted to our office regarding Bartell Drugs was reviewed and determined to be appropriate for the informal complaint resolution services offered by our Consumer Resource Center. This is an informal, voluntary process. Our office acts as a neutral party to facilitate communication between consumers and businesses to assist in resolving the complaint. We are prohibited by Washington State law from providing legal advice or representing either party.

    The following information describes our informal complaint resolution process:

    Informal Complaint Resolution Process:

    The process takes approximately four to six weeks to complete. A copy of your complaint was sent to the business(es) with a request to provide our office with a response within 21 calendar days. If a response is received, you will be notified and a copy of the response will be provided to you. If our office has not received a response from the business(es) within 14 calendar days, a courtesy reminder will be sent to the business(es) reminding them that their response is due within the next 7 calendar days. If the business(es) do not respond to our request, our office cannot compel the business(es) to respond.

    If the business(es) do not respond, or your complaint is not resolved through our informal complaint resolution service, your complaint will be closed. However, you will be notified of additional options and resources that may be available to assist you in the event you wish to pursue the matter further.

    If you contact our office regarding your complaint, please reference the assigned complaint number referenced above.

    We hope this information is helpful. If you have questions or would like to submit additional information regarding this complaint, our email address is ██████████.

    Consumer Services Unit Supervisor
    Consumer Protection Division

    1. "If a response is received..."

      My expectation is that no response will be received, since it's not required. And of course if Bartell *does* respond, it'll be 100% piffle.

    2. I wasn't sure you had actually filed a complaint but definietly. That's funny because their response is so form letter.

    3. Yup, filed a complaint, but I expect this reply is the last I'll hear about it.


The site's software sometimes swallows comments. For less frustration, send an email and I'll post it as a comment.