Chinese Robocalls Indignantly Revisited

Recently I wrote this post about my frustrations about not only getting robocalls on my phone, but getting them in Mandarin, a language I do not speak. Beyond irritating. After that post, though, a friend sent me this article from NPR that addresses these calls specifically.

Whereas I was irritated before, now I’m outraged. Nothing has changed for me personally. I’m still getting the stupid calls. I’m still blocking them. But now I know the heinous purpose behind those calls, and it has triggered my Capricornian desire to protect others from all things unjust in this world.

These Chinese scammers are not simply trying to sell me something. No. They’re hoping I’m a Chinese immigrant who is understandably nervous about the human rights violations that China is so well known for. These robocalls tell them that this call is from their embassy, and that they’re suspected of committing some crime or other, and that the way to resolve this issue is by sending money to this bank in Hong Kong.

It’s amazing that people still fall for this stuff in this day and age, but imagine what it must be like for these immigrants, who most likely still have family back in China. They don’t want trouble for anyone. According to this article, immigrants have paid out at least 2.5 million dollars since December.

That’s a highly lucrative scam, so rest assured, it’s not going to go away any time soon. It breaks my heart that so many people who have struggled to come to America are now losing their life savings in an effort to stay here. Con artists tend to prey on the most vulnerable among us.

I really don’t understand psychopaths. They are completely devoid of empathy, so do they have any problem at all looking in the mirror after devastating others? Nope. They’re just fine. It makes me sick. (If you are one of these people and you’re reading this, you are twisted and evil and I hope that karma rolls over you like a crosstown bus.)

All I can do is shake my head and do my best to spread the word. I hope you will, too. Meanwhile, here are some things you should do to avoid scammers in general.

  • If you don’t recognize a phone number, don’t answer your phone. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message.

  • If you do answer the phone and hear an automated voice, hang up immediately. If a company or individual really needs to speak to you, they won’t use a recording. If they do, whatever they have to say isn’t that important.

  • Do not give out personal information over the phone, especially your bank account number, your credit card number, or your social security number.

  • I have just downloaded an app to my phone called YouMail. It’s free, unless you upgrade for even more awesome features. It blocks many robocalls, and will even make them think your number is out of service so they don’t sell it on to the next scammer. It also provides you with personalized voice mail, auto-reply when you’re out of town or unavailable, conference calling, and reverse phone lookup. All for free. That seems like a pretty good deal to me. If it turns out to not work, I’ll be sure and let you know right here.

I hope you’ll all take a moment to have a conversation about scammers with the more vulnerable among us: the less tech-savvy, the very old, the very young, or the easily manipulated. This evil must end.


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Chinese Robocalls

The phone rings. It’s an unrecognized number, but it’s local, so I kind of feel like I have to pick up. And there it is again. An automated voice, speaking in Mandarin.

I don’t speak Mandarin, or any other Eastern tongue, if the truth be told. I suspect someone is trying to sell me something. I’ll never know.

I wouldn’t even know what number to press to speak to a human being and get taken off this fresh hell of a call list. And if I let it go to voice mail, I’d still have to listen to it eventually. So I simply hang up and block the number.

But tomorrow, someone else will call from another number and subject me to the same torture. This has been going on for months. My block list must be a half mile long.

This begs the question: How in the name of all that’s holy did I get on a call list for Chinese spam? What did I do to deserve this? Have I squashed too many spiders in my lifetime or something?

I kind of feel sorry for the random people who are doing these automated calls. They probably got sold a bogus phone list. They were most likely told they’d get a portion of each sale. But the majority of the people they call don’t speak the language, so they get no sales, while the person who sold them the list profits nicely.

It would be just my luck if it were someone trying to tell me where to pick up my lottery winnings. Meanwhile, here I am gritting my teeth, blocking the number, and praying that someday this particular torture comes to a merciful end.


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A Telephonic Cultural Shift

When I was little, I went through a period where I’d try to listen in on my big sisters’ conversations on the upstairs telephone. “I can hear you breathing, you little brat! Hang up that phone!”

What can I say? The teen-aged world intrigued me. Not that I learned much from it, if I’m honest.

I have no idea why I was thinking about that today, but from there I remembered how I used to run across the house to pick up the phone when it rang, often shouting “I’m coming! I’m coming!” as if the caller could hear. In those days before cordless phones or answering machines, I never wanted to miss a call, even if it meant twisting my ankle.

Phone calls used to seem so important to me. Now, in this day of cell phones and private messages and all forms of social media, I rarely pick up the phone when it rings. I’m not even sure if my voice mail is set up correctly. And 90 percent of my phone calls are spam. My friends have so many other ways of contacting me that I know that if it’s truly important, they’ll do so.

I no longer heed the siren song of my phone, especially when I’m driving or napping. I just can’t be bothered, unless the caller ID is someone close. 40 years ago, I’d have considered that unspeakably rude. Now it’s status quo.

Funny how culture shifts over time, isn’t it?

Vintage Rotary Phone

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Falling Down the Customer Service Rabbit Hole

What follows are the highlights of an online conversation I had with Tracfone Wireless. For reference, “You” is me, and anything italicized is my inner dialogue. (Because I’d never be quite so rude as to say these things out loud.) Items in bold are a synopsis of things I left out so as not to torture you as much as I was being tortured. Some information has been changed to protect my privacy.

This conversation took well over an hour, and at the end it’s a pure miracle I had any hair left in my head at all, such was my level of frustration.

Chat Transcript

  : Thank you for visiting Tracfone today. How may I help you?

Wendy : Thank you for visiting TracFone Wireless.

Redundant, but okay…


Wendy : Hi Barbara. How may I assist you?

You : Hi Wendy. I have been trying to port my phone number from Tracfone to Verizon for two weeks. They said it should only take two days. Can you tell me what the hold up is?

Wendy : I’m sorry to hear that. Please allow me a moment to look into this.

You : Thank you.

Wendy : You are welcome.

Wendy : I did not find any record about a port out request. Have you contacted the new service provider to investigate the status of your request?

You : Yes. They claim they’ve placed the request twice.

Wendy : I will need to contact our Portability department for assistance. One moment, please.

Wendy : We will have to transfer you to a portability specialist to further assist you with your port request.

Ram : Thank you for choosing TracFone Wireless as your service provider.

Ram : Thank you for visiting TracFone Wireless.

Again, redundant. But again, okay.


Ram : Hi Barbara. Allow me a moment to review your previous chat conversation.

You : Hi Ram. Thank you.

Ram : You’re welcome. One moment, please.

Ram : Are we working on the phone number that ends with 1234.

You : yes

Ram : Alright. Do you have the phone with you?

You : I have both the 1234 phone and the one I want to port it to. Both are with me.

Ram : Okay. Phone is already active.

You : Yes. They gave me a temporary number.

Ram : What is the last four number of the IMEI of the new phone?

You : xxxx

Ram : Thank you. What is your security PIN?

You : yyyy

Ram : That is not what we have here.

You : zzzz maybe? You are talking about for my Verizon phone?

Ram : No. Your security PIN from us.

You : wwww?

Ram : Yes.

You : 🙂

Ram : We don’t have records on the new IMEI number.

You : Do you have a record of any portability request?

Ram : Yes.

(You’ll see below that that’s in direct contradiction to what he’ll say later.)

You : Hmmm. Are the last 4 digits aaaa?

Ram : No.

You : When you asked for my IMEI number originally, were you asking for my TRACFONE IMEI, or the one it should be ported to?

You : My current tracfone IMEI is xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

You : I want it ported to qqqqqqqqqqqq.

Ram : Yes.

Ram : I have that.

You : The Main phone on the verizon account ends in tttt, but we do NOT want my number ported to that phone. He wants to keep his number.

Ram : The new phone is this a tracfone as well.

You : The new phone is not a tracfone. Tracfones are incompatible with Verizon, apparently, so I had to buy a new one.

Ram : I see.

Ram : Let me check this one.

Ram : Do you still have this old phone?

I already told you that.


You : yes

Ram : The one that ends with 4321? Where did you get the new phone?

You : From Verizon.  And yes, I do have the one ending in 4321 still.

You : I’d like to NOT have it anymore… but I’m waiting for you guys to port.

Ram : Yes.

Ram : That is the reason I was not able to access the new phone.

You : Ah. So what do I have to do?

Ram : Are you leaving us?



You : Yes

Ram : You are porting out from us.



You : Yes.

Ram : If that is the case you need to call your new provider what you want.

You : They made their first request to you TWO WEEKS AGO. They repeated their request a week ago.

Ram : We did not received them.

You : I am not sure what the problem is. I just want my phone number ported from my Tracfone to my Verizon phone. I can’t believe how hard this is. Is there any number they can call directly and speak to a human being at Tracfone? Because otherwise they’ll just repeat their fruitless request a third time.

Ram : I am telling you, we did not received a request.

Ram : If that is the case, then yes.



You : So tell me a way they can call directly to someone who can fix this. Please.

Ram : All they need to do is send a port out request.

You : And they have told me they have, twice.  So I don’t know where the disconnect is. But if their human could talk to your human, maybe it could be resolved.

Ram : I apologize for any inconvenience you have experienced due to this issue.

You : I know this is not your fault, Ram. I’m not blaming you. But please understand my frustration. Two weeks. Two different stories.  And no one talking to anyone directly.

Ram : I don’t see any request from your old provider.

We’ve established that.


Ram : We are working on the phone number that ends with 1234?

For God’s SAKE!!!!!


You : Yes. That’s my old tracfone number. And they would be my NEW provider, not my old one. But if their requests are going to the wrong place, I need a direct number they can call.

You : My verizon temporary number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. That’s the phone I want my 1234 number ported to.

Ram : We can’t open your that temporary number, that is not with us.

I know that.


Ram : Just informed them that I mentioned that we did not received a request.

Ram : Not once.

You : Who did you inform?

Ram : You.



You : Yes, you did. What I am saying is that on THEIR end, THEY think they’ve put in the request twice. Apparently it’s not getting to you. Therefore THEY need a direct phone number to call at Tracfone, so that THEY can call YOU GUYS and get this straightened out. Because clearly they are sending their requests to the wrong place.

Ram : Okay. This is our portability hotline number 18003272077.

Was that so freakin’ hard?


You : Thank you Ram.

Ram : You’re welcome.

Ram : Is there anything else that I can assist you with?

You : That’s quite enough. Thanks.

Ram : You’re welcome.

Ram : Thank you for chatting with TracFone Wireless.

Give me strength.


After that, I spoke again with Verizon.

Then I had a pint of ice cream in one sitting.

The situation wasn’t resolved for another three days, and required 3 more phone conversations.


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Gratitude Alarm

I don’t have a smart phone. In fact, my phone is just about as stupid as they come in this modern world. But hey, it only costs me about 5 bucks a month, so as far as I’m concerned, that makes me pretty darned smart.

Living in this state of self-imposed technological deprivation, I know nothing about apps. There may already be an app for this, but if not, there really should be. I would call this app the “gratitude alarm”. It would instruct your phone to set off a gentle alarm at random, completely unanticipated times throughout your day. The alarm would remind you to stop what you’re doing and look about you, and really appreciate your place in the now.

Too often, we forget to do this. Sometimes you need to just enjoy the sensation of the sun on your face. Don’t take your current experience for granted. Be grateful for the people you are having lunch with, and for the food on your plate. Embrace the experience of that crowded subway, as it’s taking you where you want to go. Appreciate the fact that you have a job when so many others do not. Admire that flowering “weed” that you might have otherwise overlooked.

I suspect that if people were to use this app for just a few weeks, they’d see a shift in their attitude for the better. After a while, the app would no longer be needed. An attitude of gratitude can become a delightful habit if you let it.

For now, pretend this blog post is your alarm. Stop right now. Look around. Be grateful.


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Dawn Breaks

I pick up the phone. “Hello?” Long pause. I hear a series of beep, boop, boops, but no voice. I figure it’s someone butt dialing me, so I hang up and don’t give it any further thought. If it’s important, they’ll call back.

But this time he did call back right away. I heard an oily male voice whisper, “I want to f*** you.”

One thing you need to know about me is that I’m not very quick on the uptake. Rapid fire retorts tend to elude me. So I said, “Uh, I think you have the wrong number,” and I hung up.

Believe me, I can think of several snappy comebacks now. Especially since I got three more beep boop calls from him after that. That’s when it finally hit me. This person has been calling me for over a year. Fortunately it’s always been beep boopy in nature, not slimy comments, so I didn’t make the connection.

So… wow. I was supposed to be feeling harassed and intimidated for a whole year. Sorry dude. It never occurred to me. I’ve been too busy having a life to connect those particular dots.

That means you fall into the same category for me as the Doobie Brothers and knot holes. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

The other day I was listening to a song by the Doobie Brothers, and the significance of their name suddenly dawned on me. Doobie as in pot. I guess I’d been walking around my whole life just sort of vaguely assuming that someone’s last name was Doobie. That’s hysterical.

I tend to look at life through a long lens. The thing I’m focused on is sharp and clear. All the other details around me are a bit fuzzy.

Case in point, I’m sitting on the toilet at my sister’s cabin and I’m lost in thought. (Toilets do that to me for some reason.) Suddenly I look up at the wall, which is beautifully polished wood paneling, and I notice the knot holes. I’ve always thought knot holes were kind of cool. But that day, in my late 40’s, I realized that knot holes are where the tree branches grow out of the trunk of the tree. One of those head slap moments when a puzzle piece falls into place. Hello!

I really do pride myself on my intelligence. It’s my focus that needs a little work.

So, he called again. This time he told me my mortgage payment was overdue. Which is very interesting, since I don’t have a mortgage. I could tell by his voice that he’s a pimply-faced adolescent. He also forgot to block his number this time, and it was a Jamaica area code. So not a physical threat. Just a dumb ass little punk.

I have to admit I kind of lost it. “Are you f&%#*@^ KIDDING me? It’s 5 a.m!!!! Get a life!” I’m sure this did nothing but encourage him. Clearly if this is all he has to do on a Saturday, he’s desperate for attention. I’m going to let my machine answer the phone from now on.


But I Don’t WANT the Ball in My Court!

One of the things I love most about working on a drawbridge is that usually you have peace and quiet. You plan your day, and for the most part all your ducks remain in an orderly little row. This appeals to my Capricornian sense of organization and my general disdain for hubbub.

Last week, on the other hand, was hellish.

No sooner had I walked in the door when the phone rang. It was someone who barely spoke English, and he was asking for Sebastian. “There’s no one here by that name,” I said politely. He hung up. Five minutes later, a girl called for Sebastian. Same story. Then another guy. I was starting to get irritated.

Finally, after about the 15th call, I got someone who spoke sufficient English to tell me that Sebastian was the director of a tennis club, and that this was the number posted on the contact page of his website. After a quick search on Google, I discovered that sure enough, there was our number in all its glory, amongst the tennis graphics.

Oh, and did I mention there was a tennis tournament coming up? No? Well, there was a tennis tournament coming up, and apparently this required a great deal of communication of the telephonic type.

After about the 30th call, I was finally able to track down their real number, and it turned out that they had gotten one digit wrong on the website. I called them and explained the situation, and they didn’t seem particularly worried about it. They said their computer guy would fix it, but he wouldn’t be back in for a few days.

Seriously? “You guys are missing out on a lot of business,” I said.

By day two and the 50th call, I had come up with a strategy. If the person on the other end of the line spoke English I’d explain the situation, give him or her the correct number, and beg that person to point out that the website needs fixing. I was hoping that if they got even half as pestered as I had, they’d be moved to act.

It took three days. Three days in which I was reminded why I never want an office job again. Three days in which I had more human contact at work than I’d had in the past decade. Three days in which I was sorely tempted to pull out my hair by the handfuls.

Now if I even see so much as a tennis ball I’ll be tempted to take a Xanax.


Our Compact World

I was looking at my new camera case just now. It practically fits in the palm of my hand. When I think of the 7 pound photographic albatross with its 6 inch telephoto lens that I used to lug around on every vacation, I get a sympathy neck ache. When I think of the hundreds of dollars I’d spend developing photos, most of which were not worth saving, I get a wallet ache. When I look at the boxes and boxes of albums I still lug around, I sigh. Someday I’ll scan them. I swear I will.

While packing for this recent move I came across all sorts of remnants of our super-sized world. Record albums. (And I don’t even own a record player anymore.) A rotary phone. Big glasses. DVDs and their players. My first cell phone, which was the size of your average brick. The only thing that doesn’t seem to be following this trend toward the miniscule is my waistline. People who excavate our nation’s landfills will think we descended from giants.

Everything is smaller now, and it couldn’t have come a moment too soon. With our rampant overpopulation and our seemingly endless desire to produce more garbage, we need all the space we can get.

big cell phone

[Image credit:]

Incompetence, Thy Name is AT&T

You know, you’d think I’d have learned after writing How to Give Horrible Customer Service, but no. In an area of 1 million people (Jacksonville, Florida) the administration in its infinite wisdom has chosen to only allow two major competitors for our unlimited internet market: AT&T and Comcast.

Comcast service is slow as molasses during peak hours, drops you off line constantly, and while it gives a great introductory rate at first, that price basically triples after the first year. AT&T, on the other hand, “only” doubles its price after the first year. How generous. But for that privilege you have to put up with the worst customer service in the history of mankind. Gee, who to choose?

So despite my horrendous experiences with AT&T in the past, I held my nose and dove back into the vast ocean of ineptitude that is their indifferent and smug bureaucracy. Come with me, dear reader, and hold my hand as I am tossed about on their stormy sea of stupidity. I need you, because when all was said and done, I was forced to dwell on a desert island of internetlessness for seven, count ‘em, seven days. Without you, I’d be forced to talk to a soccer ball like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.

Monday, June 30th, 2014

1:20 pm: I receive the following text message: “AT&T Free Msg: U-verse internet active after 8pm 07-01. See self install guide.”

8 pm? When I ordered this service I told them that I’d no longer have access to internet as of midnight today at my old address, so I was hoping to have it with them on 7/1 so I could stay connected. Now I’ll have to go a whole day without internet? Sigh. Okay, whatever. It’s only a day. Let’s take a look at the self install guide. They say it’s really easy. All you need is a phone jack. It doesn’t even need to be active.

I’m standing in the middle of my new rental place, up to my ears in unpacked boxes and chaos, and it occurs to me… hold on… I haven’t seen a phone jack anywhere. I wander from room to room, my heart sinking. Nope. No phone jack. I go outside. No phone box. And no lines leading to the house from the telephone pole. Seriously? I’ve chosen the one house in the free world with no telephone access?

I call AT&T and tell them I can’t do the self install after  all. There are no phone lines whatsoever. They say they’ll send a tech out. Their earliest appointment is the morning of July 2nd. I grit my teeth and say, “Fine, I’ll take it.”

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

10:43 am: After being up all night because I work graveyard shifts, I am woken up by the following text message: “AT&T U-verse Free Confirmation: Repair scheduled for 07-02 between 8am-Noon.” It then urges me to visit their website for status changes. If I had the ability to visit their website, I wouldn’t be in this fix. And I already knew that the tech was coming tomorrow. They told me that on the phone. So they knew I knew, too. Whatever. Communication is good, I suppose.

I can’t imagine how I would have gone through this week if I had regular working hours. Because as you will see, it took no fewer than FIVE visits before they actually got their act together and provided me with the service that they had absolutely no problem taking my money for. If I had had to stay home from work each time, I’d have been in deep trouble.

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

9 am the tech arrives, under the mistaken impression that this is going to be a simple phone jack install. I disabuse him of that notion. He confirms what I’ve been saying all along to everyone, that there is no phone line leading to this house at all, and this is to be a complete install. He talks about placing a cable underground from the pole. I like this idea. No sense in having ugly wires going willy-nilly in your yard if not necessary. I go inside and let him get to work.

45 minutes later I peek out and he’s standing next to his truck, talking on his cell phone. I go out and ask how things are going. He tells me there is a slight problem. There is no signal coming to the telephone pole, so even if he installed everything, it wouldn’t work. So before he can get started, he needs to call an INR tech (whatever that is) to come out and sort out the signal. So he’s closing out his repair ticket, ordering one for the INR tech, and once that guy is done he will come right back out and finish what he, uh… never really started. Not to worry, though, once that line is sorted out, it will only take him about 20 minutes to do his part, and I’ll have internet in no time.

1 pm, the INR tech arrives. Much fiddle farting around and doing things that look complicated. I leave him to his work. At around 2:30, I see he’s on his cell phone. Sigh. I go out for a status update, and he tells me he’s almost done here, and then the other guy can come back. I ask him to knock on my door before he leaves and give me an estimated time of arrival. He says he’ll do so.

3:15 pm I look out and the guy is gone. Oh well, I figure the other guy is on his way. But he’s not there by 6 pm, and I resign myself to the fact that he must be coming in the morning. I try to get some sleep but I’m so irritated, I get 4 hours of sleep before working all night.

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

I get home from work about 8:20 am, and there’s no AT&T truck out front. Great. Just great. Well, it’s not like these guys are the souls of efficiency. I figure I’ll give them an hour.

9:10 am: I receive the following text message: “AT&T Free Msg: Sorry we were unable to complete your U-verse repair. Still trouble? Please visit or call 888-485-3310.”

Still trouble? What the hell do you think? I have no phone line! So I call them. I explain everything that has transpired to date. They say they will send someone out. But the next available appointment is tomorrow. Are you kidding me? The guy told me he’d be right back! Sorry, ma’am. That’s the next available appointment. Apparently the INR tech didn’t submit a ticket for the first guy, and the first guy just dropped me like a hot rock.

Fine. I hang up and sleep the fitful sleep of the supremely irritated. Then at 10:39 am, I’m awoken by the following text message: “AT&T Free Msg: Your U-verse repair appt time has changed. Your tech will arrive 07/04 btwn 8 am- Noon.” Again with the visiting of the website for status changes.

Changed? What was it before? For crying out loud. Well, at least I’ll have internet tomorrow. And the office person swears to me that they do work tomorrow, even though it’s a holiday.

Friday, July 4th, 2014

The guy arrives relatively promptly and asks to come in and check it out. I tell them there’s nothing to see. There’s no phone jack, no phone line to the house. Nothing. He is stunned. He seems to be under the impression that he was just coming out to help an idiot customer do her simple self install.

He tells me that he’ll have to do a full install (I know) and that there will, of course, be a fee (We’ll just see about that), but no, he will be doing an above ground cable, not a buried one (Whatever it takes).

But this time I don’t go about my business and let him work in private. I’ve learned. So I sit on my front stoop and watch the show. He goes over to the telephone pole. He opens a container and pulls out a mass of tangled cables that looks like an electric tumbleweed from hell. He takes a photograph with his cell phone and makes a call. He’s on the phone for a long, long time.

He comes over to me and tells me that the INR tech yesterday did not fix the signal problem. Well, actually, he may have, but since he didn’t label which of the 5 cables in that mass of 1,500 cables belongs to my house, he has no way of determining which ones to use. So he has scheduled another INR tech to come out to the pole down the block and rewire it entirely. Once that’s done, he’ll come back and set me up.

I say, “You don’t understand. It’s been 4 days. You’re the third person that has reassured me. I still don’t have internet. People probably think I’ve died. I’m afraid that if you leave here, I’m going to be back to square one.” I seriously consider holding the guy hostage.

He tells me not to worry. He says he’s working tomorrow, and that his boss who he was just on the phone with is working tomorrow, too. They will take care of it. He will come back. He leaves. It occurs to me that I can’t even see down the block, so I’ll have no idea when/if the INR tech comes and does his part. And one wonders why I have abandonment issues.

I fall into such a tense and uncomfortable sleep that when I wake up I can no longer raise my left arm without excruciating pain. I work all night like that. Every time I try to move my arm I’m reminded of what a pain this situation has turned out to be

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

I get home at 8:45 am, and again, there is no one out front. I call the phone number and get another indifferent employee. I explain the situation, and she tells me that the INR tech who came out on the second fixed the telephone pole problem, and I explain to her that no, he did not, and they had to send a second one out. She seems quite confused. I tell her in any case, no one has been out here since, it’s been 5 days and 4 techs and yet there is no progress. She says she’ll look into it and call me back.

I want to take a pain pill for my arm, but I’m loathe to do so because I may miss the call. So I toss and turn for 2 hours in considerable discomfort until the phone rings around 10:30 am. She tells me that it appears that the ticket got “lost in the system”. She tells me that she’s place another. She tells me that they work until 8 pm today, and that they also work on Sundays, so someone will be out soon.

5 pm. I call for a status update. Once again I am treated as if this is the first anyone has heard of this situation, and after leaving me on hold for a half hour on my pay by the minute phone, they schedule a technician to come between 4 and 8 pm on Monday. I have to work at that time. My head explodes and I ask to speak to a supervisor. She says that she will have one call me back after hearing me cry tears of utter frustration.

5:50 pm I receive a text. “AT&T U-verse Free Confirmation: Repair scheduled for 07/07 between 4 pm – 8 pm.”

The supervisor never bothers to call back, which tells you all you need to know about AT&T’s utter indifference to customer satisfaction. I am forced to beg my irritated supervisor for Monday off so I can be there when and if someone actually decides to show up and do something.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A brand new tech arrives at 4pm. He has to be brought up to speed, because God knows his company didn’t tell him what was going on. I feel subdued, apathetic and devoid of even an ounce of fight, which is probably just how AT&T wants its customers.  But the good news is that this guy, bless him, was able to complete the job, and it only took 2 ½ hours. If I had had the strength to pucker, I’d have kissed him.

So to recap, 7 days with an average of 4 hours of sleep, 1 missed day of work, 5 techs (3 of whom looked me straight in the eye and made promises they had absolutely no intention of keeping), and several rude phone calls later, I’m finally back on line. And I get to pay them an installation fee for the hell they just put me through. They ought to be paying me.

Matter of fact, once I’ve regained my strength, I may try to fight that bill. Yeah. What’s the worst that could happen?


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Obsolete Plot Twists

I was watching an old suspense movie the other day for lack of anything more appealing to do, and I had to laugh because this story would never work in the modern era. This woman was trapped inside her house and a creepy stalker guy was trying to break in. She rushes to the phone to call for help, only to find it dead. “He’s cut the phone lines!” High drama. Much tension. If you’re in an era without cell phones.

It must be a lot more difficult for writers to come up with a viable plot these days. For example, it’s harder to turn a story on a secret in an age where no one seems to keep them anymore. It’s harder to shock a small town with a scandal when we no longer find anything scandalous. And conspiracy theories are a lot harder to pull off in the age of camera phones, surveillance videos, satellite imagery, and twitter.

I saw the movie Summertime recently, in which Katherine Hepburn, “an aging spinster” (Their description, not mine. She was my age when she played the part.) goes off to Venice on holiday and has a steamy romance, much of which you don’t see because they cut away for, I swear to God, fireworks. But the whole premise of this movie is that this highly repressed woman has to go to Europe to let her hair down. It is a lovely romantic story, but it probably will never be remade because nowadays she wouldn’t go to Venice, she’d just go to That’s hardly exciting.

I think future generations are missing out on quite a bit. Gone are the days when we will see people being threatened by impatient thugs as they make a call from a phone booth, or cub reporters click clacking away on typewriters, or operators listening in on your conversations (theoretically).

It kind of makes you wonder what’s coming. I’m waiting for the first movie that employs a 3D printer.