Run. Dog. Cat. Cat. Me.

Everything you need to know about running and life and any other random crap I find bouncing through my mind like a ping pong ball. And always be sure your shoes are happy.

AT&T: How I Learned to Stop Internet and Love Tech Help

A few miles south of the Canada/North Dakota border there is a field in which cattle roam among the remains of a Depression-era farm, three sides of an ancient barn leaning nearly perpendicular and the crumbled circular foundation of a corn silo the only evidence of a life or lives long gone.

Or are they?

Look closer.  That crumbled foundation is a clever disguise hiding the rumored-but-never-proven Top Secret Headquarters of the AT&T Customer Service Department.

Deep below the earth are two pale, thin men.  Men who spent their high school years winning the Science Fair and inventing robots to do their Spanish homework.  Men who, despite their most sincere efforts, could not fathom the intricacies of asking a female to the Prom, reduced to quivering, slavering mutes.

These are the few, the special, the cream of the technical service industry crop, carefully vetted by the “Home Ec” teacher, in actuality a member of the top echelon at ATT Customer Service.

Years of secrecy, years of scrabbling up the TechServ ladder, learning to play those life-or-death politics, the two men became a team so bonded, so close they finished each other’s sentences, “Thank you for calling AT” “& T”.  Seamless.  Desperately plotting, playing the dirty warfare of TechServ, they eventually triumphed.

Finally they landed in this North Dakota field, 20 degrees below zero, wind screaming, blinding snow blowing sideways; a moment etched forever in their collective mind.  This was their nadir, their Olympic Gold, their Stanley Cup.   Down, down they descended, thousands of feet, emerging from the elevator into a brightly lit hallway, Muzak softly playing their team song, “Muskrat Love.”

Daily they review US hot spots.  Is there an energy crunch?  Snow/ice storm?  Season Finals or the Golden Globes?  Tax time?  This morning they peered gleefully over the reports, clapping their fish-belly-pale hands and bouncing on their little toes.  “OH, lookie, um, ‘BENJAMIN'”, one tech squealed, “ICE!  SNOW!  Hundreds of thousands affected!”

“Benjamin” trilled, “Oh, um, ‘SAMUEL’, how awesome!  And – it’s  Monday too!”

“Benjamin” and “Samuel”, clutching their AT&T 1998 “A Team” mugs full of weak, tepid tea, headed to the console, all the while sighing happy little squeeeees.

The console was blinking like the Rockefeller Square Christmas Tree and the boys knew very well what that meant, millions of customers pressing 1 for service, 2 for billing, 3 for a new account, painstakingly entering their 10-digit service number on the minuscule screens of their cell phones, only to be asked to re-enter the number for security purposes.  A happy little shiver went up their spines and they giggled.

OH, no – it always happened.  As good as the boys are, and they are the best, someone always manages to get through eventually.  It’s usually an accident although mashing the zero button 32 times will always work – but few people know about that one.

“Thank you for calling AT&T customer service where we are here to serve your customer needs may I have the number about which you are calling?”

“Thank you.  And is there another number I can reach you should we get …”

“oops,” they giggle, remembering first grade and that incident with their underwear.

The boys know there are always a few – usually the ones who’ve had far too much strong coffee – who will return, and they are prepared for that.  It’s not for nothing they are here, sealed below the earth forever, turning paler and paler, marking names off in the 10,000,000 Baby Names for Your Child book.

“Thank you for calling AT&T customer service where we are here to serve your customer needs may I have the number about which you are calling?”

“Thank you.  Is there another number I can reach you should we get disconnected?”

“Thank you.  What seems to be the issue today?”

“Thank you.  I understand that you are saying you have no service?”

“Thank you.  I understand you have had an ice storm there and believe that your service has been interrupted due to that and you simply want to report the issue.  Please hold one minute while I test your line.”

“Thank you.   I have tested your line and have determined that the issue is that you have no service.”

“Thank you.   I understand you have had an ice storm there and believe that your service has been interrupted due to that and you simply want to report the issue. Have you unplugged everything, stood on your head, stuck carrots in your ears and whistled ‘Dixie’?”

“Thank you.   I see that you have indeed stood on your head, stuck carrots in your ears and whistled ‘Dixie’.   Am I correct that this did not resolve your problem?”

“Thank you.   I understand you have had an ice storm there and believe that your service has been interrupted due to that and you simply want to report the issue.   Please unplug everything again, this time count to 100 in German and turn three times clicking your heels.”

“Thank you.  I see that you have indeed counted to 100 in German while turning three times clicking your heals.  Am I correct that this did not resolve your problem?”

“Thank you.  I understand you have had an ice storm there and believe that your service has been interrupted due to that and you simply want to report the issue.  Oh, please, Mrs. Clarke, please don’t make that noise.”

Benjamin snickers.  He hears the Keurig engage and the sound of a thumb being sucked.

“Thank you.  I’ve scheduled your service appointment for Thursday, Juvember 32nd.  Thank you for calling AT&T, I hope I have been helpful.  You will soon get an automated phone call to determine the level of service you’ve received.  Please consider giving me “Excellent” in every category as anything else will not count and my paralyzed child, Little Timmy, will starve.  Have a nice day.”

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