Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fred Lives Here, and He is Not Ashamed.

Our local phone service thinks it's very helpful. "Thinks" is the operative word here.

I've never been happy with the service we get from them, but they have somewhat of a monopoly on our local market, so I've never had much choice. At this point we have our cell phone, phone lines, long distance and Internet through them,and since we don't want cable television (another thing about our family that confounds salesmen) our only high speed Internet access is through our local phone provider.

So, we put everything together in one of their "bundles" and pay a lower amount per month for the "bundle" of services than we would if we bought them separately, or tried to use a different vendor for our cell phone. Its kind of like a supersize combo meal from a fast food restaurant. Far more than any one person needs.

Now, the bundle of services we get include:

Caller id (I'd never pay for this service since I'm either able to answer the phone or not)

Call waiting (I always ignore it anyway because it interrupts my conversations!)

Call return (which I don't get because you can do the same thing by using the caller id display and then pressing "talk")

Voicemail (which is in no way as useful as a good answering machine)

60 minutes of long distance phone coverage

300 cell minutes (I use, maybe 20 minutes on a normal month, about 60 when I'm traveling)

Unlimited text messages (for some reason, I only text message when I'm in Ukraine)

Internet access on my cell phone

Unlimited Internet access (except for the times, many times, their server is down)

Really bad email service that I long ago ditched for gmail because it is completely unreliable (but free!)

There are probably other ones as well, but I don't even use any except the following:
My home phone
Voicemail (since I can't justify buying an answering machine when this is free on my phone!)
Cell phone (for about a total of 20 minutes a month)

Well, today I get an email that they have, surprise, updated my service! And, for what will only take a few minutes I'll get new features that will really make my day special. Well, of course I figured that I would just ignore it, but this special deal came with a threat.

"you MUST set up your new voicemail box between now and midnight of November 13th, or you will be unable to retrieve your new messages."

Great! They're forcing me to comply! So, I went to the website, which led to me a ton of pdf files on their services, and, after great searching, I figured out what I needed to do. Call a number and re-enter my password, unless I wanted to change it. I also had to re-record my greeting and tell them my user name.

I was so annoyed by that time that I told their computer that my name was Fred Flintstone. My oldest daughter was sitting near me doing her schoolwork. Her jaw dropped in great surprise (and somewhat Pharisaical judgement) and she said:

"Mom, you are NOT Fred Flintstone!" Glad she's straight on that!

But, by then it was too late. They were on to creating the voicemail message, and there was no turning back from the web of decrepit lies I was spinning.

I recorded, "You have reached the home of Fred and Wilma Flintstone. Please leave your name and number at the beep." Our fate as a family of Flintstones was signed and sealed (until the day I call back and reprogram it all).

Now, I realize this is stupid. But I was annoyed, and this was a much nicer way to vent than to yell at someone about how stupid it is to bother your customers with "new updated services" that they don't want! However, what I didn't expect was the reaction from my daughter!

I shouldn't have been surprised, though, considering other times when I've been frustrated and we've both reacted the same way. For instance, when she was playing on a playground several weeks ago, she was instantly surrounded by a group of nosey, simple-minded little girls who spent the first few minutes following her everywhere, pointing and gawking. My daughter was born missing, amongst other things, her right arm, and their little cable-TV educated brains just couldn't comprehend that there was only 1 arm on my kid. With each second of gawking and staring, I grew angrier (my daughter was oblivious, of course).

Finally, the lead girl came over to me -- me, mind you, because she didn't have the guts to ask her herself -- and said, "Where did her arm go?"

Now, I wanted to shout, "IT'S NONE OF YOUR #@$%^& BUSINESS!" but I didn't. I had a feeling that wouldn't be too Christ-like. So, instead, I gritted my teeth, looked her straight in the eye and said, "Well, when she was about 3, we went hiking in the woods. Out of nowhere came the largest grizzly bear --- did you know grizzly bears live in Ohio? I didn't either until then -- and started to attack us. She fought the bear and lost her arm , which has been hard. But, boy, you should've seen the bear. Let's just say that he hasn't been doing too much attacking since that day."

The little girls stared at me in horror.

My daughter rolled her eyes at me.

"Mom," she said, "You need to tell them the truth! I was born with one arm."

But by that time, the girls were too busy scanning the nearby woods for bears to hear the rest of the conversation.

I realize that honesty is the best policy, and I truly am an honest person. Although, I do appreciate it when my daughter responds to those questions with one of her own.

"You don't get out much, do you?"

I just don't have the grace that she has. But isn't it better to spin a good yarn (one that they will eventually figure out is not possibly true) than to blow my top at someone for their ignorance -- or in the case of these girls, their parent's and teacher's ignorance?

Anyway, the special features on my phone are : text message notification and zero transfer.

I'm sure my life will flow much easier now.


MarlaQuack said...

Um, Deb...

When you check your voice mail messages there is an option to do other things. It's really easy to change your messages. Also did you know that you can call your voice mail from your phone by dialing *966?

Love the story about the bear. I can see those eyes rolling from here.

sandra mae said...

I have totally ditched our local phone service because- watch out!- that bundle deal thing goes up in price a lot and often! I finally got so annoyed with them, we cancelled all our services.

and I LOVE your little one's response of "you dont get out much, do you?" PERFECT!