Darling Readers, I've discovered purgatory. What can it be, you wonder? A Third World Country? A small town where everyone knows your business? Nope. Comcast. Normally with Comcast I drop a check off on Sundays. No fuss, no muss. The check hits up on a Friday, just when I get paid. Easy peasy, right? But when you have to change things, well, that's a problem.
For a while this summer I thought Dad was going to stay with me indefinitely. One of the things he requested was a TV in my room where he was staying. Mom got a big screen TV for her birthday, so the tiny one went in my room. It sat there like furniture. So I called Comcast up and got cable in my room, plus a phone line. He had problems right away. "I can't hear what anyone is saying! They're all mumbling!" On and on and on. Because of this and other reasons, he went back to the City, with us working out a Plan B. But in the meantime, I got hit with a big Comcast bill. Oh crud.
Dad had agreed to pay for the installation fee, so I had eighty dollars there. With the rest of the minimum payment, I unhooked the box, then headed over to Comcast. I walked in to a smiling gentleman with a clipboard. "Hello ma'am! What can we do for you today?" "I'm paying my bill and returning this box." "Great!" He sounded very chipper. Whoo hoo! We're getting money from this chick and one of our boxes back! Right on! "Your name, please?"
"All right Jennifer, it's fifteen minutes wait. Have a seat." He gestured to a row of chairs. I sat down near a woman who had five children running around. There were two television sets on with the sound down. The Today show had Kathie Lee Gifford interview Susan Lucci. The other TV had Katie Holmes dancing with some guy while her dad (Michael Keaton) smiled and drank champagne.
I knew I was going to wait, so I took out David Abrams' Fobbit and started reading. I was in Iraq with the bumbling soldiers, but once in a while I looked up to see what's going on. An woman walked in, saying the elderly man she was working for needed help and was hard of hearing. The man walked in, and Comcast Guy said "How may I help you, sir?" "I can't hear you!" Comcast Guy then yelled "HOW MAY I HELP YOU?" "I WANT ONE OF THOSE DVR BOXES!" I held my hands on my ears. Comcast Guy took the info down, then the elderly gentleman sat down with his helper. "These people mumble," he grumbled. In the meantime, one of the children who was running around fell down on the carpet. He sat there for a minute, stunned, then started crying. Loud wailing. The mother finally was talking to a Comcast representative, so she ignored her child wailing on the floor. Finally when she was done she scooped him up then shooed her other children outside. I almost wanted to say "Take me with you!"
Fifteen minutes passed. I kept reading Fobbit. Then twenty. Wait a sec, what's taking so long? I know customer service can be a tricky thing to navigate; when I worked at the library we had doozies of people. One library I worked at I had a patron that had had thirteen dollars in fines looked at me and said "How should we approach this?"
"Oh, if you can pay eight dollars, you can check out."
"But that video was not overdue. I put it in the return box on Tuesday."
"It was due Friday."
"Yes, well.... how can we take care of this?"
She finally paid the eight dollars.
In the meantime, I had to go to the restroom. I went up to Clipboard Guy and said "Where's your bathroom?"
"We don't have one. You can go to Peet's, but we're getting closer to your name."
I went back to my chair. By then an Asian man was practing English phrases. "May I see that receipt? Where is the flower stand?"
"Josie? Is Josie here?" Clipboard Guy called out. We all looked around. No Josie. "Okay, Charles?" Charles started to get up with two boxes and some kind of video game. Oh man, he was going to take a while. Then a Hispanic gentleman said "Excuse me, my name is Jose. Did you mean Jose?" "Oh wait, yes. I must've written it down wrong. Okay, Jose, you're next." Hissing was soon heard. I'm not making this up. "You're killing me, man," Charles said. I felt sorry for the poor guy, but I was ready to slap him around. For God's sakes man! You're playing with people's lives here!
Charles eventually was called up. Another mother came in with a newborn. She was explaining why she hadn't paid the bill "because I was in labor" and didn't want to pay the late fees. He told she would have to wait and talk to someone. More people were walking in, including an elderly woman on a walker. I thought about introducing her to Hard of Hearing, then they could tell the story at their wedding: "We never thought we'd find love again, until we were waiting at Comcast..." She said something to the woman, then said "Can you change the channel? I want to watch the Food Network!" So Clipboard Guy went to the TV set and changed Katie/Michael to Rachel Ray chopping something. Elderly woman said "Wait, not this channel. I want that other channel, the one with Toddlers and Tiaras." Clipboard Guy changed it again. I wanted to take the remote from him and say "She looks like she can handle a remote. Let her change the channel!" On the other TV Kathie Lee was doing deep lunges while vaccuming. The whole experience was reminding me why I don't watch daytime television anymore.
"Jennifer?" They gestured towards a desk. There was a light in the tunnel. I gave the woman two checks and the box. "Oh, you don't have the remote?"
The remote. Oh no. I forgot the damned remote. "Um, look, I'm sorry..."
She waved her hand. "That's all right. Bring it next time." She typed something up on her records. She gave me receipts, wished me a good day. I wanted to kiss her, but I had to pee. I ran outside towards Half Priced Books. Freedom! Oh Freedom! Never mind it took half a hour, never mind I have that image burned in my head of Kathie Lee doing lunges, I was free! Free as the sun!
And then I had to wait five minutes for the restroom.
I'm going back to dropping off checks on Sunday.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries