Thursday, June 13, 2013

Actual Telephone Conversations Heard at My House #15


ME:  Hello?

  Hi, is this Juice?

ME:  This is.

AC SERVICES LACKEY:  Good afternoon. My name is Michael.  I’m with A.C. Services calling on behalf of the U.S. Armed Forces Association Fund.


AC SERVICES LACKEY:  I see that we got your donation to the fund last year and so if I…

ME:  Um, actually, no you don’t.


ME:  You don’t see a donation made by me last year.

AC SERVICES LACKEY:  Well, actually I do.  It was $20 from Juice Aaron.

ME:  Nope.  I made no $20 donation last year.

AC SERVICES LACKEY:  Heh heh, well, maybe somebody got a hold of your checkbook then.

ME:  No, that didn’t happen either.  No, I made a $20 donation TWO years ago.  But that was back before I learned how very very little money actually gets to any of the charities represented by AC Services.  Which is why we now have a hard and fast rule in this household to never donate any money to AC Services charities under any set of circumstances.

AC SERVICES LACKEY:  Thank you for your time, Juice.  You have a nice day.

ME:  You too.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Looooooooooooooooooong Story Short (PART 2)

Like I said, beyond getting internet service set up, my major goal in my conflict with Suddenlink was for someone to call me back after the 18 broken promises that someone would.  I just wanted someone to answer my questions about the possibility of getting service (a possibility their own tech-department had introduced to me waaaaay back in April) even if the ultimate answer was “no.”  So, when last I reported here, on August 17, I had finally, after six months of begging for a callback, been contacted via telephone by a tech operations manager at the local Suddenlink branch.  The tech operations manager is a very nice gentleman named Ron who was indeed a helpful soul and about whom I have little complaint. 

Ron did indeed try to help me out by sending out another engineer to survey the setup and determine what, if anything, could be done for me.  Ron soon reported that according to his new engineer, the existing coax connection to our house (which the previous owners used for cable TV signal alone) originates over 600 feet away at their coax station located on the nearest major road.  Our particular connection runs from a junction box ("drop box") that is on the far side of our nearest north westerly neighbor's driveway (not the neighbor just down the hill from us—Jane—whose drop box we have been inquiring on upgrading for six months, but one even further away and on the opposite side of our hill).   This info we already pretty much knew from the original surveyor who came out in mid-April.  And we were assured that this existing cable connection could not be upgraded because of the distance required and because we only own a fraction of the land between the drop box.  Fine. 

The next and only other option the new engineer offered was to run new data-capable coax from the coaxial hub at the main road of the neighborhood all along the existing power lines that surround our valley, to our house, for a total of 2666 feet.  However, Frontier Cable and the local power company already have wires on those poles. So in order to get Suddenlink wires on it, Frontier would have to agree to adjust the position of their lines on the poles to allow for Suddenlink lines. This option would cost a total of $12,758.77 to accomplish.  (Hence the $12,000 figure that showed up with no explanation in our account notes back in late May.)  However, Suddenlink suggested that because there are three potential-customer-households along the route of that line, if each house chipped in, and Suddenlink paid the other 1/4, it would only cost a bit over $3000 each to have Suddenlink installed.  This was still not an option as far as we are concerned.  I mean, how fair is it that we have to pay even $3000 when Jane, our NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR, has the service for sticker price.

I then again inquired to Ron as to the feasibility of simply upgrading the drop box in Jane’s yard and running a line up the hill to us.  The new engineer had not covered that option.  In fact, according to Ron, the maps on file at Suddenlink’s local office did not seem to show that particular drop box at all, nor did it show that Jane nor the neighbor across the road from her (Martha) were even customers.  I assured him that they were, for I had already confirmed twice with Martha, and she had even given me her account number to pass along should the question arise.  Ron agreed that there seemed to be some x-factors at play and he suggested that what he next needed to do was drive over (a 55 mile trip) and survey the situation for himself.  Clearly something was amiss in their records if their maps didn’t show two customers where two customers existed.

In the intervening couple of weeks, I spoke again to Martha and learned a bit of history of the neighborhood.  Apparently not long after the early houses in the neighborhood had been established, some 15 to 20 years ago, the people who lived here made a deal with Suddenlink that if Suddenlink would establish a central hub for cable TV service at the mouth of the neighborhood, then the residents themselves would pay to have the trenches dug from it so that cable lines could be buried and run to their individual homes.  Suddenlink in turn agreed to the upkeep of those lines and had done so since then.  Of course, when the lines were initially buried, high speed internet was not a service Suddenlink offered, so upgrades had been made years later in order to offer that to most of the homes.  The former owners of our house had either not wanted it, or it wasn’t possible due to the distance from its drop box.  But that did not preclude the other drop box in Jane’s yard from being upgraded, to my mind.

True to his word, Ron did come out to survey the situation for himself, about a month after he and I had first begun communication.  (And for the record, he was as nice and helpful in person as he was on the phone.)  His conclusion was that it might be possible to upgrade to box in Jane’s yard, but he thought the semi-rocky terrain between the box and our house might prove problematic.  Plus, Jane would certainly have to sign off on the process for Suddenlink to do the work through her yard.  He also suspected that our house might still be too far away from the box to get a strong enough signal.  I pointed out that, just eyeballing it, our house wasn’t THAT much further away from the box than Martha’s house across the street was.  Surely, this was still worth a try?  Ron said he would go away and run some numbers and see what his engineers thought about it.

Weeks passed and I heard nothing back. At any point, I could have called Ron to ask, for I still had his number, but I was frankly of the opinion that I had been the one to initiate communication with Suddenlink more than enough and it was again time for them to start calling me back when they said they would.  I wasn’t even mad about it.  Over the course of the then 7 months I’d been dealing with this, my emotional spectrum had run from frustration, to blinding red fury, to wild annoyance, to bemusement, to amusement, back to frustration, and had by then settled into a sort of brown indifference.  In other words, I wasn’t really expecting Suddenlink to come back with a “yes,” anymore, but if they were going to come back with any answer they were the ones who needed to call.

In October, some weeks later, I received a call from one of Ron’s fellow engineers at the regional tech office. I wish I’d written his name down, but I forgot to. The engineer said that Ron was busy, but that Ron had asked him to call me to let me know that they (the engineer and Ron) had been in consultation and had studied the maps (you know, the maps that didn’t show either of my nearest neighbors as Suddenlink customers) and they had both concluded that the distance between the drop box in my neighbor’s yard and my house was too great for us to receive a proper signal. In other words, Suddenlink was declining to give that method a try. This was pretty much the call I had been expecting to receive, but I wasn’t giving up that easy. I again reiterated that just from eyeballing the distances involved, I could see that while my house might be further away from the drop box than Martha’s, it wasn’t so far a distance that it should make that big a difference. I still thought this was a method worth trying. The engineer didn’t seem to know what to make of this, so he told me that Ron would have to call me back about it. 

That, perhaps not surprisingly, was the last communication I had with Suddenlink.

And, again, that’s okay.

I’m not calling Ron out on this. He’s in a tough position because on the one hand he’s got a tech department that thinks that my house is an iffy hookup and they clearly don’t want to burn the calories (and money) necessary to give it a try—particularly if burning the calories involves digging a trench through rocky terrain to try it. It’s just not cost-effective.  And after thinking about this issue from that perspective, I came up with a way that the system could be tested at little cost.  Had Suddenlink called me back, I would have suggested that it would be easy enough to test my theory that my house was close enough to the box by simply unplugging one of the existing connections in the drop box (Jane’s or Martha’s) and running a coax atop the ground, up the hill to my house and then seeing if they could get a signal inside.  This would require no digging and no upgrading of equipment to test.  If it worked, they could then worry about that sort of thing.  If it didn’t, then they would be proven right and I would willingly go away forever and proclaim myself in the wrong on this blog.  Again, I bear no ill will toward Ron. He may very well have been correct that our house was simply unserviceable. I may well have been wrong. But we’ll never know for sure.

During the many months the Suddenlink situation has gone one, competing outfit Frontier Cable has been teasing us repeatedly. This, mind you, is the same cable company that promised us 12 mb download capabilities over the phone back in April, but which turned out to be less than half a meg in reality when the installation guy turned up. This was also due to our home’s distance from their nearest DSL “pizzabox” station (apparently their industry term) which was technically located in another town entirely.

Since then, we’ve received a few more telemarketing phone messages from Frontier promising us that DSL was now available in our area, only to learn that it really wasn’t when we called them back to sign up.   In fact, back in October, I received the following Actual Telephone Conversation Heard at My House (#14)...


ME:  Hello?

BRITTNEY THE FRONTIER TELEMARKETER:    Hello, sir.  My name is Brittney and I'm calling from Frontier Communications, your telephone service? 


ME:  Okay.

BRITTNEY THE FRONTIER TELEMARKETER:  Before we begin, I just want to let you know that this call is being recorded for quality purposes.

(Longer pause)

ME:  Okay.

BRITTNEY THE FRONTIER TELEMARKETER:   Huh. (And this "huh" was said in a tone that one might interpret to mean: "Huh, I’m about to have to read this whole next sentence.”) Sir, do you currently have internet service through Frontier?

ME:  Um... if you’re with Frontier, wouldn’t you know that already?

BRITTNEY THE FRONTIER TELEMARKETER:   No sir. You haven’t given me permission to access your account.

ME:  Ah. Good answer. Then, no, we don’t have internet through Frontier—

BRITTNEY THE FRONTIER TELEMARKETER:   (Interrupting)  Well, sir, Frontier—

ME:  (Interrupting right back) —because we have been told we cannot have internet through Frontier.

BRITTNEY THE FRONTIER TELEMARKETER:   Oh, no, sir.  You can have internet through Frontier.

ME:  Not high speed internet.

BRITTNEY THE FRONTIER TELEMARKETER:  Well... it depends on which speed you choose. There are different speed levels.

ME:  Yes. And, from what I’m told, high speed isn’t one of them at my house.

BRITTNEY THE FRONTIER TELEMARKETER:   (Pausing to consult her screen.)  No, I see that it is not.

ME:  And so internet service through Frontier is not of use to me at this time.

BRITTNEY THE FRONTIER TELEMARKETER:   No, I can see how it wouldn't be. 

ME:  So...  (Long pause)  You have a good evening, then.


Okay, maybe I’m an asshole. But Brittney started it.

Back in early November, Frontier left yet another message with a sales rep sounding very confident that we could have DSL.  Seeing no Suddenlink solution in the offing, I took a chance and called Frontier back. The sales person on the phone sounded equally enthusiastic and said the local equipment had been upgraded to allow those living in our area to have service.  I was still suspicious. So I decided to test the waters by just ordering the fastest possible DSL speed they offered on the premise that it would likely be another trickle when the installer got here. 

A few days later, the new installer turned up and opened up the DSL tap. It’s certainly not a trickle. Granted, it’s still a long way from a torrent, too, but it’s a satisfactory amount of DSL speed. While the 3G hotspot we’d been using for internet had been sufficient for most things, it is sure nice to not have to deal with it anymore. No longer do I have to plug in my phone in order to upload podcasts. No longer do we have to worry about battery power for the wireless hotspot. It’s all just there when we need it.  (Well, except for today when it went out for four hours, but that’s not exactly huge.)

So let the word ring out that Frontier got us what we needed and with only a modicum of hassle.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Looooooooooooooooooong Story Short (PART 1)

Okay.  I have once again been negligent in my blogging duties here for a period of months, and it is again due to guilt at not having anything to report in the ongoing situation with Suddenlink.

Well, actually, there has been some degree of things I could have been reporting about the situation, but mostly it’s been a matter of still not having internet service with them and still not receiving call backs from them as regularly as I would care to.  The main reason that I have kept quiet on these potential complaints is that I was trying to play nice in the hope that it would get me somewhere.  And while I think it has taken me further than if I’d waged a play by play, daily, negative media campaign, playing nice has not taken me quite the distance I had hoped since we still don’t have service. 

After nine—count `em, NINE—months of waiting, it appears very much as though we will never have high speed internet service through Suddenlink in our current home.  There are indeed technological issues at the root of this—some woefully expensive and others simply untested by Suddenlink’s choice and my own decision not to press the issue further.  And that’s okay.  I’m not trying to call anybody out here, just stating the facts.  

That said, as of last week, we do finally have high speed internet service through another company that had not previously been available to us.  We no longer have to rely upon the 3G hotspot feature in our cell phones to go online.  This being the case, I’m officially ending my “battle” to get service with Suddenlink.  And I’m calling that battle a draw.  Even though my dealings with them did not end as satisfactorily as I would have liked, essentially I got what I wanted, which was for someone to FINALLY call me back.  Granted, it took them seven months to actually do so, but once communication was established things went fairly well.  In fact, I bear no ill will toward Suddenlink anymore.  I would be more than happy to use them in the future in case the wife and I move to a different dwelling that is capable of receiving service through them.  
That said, I do feel like I owe what readership may still be here after all these months some degree of explanation as to the events that have occurred since I last wrote about the problem, not to mention a summation of what those events were for folks who didn't want to translate my fable-speak in the Once Upon a Time series.  Again, not pointing any fingers and not trying to get anyone at Suddenlink in any kind of trouble, just stating facts. 

As I mentioned in my entry back in August, a Suddenlink employee named Tina read of my troubles with the company on this blog thanks to my finally name-checking the company rather than my veiled references to  The Link of Sudden.  She asked for an explanation of the situation and I emailed her the SHORT SHORT history.

So, just to play catch up, below is a copy of the SHORT SHORT VERSION email I wrote to Tina in early August.  I’ve edited it only to remove names and phone numbers and one other word that was incorrectly chosen but inconsequential to anything.

AUGUST 8, 2012

Dear Tina,

Thanks for the note on my blog.  Since you’re a Suddenlink employee who needs to know the particulars of my case, the phone number my account is listed under (not one that works, cause we no longer have an active account with Suddenlink) is (NUMBER REDACTED) The number I can be contacted at now is (NUMBER REDACTED).

If you like, you can see in the account notes the timeline of the ongoing matter, but below is the short short version that doesn't have to be translated from fable-speak, as in the blog.

Back in February, my wife and I moved from BORDERLAND, WV to TRI-METRO, WV.  We chose the house we purchased partially because it had Suddenlink service and we and our real estate agent assumed would have high speed internet capabilities.  Turns out, not so much.  The house, we learned, had cable TV service, but the cable line running to the house was over 300 feet from its junction box well at the bottom of the western side of the hill.  We were told by two different installation techs that data signal on that line would not be consistently available so they could not install HSI (HIGH SPEED INTERNET) service.  We were told we were unserviceable.  This we understood, but because all of our immediate neighbors (including one only 70 feet from our house) already have high speed internet service through Suddenlink, we feel (and have been told by Suddenlink) that it is technologically possible for us to have the service as well if certain upgrades are made to the local system.  We were advised by the secondinstallation tech to call and ask to speak to someone in the tech department and to request that a survey of the site be conducted.  And this (THE SURVEY) was done. 

The surveyor came out and told me that in order for our house to receive signal, either the entire valley would need to be restrung with new poles and new cables from the main box on (STREET REDACTED) road to us, (not a likely scenario, I admit) or the junction box physically closest to us, in my neighbor’s yard 70 feet down the hillside from us, would have to be upgraded to be able to accept a third cable and that cable would need to be buried and run up the hill to us.  At that time (early March) he said that his superior officer would have to conduct a cost/benefit analysis to determine if Suddenlink would be willing to undertake either option.  He also assured me that I would be contacted within a few days regarding the results.  This contact has yet to occur.

In the intervening months, I’ve called repeatedly to ask for the result and with each call have been promised that someone would be contacting me by phone regarding the issue.  At first I just wanted to know the results of the cost/benefit analysis as promised.  As the weeks stretched on, I just wanted the promises of phone calls to be kept at all.  I believe I said to one phone rep, “I just want an answer even if it’s `no.’”  I wanted to know the answer of whether or not the junction box in my neighbor’s yard could be upgraded to allow us a cable.  I even offered to pay for the burial of the cable itself if the junction box could be upgraded.  No calls were received.

After two months of promised calls and no results, Iended my service with Suddenlink for our BORDERLAND house on the grounds that I was paying for service I was not receiving.  I believe I did have some of this time refunded to me, which was nice.  But I still wanted an answer about TRI-METRO.  In all my phone correspondence, I made sure to leave my cell phone number as the number to reach me at, as the one on file would not work. 

I must say that my dealings with Suddenlink phone reps have mostly been cheerful.  Many have seemed sympathetic to the situation and have attempted to leave the sort of escalating notes to supervisors and local techs that were designed to get attention.  

And, on April 23, eleven days after I had last been promised a call, seven weeks after I first phoned to move my service, I finally received the first and so far only phone call from Suddenlink.  It was from a supervisor who had received the escalated note from 10 days previous and was calling to see what he could do. Unfortunately, he was a supervisor from the BORDERLAND office somehow thinking this was about the house in BORDERLAND and not the house in TRI-METRO.  Upon realizing this, he assured me that a “Leon” from the TRI-METRO area office would be in contact within the day.  Leon never called.

A month later, on May 26, I called Suddenlink again to try again at getting some info.  The phone rep, Amber, said there was a note in the account that the cost of installation would be $12,000.  That was all she said was there.  No indication if this meant we had to pay $12,000, or Suddenlink would have to pay $12,000 or if we were to split it with Suddenlink or any actual details.  She said she would escalate another note up the chain to a supervisor and that someone would call us back to let us know.   No call came. 

On July 27, two months later, I phoned Suddenlink back to see if the notes had been updated with an actual answer since this was about the only form of communication that had actually happened.  There were no updates that the rep I spoke to could see.  He was very helpful, though, and made further notes as to the situation and the fact that since late February I’ve been promised a phone call approximately 18 times and have yet to receive one beyond the erroneous one from the supervisor in BORDERLAND.

I really like Suddenlink’s service.  I only want to receive it.  Or to be told via a conversation with an actual human being or in writing why it is that the local junction box in my neighbor’s yard cannot be upgraded.   I seem to be the only one in the neighborhood who does not have high speed internet through Suddenlink.  (I know no one has it through anyone else, because I’ve tried everyone else and no one can provide it even though we’re within spitting distance of the city limits.) 

I’m not requesting the entire valley be restrung on my behalf.  But if the one junction box in my neighbor’s yard, which contains two plugs (one for her and one for the neighbor across from her) could be replaced with one that has three plugs, that would be awesome.  I am still willing to pay for the cable to be buried if it comes to that.  I just need to know if it can and will come to that.  I am not willing to pay $12,000 or even $6000 to receive a service all of my neighbors and by all logic I should already have.  But I am willing to go to some expense to see this done. 

Clearly there is a disconnect somewhere between Suddenlink’s West Virginia office (CALL CENTER) and the actual field office in our area.  The easy explanation is that the field office is not seeing my cell number listed in the request for a call and are continuing to try and call the disconnected number of the old account.  Every time I've called since the account was disconnected, I've been sure to leave the new number I can be reached at.  No call.  It just seems to me that either a deep break in communication has happened somewhere or there is someone in the chain who doesn’t feel it’s part of their job to phone customers back after 18 promises that such callbacks will be made. 

So far, I’ve kept my blogging on the matter to a thinly veiled nature hoping there would be a happy resolution for me to report.   I only mentioned Suddenlink by name in my blog post recently in the hope that someone would pay attention and see that there is a problem here that needs to be addressed. Thank you for doing so.

That is the short short version.

Tina received that letter and forwarded it to a director of operations higher up the chain.  That director, Jack, then wrote me back to let me know that a local tech manager would be contacting me and promised that efforts would be taken to make certain that the situation that befell me would not befall anyone else in the future.  (This, I believe, may be my ultimate achievement in the entire matter, since policy changes of any sort are often glacial with such companies.  I’d like to think that all my effort did not go for naught and that I blazed a trail so that the people who come behind me will have an easier journey.)  Jack also gave me his personal cell number in case I had any further trouble.  I’ve still not had any cause to use it.  So thanks go out to Jack for that. 


Friday, August 17, 2012

The Call (At long last, the call!)

So the big news is that I have, for the past week, been in communication with representatives from Suddenlink, including the much sought-after local office, regarding our unfortunate ongoing situation with them. And the reason for the communication is due entirely to name-checking Suddenlink on this blog on July 29 (you know, beyond my thinly veiled "Link of Sudden" phrasing I've been using for months).

Shortly after I posted the Suddenlink name-drop, I received a comment to that post from a someone called Suddenlink Help who wrote: "Hi - My name is Tina and I am a `Suddenlink agents paying attention on the lookout' for customers in need of assistance. Please feel free to reach out to me directly for assistance."

And this was exactly what I was hoping would happen.

I looked Tina up on the Suddenlink website and found that she did indeed appear to exist and worked for their help desk. So on August 7, 2012, I sent her an email containing my former account number with Suddenlink and the short short version of the unfortunate ongoing situation minus all the Once Upon a Time language. And, for a short short version, it was still fairly long. But then, the unfortunate ongoing situation is now in its sixth month, so I think a couple of politely-worded pages can be tolerated. I doubt that it's even necessary to post the short-short note here, but the truly short short short version is that I spelled out the major beats of the unfortunate ongoing situation, noting the 18 times I tried to go through proper channels to no result BEFORE I name-dropped them on this blog in anything other than a thinly-veiled way. As I explained in the note, the reason I'd not name-dropped Suddenlink sooner is that I'd been hoping for a positive resolution with my efforts to communicate with them locally. But since one did not appear to be forthcoming, after 5 months, I decided to say their name and draw the attention of someone higher up. Beyond that, I noted my willingness to work with them on a solution if only someone would call me back or otherwise contact me to answer the questions I've had for lo these last six months, even if that answer is "No."

The very next day, August 8, 2012, I received an email from a Director of Operations at Suddenlink following up on the email I had sent to Tina. He apologized that the unfortunate ongoing situation has been as ongoing as it has and asked my patience as they evaluate things on their end and correct the errors of the past so that this sort of thing doesn't happen to anyone else. He even gave me his cell number and apologized again. He said he was turning things over to the tech operations manager of the local Suddenlink office who would be in contact with me shortly.

That very afternoon, I received a telephone call (AN ACTUAL CALL ON MY ACTUAL TELEPHONE!!!! GLORY BE!!!) from said tech operations manager of said local office. He too apologized and said that engineers had been sent out that very day to evaluate the situation, take pictures and gather maps so that they could figure out what could be done, if anything. He promised he would give me a call with an update the following day. And the following day, as promised, he did.

And it is at this point in the narrative that I shall suffice to say that communications with Suddenlink regarding the issue are ongoing, but ongoing in a positive manner. This is not to say that any promises have been made that I'll be receiving service, and I was not expecting any such promises.  However, steps are actively being taken to see what can be done to get service to me.

For the moment, I'm pretty pleased with how things are going.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Once Upon a Time (Part 11)

As he said in Part 7, the scribe had allowed two months to pass since he last talked to a representative from the Link of Sudden. The last time he had, the rep had been very sympathetic to his cause and had said she was going to load up his account with note after note explaining the unfortunate ongoing situation to her superiors and they would definitely be calling him very soon about answering his questions. Yep. Very soon.

Which, of course, had not happened AT ALL. And even after the scribe had dutifully given her his new phone number, since the one associated with the account, much like the account, no longer worked.

The last he had heard, two months previous, there was a note in his account from someone local that the cost of getting Link of Sudden service to his new castle would be $12,000. There was no explanation of what this cost covered, or if the scribe was expected to pay that or if the Link of Sudden was expected to pay that, or if there was a split. Nothing. So now, the scribe had decided that since having notes left in his account was about all he could expect in the way of communication from the local office, and since two months previous he had asked the Link of Sudden to see if they could get anyone to tell him exactly what the $12,000 figure meant, he would now just phone up the Link of Sudden once again to learn if any new notes had been left for him in answer to the previous ones.

The rep he spoke to indicated there were no new notes. He could see the $12,000 note, but no further explanation was indicated. Rather than read over the 18 plus previous notes in the account, the rep instead had the scribe give him the short short version of the unfortunate ongoing situation. During the telling, the scribe once again mentioned the 18 approximate times he'd been promised a phone call but had yet to receive one. The rep seemed suitably annoyed on the scribe's behalf. The scribe, however, could barely summon up even annoyance any more, let alone anything approaching anger. This wound, he decided, had festered for so long that the tissue had gone necrotic and he was left just feeling dead inside over the whole thing, but was still left with the ability to see the absurdity of it all. So he just told each increasingly ridiculous part of the unfortunate ongoing situation and he and the rep laughed and laughed and laughed, one of them with cold dead eyes.

After they stopped laughing, the rep said he was going to write everything out in detail and send the account up the poop shoot to his superiors. He, at long last, was going to be the rep to get things moving on this issue. The previous reps had been chumps. The new rep would not rest until he had documented things fully and he assured the scribe, someone would be in touch with him very soon.

"No, they won't," the scribe said. And he laughed and laughed some more.

"So how should I word this?" the rep asked.

The scribe decided to play along. If the rep was going to let him dictate the sort of wording he wanted in the notes, the scribe was all for providing those words. He was, after all, a scribe.

"Wants to know if the junction box in neighbor's yard can, in fact, be upgraded to accommodate a cable for customer's house," the scribe suggested. "Customer is willing to pay to have the cable buried, if upgrade can be made," he also suggested. "Is very annoyed that he's been promised phone calls on the matter on 18 separate occasions since February and has yet to receive even one," he continued in suggestion. "Is about to start negative media campaign," the scribe finished.

The rep said he didn't think he should include that last part. The scribe quietly disagreed, but allowed the matter to drop.

At the end of the call, the scribe thanked the rep for his time but assured him that he, the scribe, was under no illusions that what they had just done would have ANY effect whatsoever. He'd long ago given up thinking that anyone at the Link of Sudden was going to pay any attention to mere notes in an account or the suggestions of their phone reps. Clearly either there was a disconnect somewhere in the system in which the local office was unaware he wanted a call back, or they were actively ignoring him.

However, the scribe thought he might know a way to change that, or at least get the attention of eyes and ears higher up in the Link of Sudden food chain. And it could be accomplished, he believed, with the mere reordering of ten letters.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Once Upon a Time (Part 10)

With the last of the improvements accomplished at the old castle in Borderland, it was time to get the place sold once and for all. The castle-sales-agent there asked the scribe and his goodly wife which lawgiver they wanted to use to do the work. Despite having lived there for four years, they had no real notions who would be good to use, so they asked for recommendations.

"Harpo or Zeppo" she said.

They chose Harpo.

Nearly two weeks then passed with no word as to a closing date. Just as the scribe was starting to notice that they should have heard SOMETHING by then, the agent phoned to say that the potential buyers were getting antsy that they'd not heard anything from Harpo's office. They were going to jump ship and go with Zeppo for the closing. The goodly wife called Harpo's office to inquire as to the date and was told by his Verified Georgia Peach of an office manager that no date had been set because she'd not even started working on it. "Well don't bother, then," the goodly wife said. The scribe and his wife told their agent to go with Zeppo, who said he could put a rush on it and set a date for the following Thursday.

The Tuesday before the closing, the scribe and his goodly wife took a trip to Borderland. Their reasons were two fold. One, there were a few things to pick up from the castle there. Two, they had an appointment for their dog, Moose.

During the intervening months since they'd moved to Tri-Metro, Moose had developed some problems. At first it seemed to be a temporary lameness in one leg, causing him to not put weight on it at time. Then they noticed it was actually in all of his legs, one at a time. Fearing something awful, the goodly wife researched it and discovered that Lyme disease produced such symptoms. Only a quick scan from their local vet in Tri-Metro showed no trace of it. The local vet had no other notions and just told the Goodly Wife to keep an eye on him. When, after a week, the problem seemed to be getting worse, to the point that the poor dog had pain with any movement and spent most of his time lying down on his comfy pillow, not daring to move even for the encroachment of deer, the Goodly Wife said, "Screw this" and made an appointment for him at their old vet in Borderland. He too ordered a battery of tests, including an indepth scan for Lyme. In the meantime, he put Moose on antibiotics and anti-inflamatories. One or more of these seemed to help and soon Moose was his usual energetic, bouncy self. But the Lyme scan came back negative, so the vet referred the dog to a university veterinary hospital. They too could find no conclusive cause to the problem, but did note that Moose's lymphatic system was active and producing fluids that were building up in his joints, likely causing him pain. This could be caused, they said, by an auto immune deficiency wherein his own systems were fighting him. The pooch was given a course of prednisone that would likely last for four months. This too seemed to work and soon Moose was gaining weight, drinking like a camel and peeing like a race horse.

The vet visit in Borderland went well. But when the couple arrived at their beloved former castle they found the power was off. From the warm temperature of the fridge, it seemed it had been off for some time. They called their power company and alerted them. However, the company couldn't send anyone to check on it until after they had hit the road for Tri-Metro once again. They were told, via a call, that it was back on.

When they returned to Borderland for the closing on Thursday, they stopped back by their former castle to pick up the one last thing they had left behind, the rope for their dog run, tied between trees in the back yard, and to drop off a welcome card to the new owners. However, the power was still off. Having very little time to get to the closing, they phoned the power company on the way and were told that the house would soon be transferred to its new name.

"Yes, but the future owners do not have the power to turn OFF our power until they are actually the owners, which won't happen for another 15 minutes," the scribe said. "Besides that, the power has clearly been off for a number of days already. We'd like it to be on for the new owners when they take possession."

Oddly, when the scribe and his goodly wife arrived at the office of the lawgiver their real-estate agent had told them to go to, they found it was Harpo's office and not Zeppo's. "Didn't we fire him?" they said. Evidently the firing had not taken. However, the future owners of their castle had had better luck with their firing, for they were nowhere to be seen since they had successfully moved into Zeppo's care. So the closing was completed without the scribe and his goodly wife ever meeting the new owners. They each signed their papers in offices one city block apart. And with that their former castle was now well and truly no longer theirs. They each had a little cry. And, fortunately, the power company phoned back to say that they had actually restored power this time instead of just saying they had.

With the old castle's sale finally concluded, the scribe bid a fond goodbye to Borderland and he and his goodly wife drove off in the opposite direction of the sunset.

(Wait, what was that other thing he was supposed to remember? Had something to do with the move... Was a source of frustration... OH, YEAH! Now I remember...)

Once Upon a Time (Part 9)

The scribe and his goodly wife raided all the gasoline powered equipment they owned, siphoning them as dry as they could with a little hand pump. This, however, amounted to what
little was left in the two mowers and the nearly full tank of the garden tiller. Maybe two gallons, if that. This they poured into her car and hoped for the best.

The wife said that word on the street was that Asscrackton wouldn’t see power again before Sunday and it would probably be the same for Tri-Metro. They would have to find gasoline, somehow, somewhere. The only good thing about the storms was that it had cooled everything off, so they slept pretty soundly with a breeze blowing across us through the windows.

The next morning, the wife called in to work to make sure she needed to come in. No sense driving to Asscrackton if they weren’t going to be open, after all. She was told that they would be open and that one of the main gas stations on the interstate had generator power and was open. Her plan was to drive there and get gas before work. She would also fill up our gas cans.
Meanwhile, the scribe’s job became keeping the house as cool as possible for as long as possible, because temperatures were supposed to hit the upper 90s again. So he kept the windows open until the battery-powered thermometer began to creep into the mid 80s. Then he started closing windows and shuttering blinds.

Mid morning, the goodly wife called to say she had been unable to get gas because the line for fuel was out to the interstate itself. However, her old clinic in Borderland reported that they had plenty of power there, so she suggested he drive there and fuel up. He really didn’t want to drive an hour and a half to gas up the car, but figured he could make it on less than a quarter of a tank if he didn’t use air-conditioning or any other electronics that drew power. And he did make it, and was even able to gas up at my favorite station 17 miles outside of town, across the border, where the gas is always the cheapest. However, they didn’t have gas cans, so he drove on into Borderland proper where he found things were well and truly FUBAR. Every gas station near the interstate was completely full and there was a line of cars adding to the chaos with each passing traffic light cycle.

The nearby Lowes only had 1 gallon gas cans left, so the scribe wound up driving further into town where he found an Advance Auto Parts that had a 5 gallon can left. On his way there, he had driven past Kroger and saw that their gas station hardly had anyone at it. The chaos, he reasoned, had not made it this far into town. But with credit card machines down at Advance, due to the storm, it was a cash only transaction, and by the time he’d made it to an ATM and back Kroger was eat up with cars. He had to wait in line for 15 minutes while the two deep line of people at the pump filled up their vehicles and multiple gas cans each.

The scribe took his newly filled gas can and drove to Asscrackton where he gassed up the wife’s vehicle and chatted with her for a bit in the darkened clinic.

“Do I need to cancel my trip?” he asked. After all, they were in a state of emergency officially.

“No,” she told him.

He returned to Tri-Metro, where there appeared to be one gas station that had some degree of generator power, but none for the town.

Though they waited to cancel the show until close to call time, the final performance for the scribe’s play was indeed cancelled. They would have no wrap party. They would take no cast pictures.

That night, after the scribe’s wife had returned home and they had opened all the windows and doors to catch what little breeze there was, he asked her again if he should cancel his trip.

“Please,” she said. “I grew up with no electricity until I was in high school. This will be fun.” This was, of course, a reference to her formative years growing up in a series of cabins in rural Alaska, where she did indeed have no electricity until her high school years. Her point was that while the scribe could be of some help to her there, his would be another car that needed gas. Plus, he was kind of a wuss when it came to lack of air conditioning. She, however, had grown up with less than this. She had a house, she had water and so she could survive just fine. If things got bad, she would pack up the animals and the deep freeze and drive them back to Borderland where we still had a house and still had power.

The scribe awoke at 3 in the morning and drove to the nearest airport to fly to Mississippi. He noticed power in Asscrackton as he drove through it, which seemed a good sign. The wife, however, would not see power in Tri-Metro for several days yet.

A day later, fearing the loss of their deep freeze full of Alaskan salmon, the goodly wife used a set of shelf-boards as ramps and then used a wheeled dolly to roll the smallish deep freeze into the laundry hall of the castle and then from there up into the back of her Honda Element. She then packed up the dogs and drove to Borderland, plugging it into the garage. Two hours later, another set of massive storms rolled across the state and knocked out power in Borderland. Seeing that there was nothing else to do, the following morning she had Lowes locate the nearest town that still had generators for sale and she drove there to buy the next to last one. With this she returned to Tri-Metro, powering the deep freeze for a few hours each day as well as charging her phone and laptop. And because of their continued lack of power and the lack of Link of Sudden High Speed Internet even IF they’d had power, her 3G hotspot capabilities in her phone kept her connected to the net of the whole wide world.

Meanwhile, the towns of the Tri-Metro area slowly crawled back to life. Stores reopened, people returned to their jobs, and life mostly resumed, albeit on a cash-only basis.

Power was also eventually restored to Borderland, which the wife learned from her former coworkers there. She made arrangements for the last of the castle-improvements to be completed so that the castle there could at last be sold.

Finally, nearly a week later, the power was restored to our castle in Tri-Metro. And an air-conditioned sigh of relief was breathed.