My Cup Over Runneth!

ibiza 2019 491When my son was born. I promised him everything good.

I feel like I’ve made good on that promise.

On social media, I call him Chef Boy ‘R Mine.  He’s the love of my life.

A few years ago, he met the love of his life on match.com.  They married yesterday.

I am over the moon.

We’re all in Ibiza, Spain.  The wedding was the best I’ve ever been to.  The reception was a heap of fun.  Today, I have gloried in the fact that he is happy and has found, as he says, his Queen.

I haven’t had a lot of time with my daughter-in-law, but the little I’ve had, I adore her.  She is intelligent.  She is gracious.  She is beautiful.  My grandchildren will be awesome.

img_3563The view from my cup is overflowing with happiness.  I am just suffused with joy.  It’s so much fun to watch the wheel of life turn and to see one’s offspring do well.  I couldn’t be happier.

Jeremy, my son, was uncompromising when it came to a help-meet.  He had high standards and he met them all.  Vanessa is a treasure.

We can walk this world alone or we can choose a partner.  My son has chosen well.  I am beyond happy.  My cup over flows.

Buenas noche!

An open letter to Ken who may not have been thinking straight.

Ken Arndt
President
Frontier Communications Inc.
39 Public Square
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773

Dear Mr. Arndt:

I think we’re off to a bad start.

For reasons I didn’t understand, Frontier decided to buy the customer base and infrastructure of Verizon’s troubled dealings in West Virginia. I can’t imagine what you folks were thinking. While on a smaller scale (by far), it’s akin to someone buying BP’s gulf operations. Perhaps y’all needed a tax loss. Anyhoo, y’all took over the reins on July 1st.

In any event, you’ve inherited me. And hundreds like me – the same folks that overwhelmed the Public Service Commission and the Attorney General of West Virginia with complaints about Verizon’s equipment and nonresponsive customer service. Your website greeting indicates that you were aware of at least some of the problems.

The State’s response was to fine Verizon and impose sanctions that included proof of improved customer service and a significant outlay of cash to improve equipment and coverage. Verizon, responsible corporate citizens that they are, effectively said, “Hell, no” and sold you their mess.

I have to ask. What were you thinking?

My problems with Verizon span about 20 years at a single address with a single phone number. The most concise synopsis of the problem is: when it rains, the equipment doesn’t work. West Virginia boasts possession of the largest rain forest in North America or maybe just a big rain forest.  I can’t quite remember.   Either way, it rains here. A lot. And, by the way, we’re having a fabulously wet July.

A few years ago, Verizon sent me an email taunting me with the news that I could have a DSL connection in my home. I was dubious. At that stage of my relationship with Verizon and their equipment, I could not make an outgoing phone call more than half the time for 3 years. On a somewhat irregular basis, I called the phone number that connected me to what was euphemistically known as Verizon Customer Service and reported, yet again, the problem. With varying degrees of civility, I was told a technician would be dispatched to my house.

Of perhaps the 45 service calls I had in that 3 year period, a technician showed up at my house maybe half-a-dozen times. The technician always arrived when it wasn’t raining and couldn’t find a problem.

Far more often, the technician didn’t show. I would burn vacation time to be at my home between 8 and noon, or 10 and 2, or 12 and 4 or some other four-hour window of time I’d been instructed to be here at risk of having my ticket cancelled if I was not.

The four hours would come and go. I would call. Someone would tell me they’d peered at my phone line from a distance, determined it was working fine and cancelled the ticket.

I was not a happy camper as you might imagine.

So. When I got the invitation to sign up for DSL, I did. I did so in part because I knew they had to send someone to my house to hook it up.

I almost felt sorry for that guy. First of all, it was raining. Nothing worked. He left. He came back. He talked to people at Verizon. He scratched his head. He did this. He did that. He brought in another guy. Another modem. One thing led to another and they assembled things in a nonstandard way that worked around whatever the problem was. It took about a month. They told me, definitively, they didn’t know what the problem was but that this “fix” seemed to allow me use of my phone and DSL connection.

I was happy. For roughly three years things have been peachy. In the most violent of thunderstorms, provided I keep power, I can cruise YouTube while talking to my Sweet Baboo on the telephone.

Well. All coinkydinky, beginning with the first rain after July 1st and continuing through the present, any time it rains there is so much noise on my line that I lose my internet connection altogether. Voice works, but there’s a lot of static on the line that renders it pretty much useless.

Color me unhappy.

It’s a long story that isn’t particularly flattering to me and I won’t bore you with it, but I ended up even replacing the DSL wiring which ensures the problem isn’t on my end. I did it correctly (or at least as correctly as Verizon did) because it worked just peachy until it rained again on Sunday.

I called Frontier Sunday afternoon.

But first let me just copy a quote from your website here real quick. (You’ll want to refer to this often while thinking about me and West Virginia and Verizon and my mastery of Public Service Commission complaint forms.)

Welcome, West Virginia.

We are excited to be serving you.

Over the next few months, you will see that we do things a little differently than your previous Service Provider. Because for us, serving you is more than just a day-to-day operation. Our work is all about you, our customer. We have an ongoing commitment to servicing the communities we work and live in. It is about giving back, growing with our communities and supporting your needs.

It is remembering that you are a person, not just a customer.

I was heartened by those words, though not too much. I am a realist.

(Goodness! What were you people thinking?)

I talked with a very nice gentleman who actually did listen to what I was telling him. He and I agreed I had an unusual setup and he would put through a ticket for a technician to come to my home. I was instructed to be sure and be here between 8 and noon today.

Having to get up at 0’dark thirty so as to be sufficiently caffeinated to be articulate while technically on “vacation time” from my employer is kind of annoying, but I did it cheerfully high on the fact that y’all remember that I’m a person, not just a customer and that y’all are all about supporting my needs.

Well noon came and went.

So I called, my ticket number handy, and was told decisively there was never any intention for anyone to come to my home as my call had been lumped together with a bunch of others in another town for what y’all are calling a widespread outage. Through gritted teeth, I explained the situation and explained that my internet wasn’t out at the moment, but would be the minute it rained and that I had been told unequivocally that I had be here from 8 AM to NOON so that a TECHNICIAN could LOOK at my equipment.

In that false, ever-so-annoying, “I’m sorry for your inconvenience, ma’am” tone of voice, I was told nobody was coming to my house. And that no, I couldn’t schedule a visit because there was a widespread outage in a town near me and my problem had been lumped into that problem without anyone, it seems, reading the ticket or looking at the name of the town I live in.

Did y’all hire all those Verizon people?

What were you thinking?

So. It’s been my experience that online chat with tech support is a better way to go. I chatted with a guy who refuted what the woman on the phone said. He and I went rounds for awhile about my wanting to speak with someone who could unravel why I was being told two different things. Here’s part of the chat transcript:

12:40 PM Connie: James, I took off work to be here. It is after noon and I’ve heard from no one. When I called Frontier, a woman told me there had never been any need for me to be here.

12:40 PM Connie: I’m a wee-bit perturbed.

12:41 PM James A: I definitely understand, and I do apologize for any trouble you have experienced.

12:42 PM Connie: Moreover, the tech I spoke to on Sunday went through my history of connectivity problems with Verizon and the “fix” they finally settled on. He agreed this necessitated an inspection of the outside box.

12:43 PM James A: The engineers will determine the need for onsite access, after diagnosing the lines and equipment on our end of things. That is all the information I have. I apologize.

12:44 PM Connie: I don’t mean to take this out on you. What I do need is the contact information, etc. to file a formal complaint.

12:45 PM James A: I understand. Complaints should be directed to our Customer Service department at 800-921-8101. You can also discuss possible reimbursement for the time that your internet was down.

12:46 PM Connie: I believe that’s the number I just called and was given erroneous information. I’d like a contact name, please.

12:46 PM James A: I do not know what name to give you…

12:47 PM Connie: Is your supervisor available?

12:47 PM James A: We have many Customer Service representatives. I do not know any of them by name.

12:48 PM James A: Unfortunately, supervisor request via our chat platform, are difficult to comply with. If you’d like, you can call our Internet Help Desk at 877-352-7011 opt 2, and speak with one of our supervisors, or you may try Customer Service aswell.

So. I called that number (Option 2, mind you) and spoke with a very pleasant woman who I warned up front that I had my Super Bitch cape on. I vowed silently to myself. I was going to read your website statement to her if she started in with robot speech, but turns out it wasn’t necessary.

She listened (always a good thing) and apologized (without sounding smarmy) and (gasp) called dispatch to find out what she should tell me. I now have a third version of the story of my ticket. She tells me there is a ticket to come to my house, the widespread outage takes precedence, but there are plans to have someone at my house before 8 PM unless they call me. I just fervently hope that technician isn’t wandering around that town I don’t live in looking for my address.

So, um, it’s now 3:00 and I haven’t heard from anyone, but there are miles to go before we all sleep. With any luck, y’all will be here before the 72 hour legally mandated response period is up. And before I’m out of vacation time.

I’ll keep you posted.

And, um, by the way. You should probably make arrangements for your customer service folks to meet their supervisors and learn their names. It’s got to be damn confusing to not have a clue what to tell people like me who can get rather insistent. I once had a Verizon guy tell me that yes, indeedy, he had a time card, but at the end of the pay period he didn’t know who he gave it to, but that, yes, he did give it to someone. And he’d worked at Verizon for 12 years. Imagine! Twelve years and not a clue as to your boss’s name.

And co-workers! A company picnic maybe? Poor James tells me he doesn’t know a single one of his co-workers’ names. (Is this like a sweatshop or something? Or was today his first day?)

Oh. There’s an old geology principle that states the past predicts the future. I know from past experience, the more vacation time I burn, the more PSC complaints I file. Just sayin’.

Sincerely. . .

Please

For the past couple of hours I have listened to distant thunder rumble. In a spirit of prayer, I have breathed in and out – please.

The sky darkened. A few large raindrops fell. The deluge began.

It’s a wonderful rain. It’s the kind of rain they record for those nature CDs one is supposed to listen to for calming of the spirit and mind.

I have the big white floor fan parked in front of the patio door and myself parked 6” in front of it. I am not nauseated by heat for the first time in days. I am also drinking my first cup of coffee in this house of the past 8 days.

Oh yes…there’s almost a chill in here. Almost.

To keep the heat down as much as possible in the house, I have kept lights off and appliances (especially the dryer) off. The house is very dark and I finally turned on the dragonfly lamp the better to see my coffee cup lest I dribble coffee on the keyboard.

It’s been a bad technology week and I don’t need Something Else. During a fit of heat stroke, I had a tantrum upon calling my DSL provider and what with one thing and another scissored my DSL connection. It was an accident. In the hideous heat that was yesterday, I dangled out the second floor of my window running new DSL line. While I’m very tickled at my ability to figure out how to do this (seemingly correctly), I am very ashamed of my tantrum. I seldom lose such control of my emotions and the venom I spewed all over the woman at Frontier Communications was unprovoked and undeserved. The accidental scissoring of my DSL connection was, I’m convinced, instant karma.

The rain has already slowed down. I was once told that big raindrops heralded a fast, intense storm. I hope that is not the case; otherwise this storm will prove to just make conditions worse.

Deep breath.

Please.

The sky is clearing and the rain has stopped. I can still hear distant thunder.

Please.

I cannot bear much more of this heat.

I have solaced myself by telling myself everyone used to live without air conditioning. And did so while wearing unbelievable amounts of clothes. I have consoled myself by telling myself that millions still live without air conditioning. I have chided myself for not doing yoga because it’s too hot when the practice originated in a country that is the Mother of Hot. I have read myself the riot act for my incessant whining about it. I have told myself this is the last July 25th I will spend without air conditioning.

I have had quite the conversation with My Self. When it’s all said, there is me and there is heat. We’re going to have to learn to live together – at least for another month or two.

I can still hear thunder, but the sun is shining and the fan that just a moment ago nearly chilled me is now merely circulating hot air.

I can still hear thunder.

Please.

Addendum:  My DSL connection is not fixed.  My original assessment, prior to the tantrum, was correct.  Everytime it rains, my DSL goes out.  I was no sooner ready to upload this post than it went out again.  I have a dozen or so posts sitting on the hard drive that never got uploaded due to my intermittant DSL problems.  I called Frontier, kept my emotions in check, and went through the long ugly history of my whole-house filter, line noise, and inability to reach Cyberia when it rains.

As for the rain.  It petered out and then a gentle misting replaced the storm of a few hours ago.  I’m using the time of comparative coolness to tackle laundry.  The dryer is heating the house to nearly the temperature it was prior to the rain.  I hate being a grownup.

Is it a small world? After all?

Now and again I find myself in a daydream thinking about what people are doing while I’m thinking about what they’re doing. For example, right now I’m convinced that somewhere someone is:

  • Painting their toenails and wincing because it hurts their back to do so;
  • Standing in a line that is not moving;
  • Explaining to an officer of the law what happened;
  • Winding duct tape around something;
  • Encouraging a child to either do or not do something;
  • Trying to hold back tears;
  • Crying;
  • Begging for food;
  • Praying;
  • Cursing;
  • Singing in the shower;
  • Having an orgasm;
  • Having a heart attack;
  • Bursting with pride;
  • Suffering shame;
  • Drifting to sleep;
  • Awakening;
  • Falling in love;
  • Falling into despair;
  • Picking their nose;
  • Picking a china pattern;
  • Picking ripe tomatoes;
  • Picking a casket;
  • Entering life;
  • Exiting life.

I imagine these people oblivious to the knowledge that I’m wondering what they’re doing. And why. And how. And taking some comfort that the wheel goes round and round and round; that we endure and not endure and struggle and relax. That, viewed from a distance, there’s a symmetry and a balance to it all until peering in close to see the broken heart in juxtaposition to the joyous one; the ridiculousness of painted toes in comparison to the struggle for nutrition. There are injustices wrought by the arbitrary lines of geopolitical divides; and injustices wrought by economic gerrymandering. Injustices of opportunity and means. Injustice against the person. Injustice against the self.

It’s all silly, poignant, important, meaningless, and cruel, but most people in their last breaths think, “Oh, please. Not yet.” At least I think they do.

And if you were wondering — I’m sprawled on my couch lamenting chipped nail polish and economic injustice. I’m writing this drivel, and plotting, yet again, the best way to infuse my puny little life with meaning wondering all the while if by virtue of existence it already has meaning or if that’s a pig in a poke bought in the cosmic market square on credit at an interest rate I can’t afford. I’m also thinking somewhere else someone is riding a similar thought train. I’m also thinking about how much I’d really like a taco and for It’s a Small World to quit ricocheting around my brain.