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.

Archive for the tag “AT&T”

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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I’ve been right here, where were you?

Well, here’s a surprise:  it’s another grey, drizzly overcast day.  I have the heater on and am wearing Uggs, jeans, a sweatshirt and a fleece jacket while I drink moremoremore coffee.

A couple Mondays ago dawned grey, stormy and depressing and I felt the same way.  I’d spent part of the night with Murph T. Dog dug head first under the blankets, crammed between me and hubs, me teetering on the edge of the bed as the poor thing shivered beside me in terror at the thunderstorm, his butt uncomfortably close to my pillow as house vibrated with every nearby CRASH of thunder.  I held him tightly, partly to calm him and partly to keep from sliding off the little sliver of bed left to me.  Doze off BOOOOOM doze off BOOOOOM … repeat.  I finally sort of oozed out of bed and foggily tried making some coffee.  Note to self:  put the K-cup IN the coffee maker if you prefer coffee over a mug of hot water.

The previous Friday hubs had directed the house painters to sever what he thought was a dead DirecTV cable coming into the house and, yep, soon as he sat to watch the news it was sadly discovered the wire had been, in fact, and as you’ve already guessed:  Live.  I’m gonna bet you also know which of us spent 45 minutes on a Friday evening calling customer service numbers only to be told to call a different customer service number only to be told to call a different customer service ad nauseam.  I did finally connect with a charming young man named Andy who was originally from South Dakota and who sounded just like my family; within a minute I was pronouncing it South DahkoatAH and yep you bettin’ all over the place.  It was old home week in a customer service phone center microcosm and I suddenly desired thick black coffee in a china cup and lemon pie with a meringue top sweating slightly where the sugar had been sprinkled, served on a mismatched china dessert plate.

At 7:37 am Monday, while I was still trying to figure out why my coffee tasted like hot water, the phone rang.  What.  The.  Hell?  DirecTV, scheduled for 8am-Noon, was on their way – and actually showed up at 7:59.  I don’t know what kind of business they are running there, hiring nice young men to effectively handle your service call and then sending a nice service man out – on time – to fix your cable – without telling you that he needs something he doesn’t have on his truck and he’ll be back in an hour only to return next month.  They cannot continue to do business like this, it is not the American Way of Truth And Justice and Liberty For All Amen Baby Jeezus In Your Little Wooden Crib Filled With Straw Where Is The Remote.  (You don’t have a remote, Baby Jesus, remember?  It wasn’t invented yet.)

Meanwhile I had a morning appointment scheduled with Dr. K because who actually thought DirecTV would really show up?  So now their promptness and fine customer service have caused me a problem because I’m a cynic.  I do believe it is my right to remain cynical and I do not appreciate them trying to disabuse me of my hard-earned cynicism.   I was forced to read Letters to the Editor twice at lunch just to restore my lack of faith in humanity.  I called and – of course – Dr. K’s fine office staff promptly answered the phone and graciously re-scheduled me for noon, which, for all I know, was Dr. K’s lunch time.  It would be just like them to be really nice like that.  And I bet they don’t read the idiot Letters to the Editor and yell at the newsprint, either.

So two Mondays ago I had a little extra trouble with the whole brain thing.  As you both know, I have a little bit of a daily fight with depression.  Whenever I finally see Little Baby Jesus in His Crib His Daddy Made Him we are going to have a talk about the issue.  However, and until that time, I’m stuck with this damn brain, made of cells and electonicals and neutriniums and chemicals that all function on some scientific level, leaving me to expect it to be rational which, apparently, once filtered through the physical composition of a body, it can no longer be.  Created to be rational, born into irrationality.  Grey rainy cold days don’t help.  More caffeine does.  Social media helps.  People post uplifting crap about being Zen and smelling the roses and putting your best foot forward helps.  They post stupid pictures and videos that make you laugh, which helps.  I can’t prove it, but I have also begun to suspect there are people out there who actually post stuff – on purpose – that will make me either LOL or say dammit.  Dammit.

After a bunch more grey cloudy drizzly days that week, Monday dawned last week:  grey, cloudy, drizzly and miserable.  This time, however, I didn’t even have internet to lift my flagging spirits because, as opposed to the DirecTV people, AT&T was desperately trying to reach new lows in customer service and doing a damn fine job of it with little or no apparent effort whatsoever.  Flushed with success after the TV issue, I decided to call AT&T about the irritating and increasingly loud hum in the phone which also disconnected internet for a couple of minutes every time I answered a call.  Fortunately the only people calling are debt collectors and that guy from prison in the Philippines, but, still.

I knew it was a mistake, I’d known all along not to be expecting this to be a quick fix and sure enough the guy they sent out Thursday, the Invisible Man, who never actually showed up at my house, asked me any questions or checked back after invisibly not fixing the issue: didn’t fix the issue.  What Mr. Invisible Serviceman did, actually, was leave us with no connection whatsoever, as I discovered Friday morning when my internet and phone were dead.   Another 45 minutes of AT&T service call hell YES YOU SORRY @#&^%&!!! PIECE OF @#&^$$$!! THAT YOUR MOTHER CREATED IN A FRYING PAN, AS I’VE SAID 87 TIMES, THAT IS MY CORRECT PHONE NUMBER, do you have trust issues??? (I’d like to point out here that at this time I was yelling at the computer that answered the phone, not a real person from India.)  (I would not yell like that at a live person.  I might say to them, “I’m so incredibly frustrated, here, and I’m kinda mad, but I understand it is not your personal fault.”)  (Then, when I hung up, then I would definitely yell at them.  YOUR MOTHER WAS A HAMSTER AND YOUR FATHER SMELT OF ELDERBERRIES! I would yell, randomly shoving my fists in the air in a slugging motion.)

Picking up the first index card in the pile, the service person read carefully, “Yes, Mrs. Upset Person, your phone line does appear to be dead.”  NO SHIT, SHERLOCK!!!! I screamed silently in my head, my eyeballs bulging.

“Yes, I understand I have no service.  This is why I am calling you, my new favoritest person in the world.”

Looking through their alphabetically ordered index cards, the phone answering person found the Conciliatory Reply index card and replied, reading slowly, “I am sorry you are having this problem.  We here at AT&T value you as a customer and think you are probably a fine upstanding person who does not yell at people inside their mind, and we want to help you because we value you, and we are here to help you. How may I help you?”

If I continue typing the rest of the conversation I will A) have carpel tunnel syndrome B) scare the poop out of Mo again and C) have to beg the doctor for a Zanax which I don’t really have time to wait for since their office is closed on Wednesday, plus driving to the pharmacy is difficult once your head has completely exploded.

It turns out that my valued, cherished, esteemed and highly regarded relationship with AT&T was of such importance that they eventually scheduled a service call – for the internet THEY broke – for Tuesday no later than 6pm.  Five days hence.

And they weren’t kidding.

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