Friday, October 31, 2014


I spent four hours on the phone the other morning. I probably would have spent even longer if my phone's battery hadn't died.

It all started when I got really annoyed at the satellite dish that provides my access to the Internet. For some reason, every time it rains, even a fine mist, I lose my connection. Each time it happens, I tell myself I should call the provider and find out if anything can be done about it, but I never get around to it.

The other night, however, was the final straw.  I was playing one of my favorite online games, “Letter Rip,” which involves making words from random letters. The game is fairly easy at first, giving you two minutes to find only 10 words. But then it gets progressively more difficult with each round. In round 25, for example, you have only two minutes to find 36 words.

Well, I was up to level 52 and heading for my all-time highest score, when all of a sudden it started to rain. The next thing I knew, I lost the connection and the game ended, right in the middle of a word. Thank goodness my dogs couldn’t understand any of the “words” I uttered at that moment.

So the next morning I was on the phone to the satellite-dish company.

“Sorry, we can’t help you ,” the guy said. “You’re a wholesaler.”

“I’m a what?” I asked, wondering what the heck he was talking about. I mean, there certainly was nothing “wholesale” about my monthly bill.

“You’re a wholesaler,” he repeated. “You took out a package deal with your TV’s satellite provider, didn’t you? So they’re the ones who have to help you.”

I hung up and called my TV’s satellite provider.

“Sorry, we don’t have any technical support for Internet problems,” the woman said. “And besides that, we don’t deal with that particular provider any more anyway. They’re going out of business.”

I hung up and sat there wondering what the heck I was supposed to do, especially if my Internet provider actually was going out of business. I had visions of myself climbing up on the roof and using a wire coat hanger and some aluminum foil to fashion a makeshift antenna, like back in the old days.

So I called the Internet satellite company again. I didn’t care if I was a wholesaler, retailer or any other kind of “ailer,” I figured it was their equipment so they should be responsible for fixing it. I was fed up with having to check the weather report to determine when or if I could use my computer.

“There is no sense in repairing equipment that will be obsolete in only a few months,” yet another customer-service guy said to me. “The best thing for you to do right now is cancel your current account and sign up for our new service. It’s much faster, fully updated and the rain won’t affect your connection.”

The minute he said rain wouldn’t affect my connection, I was ready to sign up for whatever he was offering. But before I made any hasty decisions, I said, “So now tell me the bad news. How much is this going to cost me?”

I’ve been around long enough to know that when something is new and updated, so is the bill.

“That all depends on which package you choose,” he said. He then proceeded to describe each one of them – in endless detail. He talked about megabytes and gigabytes and probably mosquito bites, for all I knew, because I tuned him out after only about five minutes. He could have been speaking in ancient Babylonian and I’d have understood him just about as clearly.

“I’ll take the cheapest package you have,” I finally said.

“The economy package? I really think you should upgrade to the next level,” he said, which I’d pretty much anticipated. “With the economy package, you’re allowed only so many hours online each month. Granted, from midnight until 5 a.m., you have unlimited usage, but that’s not convenient for most people.”

Maybe it wasn’t convenient for most “normal” people, but I’m not normal, and I’m also a night owl, so the package was perfect for me. I told him I’d take it.

“Fine. I’ll connect you to our sales department.”

The man who answered said he was pleased I’d decided to switch my provider.

“Well, you didn’t give me much choice,” I muttered.

“So, now let me tell you about all of our packages,” he said.

I groaned. “No, thanks, I’ve already heard it all, and I’ve picked one.”

“But the rules state that I have to read all of the options to you first,” he said. “So let’s go through them again.”

Before I could protest, he launched into the same previously endless descriptions of gigabytes and megabytes. Meanwhile, my phone was starting to beep, telling me the battery was dying. I began to pray it would.

“I’ll take the economy package!” I finally blurted out, interrupting him. “My battery is dying!”

Fortunately, he stopped his mandatory rambling and set up the installation appointment for Saturday morning.

So early last Saturday, the technician arrived to install my new satellite dish.  I actually felt sorry for the poor guy. The minute he climbed onto my garage roof, a swarm of bees greeted him.

Sympathetic soul that I was, I shouted up at him, “If you’re going to fall off the roof, try not to fall into the back yard. My rottweilers are out there and will go straight for your jugular!”

He gave me a wide-eyed look, then cautiously peered over the edge of the roof…and into four big eyes staring up at him.

“That’s scary,” he said. “I think I’d rather deal with the bees.”

In between swatting at bees, he managed to put up the dish. He then asked me to show him where the previous dish’s cable was located in the basement.

I said, “You really want me to take you down into the basement from hell?”

I call it that because of the problems I’ve had with the foundation constantly sprouting cracks.

His eyebrows rose and he hesitated to follow me. “Why?” he asked. “Is that where you hide the bodies of the people your dogs have attacked?”

I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing.

So I now have my new satellite dish. The way the technicians talked, I thought I’d be getting online with lightning speed. Unfortunately, the word “speed” does not currently apply to anything dealing with my computer. I think whatever lightning they were referring to is in desperate need of recharging.

But the true test will be when it rains. 

I’m tempted to roll out the hose and spray water on the dish just to see what happens…but I wouldn’t want to annoy the bees.

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