Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Yesterday's Work

Still no dial tone the next morning. Rose, the phone lady I spoke to the previous night who told me the problem would be fixed by the morning, the lady who said she would call me if there were any changes, didn’t call. I’m shocked. It’s a good thing I didn’t hold my breath, waiting for her to call. I guess she’s just not that into doing her job.

So, being a reasonable person, and having a big imagination, I decided to give the phone company time to have their coffee and breakfast. We are a civilized society, after all. I went about my business, until around 11 am. Still no phone company van outside my house, no Phone Guy in a uniform doing his Phone Guy thing with the cables.

So I called the phone company from my cell phone. Patrick answered and asked if he could help me. I told him my sad story. I told him Rose never called. He asked for my phone number and punched in a few keys on his keyboard. Then he said that the problem had been fixed. Needless to say, I was surprised, since my phone was still dead.

I started putting the screws to Patrick. Not in a mean way, and I didn't yell. I simply told him I was frustrated, and this was not acceptable. I told him I wanted the problem fixed that day. Patrick informed me that all the technicians were already booked for the day.

But I’m yesterday’s work, I told him. That gave my problem priority, didn't it? By the way Patrick sputtered, I could tell he was now over his head. I asked to speak to his supervisor. I waited five minutes. The phone company put on an upbeat, jazzy number for me to listen to while I waited. So considerate, these phone people.

Arden came on the line. He was the supervisor, but he sounded a lot like Patrick. Or maybe I was just getting paranoid. I was dreaming up conspiracy theories while I waited on the phone. I’m a writer, after all. Maybe this would be a great novel. A frustrated, depressed ex-nurse writer with anxiety issues becomes the victim of an elaborate hoax by the phone company, and decides to seek her revenge.

Arden listened while I told him my sad story. Classic supervisor skill #101. Let the customer rant to let off steam. Make sympathetic noises and tell her you understand her frustration. Arden did all these things. I asked Arden to tell me the problem would be fixed today. Arden hesitated. He couldn't make any promises. At least he was more honest than Rose. He said he had to talk to the dispatchers, and find out what was happening. He agreed I should be a priority case. He said it would take him about 45 minutes to do all this. Then he’d call me back.

I gripped the cell phone tighter. I had heard this line before. I told him I didn't believe him. He assured me he would call me as soon as he knew more. I was filled with doubt. Desperate, I reached for the only weapon I had to hold him to his promise.

The phone bill.

Listen, Arden, I said. I pay 50 bucks a month for my phone services. For every day I’m without it, I’m going to deduct $1.82 off my bill (February only had 28 days). What do you think about that?

Arden was a slick one. He had already anticipated this. He said, yes, that I was allowed a rebate on my phone bill if I had no phone service.

I don’t believe you, I said again. You don’t work in billing. You can say anything you want. It won’t be your problem. Billing won’t know what I went through with you people. They’ll think I’m just a delinquent customer.

Arden steered our conversation back to the matter at hand. He said we needed to sort out the repair problem first. He was right, of course.

So I watched the clock, and kept my cell phone close. Would Arden call? Or would he be like every other phone company employee I’d come across in the last few weeks?

Stay tuned …

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