Saturday, June 25, 2011

Redemption but No Salvation

Among the many attributes my wife possesses in abundance is patience. Not merely for marrying me though even more so for REMAINING married to me, but rather her ability to give you the benefit of the doubt (after almost 34 years, me not so much).

I mentioned some weeks ago we were switching Internet/telephone and television providers. We moved from one vertical combination in restraint of trade (in my opinion) that now owns its own network, NBC, and went with the 21st Century mutant version of The Phone Company.

Charter 6, one eight two six. That was the phone number of the telephone in the kitchen of the house we lived in at 33 Bloomfield Avenue in Somerset, New Jersey. Wow. My first reaction was to be pissed that somebody has put a sidewalk and steps all the way to the end of the lawn. And then I remembered we haven't lived there in forty-four years. I have some photographs, preserve your memories.

Anyway, I'll bet they didn't keep that yellow wall phone in the kitchen either. And it was all the phone we had in the whole house, which, by the time Dad got through paying people to add rooms, was this big, honking single-story ranch. Typical. But that was the phone company then-at some point while I was out of the country we went after them in court and broke them up, though decades later what was left got back together and bought one another out as well as almost anyone else they could put their hands on. And now they are far larger in terms of customer base and influence then when they were Something Evil the Department of Justice had to smash to bits.

The new, old, phone company made me an offer I couldn't understand and still don't. It involved a lot of 'you give us some money and we charge you for stuff but we also give you some plastic in return that's as good as money and that you can use like money except it's not.' Which explains how life insurance policies are sold even though all that seems to be is someone betting you ten bucks a month until you that you don't die. I'll see that bet and double your indemnity.

The first bill, for over three hundred dollars, showed up last week, Thursday, I think. The plastic showed up this Wednesday and Sigrid set about activating the cards so we could use them to pay most of the bill. I have been wondering why The Phone Company just didn't subtract the value of the cards from the bill in the first place but I suspect it involves Horatio Alger, psychology, the American Spirit and the Gunner's Dream. Besides, as Mom used to say, don't ask the question if you can't stand the answer. I was seated and no one played the Star Spangled Banner.

After an eternity on the phone, from the same company now providing us television, where a taped announcement at regular intervals told her that all operators were busy but her call was important (just NOT important enough to hire one more operator to answer itl) the announcement told her they were experiencing unexpected call volume, activate her plastic on line and hung up or rang off (I'm not sure there's a difference. It's like quail and Quayle for the most part).

So she did--having been less than successful in what I assume is a still a sentimental favorite back in the home office, my wife waded into the web waters and in a manner of moments activated the plastic incentives we received to pay about 70% of the bill tendered by the same people who gave us the plastic. And we're wondering how we can be trillions of dollars in debt. I'm blaming the Internet though to be fair I guess we'd have to include the phone and the tube. And plastic, because we never had these problems with cardboard or styrofoam. If there were any more incentives we couldn't afford to go broke.
-bill kenny

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