Consider this conversation, transcribed one week after I received assurances from my phone company that a new phone line would be installed before I moved in to my new condo which is a unit in parc central residence:
“We have no record of your phone transfer order…” Judy informed me.
“Yes, you do.”
“No, no we don’t.”
“Ask Kim and John. She took my order; he took me through a pile of questions and said I was good to go.
“We have no record of your call.”
“But,” I insisted, playing my trump card, “you monitored my call for quality control purposes. Ask Kim or John.”
“I don’t know who they are,” said Judy, “but, I assure you, you’ll have a phone on your move date. Don’t worry.”
But I did worry. With good reason. The communicators with whom I’d been dealing were – well, not communicating.
Next time I tried reaching Judy, I got Sarah. “They’re working on your order,” she insisted. I wanted to believe her. I really did, so I gave her a day to confirm.
But nobody called. As this was beginning to mimic my social life, I took the offensive and rang up Sarah.
“Good thing you contacted me,” said Tracy. “There’s no order on file for you. There had been. Someone cancelled it. Don’t worry. I’ll expedite it. A service manager will call you by five to confirm. Since you don’t have call waiting, try not to use your phone until after five.”
Losing clients and alienating friends had become a non-issue at this point. If ignoring everyone meant I’d get phone and Internet service, I’ll mend fences later. But the sacrifice proved futile. Sundown came and still no call. Tracy had lied. And it was now officially the weekend.
At 9 a.m. on Monday, feeling boil-the-bunny mad, I dialed my phone company. Sheila answered and offered to help. I speed-spoke my saga from start to finish, offering a flawless timeline. She promised a supervisor immediately, then promptly cut me off.
I wept as I redialed, lip-synching the “your call may be monitored …” spiel in-between sobs. Exactly eighteen minutes passed, during which time I sniffed my way through the now-familiar recording of the Brandenburg Concerto. When Jenny finally came to my rescue, I was crying so hard, she threatened to disconnect if I didn’t confide in her. I did so and was met by dead silence.
“Can you hear me?” she whispered, so quietly I thought she asked me, “Are you near me?”
“You want to be near me?” I sniffled.
“No, I asked if you could hear me!” she said tersely.
“I can.” I mashed the phone into my ear anticipating state secrets.
“We can’t provide service at your new location. Trust me. It’s not going to happen.”
“You heard me. Not going to happen.”
“Isn’t this call being monitored for quality control?” I stuttered.
“We can’t provide service in the building you’re moving to,” she said quietly, “find another provider and do it soon.”
I looked around. No underground garage. No Hal Holbrook. The click was ominous. I hung up and did as Jenny (Deep Phone) commanded.
Call me jaded, but what transpired next seemed too easy. My new service rep (Marcia) was smug. She assured me that “unlike that other company” I’d have service. She even assigned me a phone number. Hopeful, I chose to believe God had decided I’d had enough abuse and sent Marcia, my guardian angel.
With extreme hope in my heart, I stuck a phone line into the port as soon as I arrived at the condo and said aloud, “God, You can take me now,” when I heard a dial tone. The truck guys assumed my tears of joy were a result of moving stress.
“The nightmare is over at last,” I told the cats. We celebrated with milk and wine that night, but the toast must have triggered an ancient curse. On the following morning, I had no phone service.
“That does it,” I screamed, dialing my cell phone with shaking hands to track down Marcia, but she had disappeared and I got Terry. Whatever. Cliff’s Notes delivered, she promptly solved the mystery: “You’ve been using the former owner’s line. The service tech couldn’t find anyone to let him in on Friday.”
I pictured my high rise: 135 units, on-site manager and large maintenance staff. I didn’t bother to tell Terry that I was home all day. That wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Marcia, I learned, had put my disconnected home number into the space reserved for cell phones. At the time, I didn’t know that I could only get a cell signal if I stood on the balcony and leaned way over the ledge.
After the maximum amount of torture allowed a single customer by the Federal Communications Commission, I finally got phone service the next morning. I was so thrilled, I began treating my hook-up like a newborn. I dialed tenderly. Cradled the handset with care and made only a few calls. I was willing to do anything to nurture my precious line, but telecommunications nirvana was not destined to be mine forever.
A year later – one week after seeing the news announcing that my former carrier had merged with my present one, I was returned to my original service provider without so much as a kiss my grits. Feeling like the Dickensian character who had never quite worked out at any of the adoptive homes she was sent to, I returned to the big house.
There’s a lesson to be learned here. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps you could drop me a line and let me know what you think. Oh, and don’t call. The phone may not be working.