Monday, December 12, 2005


I don't like to complain, y'all. I never have liked complainers. No matter what's wrong, no matter what my problems are, I remind myself that they are miniscule compared to what some people go through. I have clothes on my back, a roof over my head, and my health. Thank you, Lord.

But the things that I have gone through today, I feel they serve as a cautionary tale. Although I'll bet all y'all are much tougher and smarter than which case, the following will serve as a source of amusement.

You can also skip ahead to my FO at the end...really. I will totally understand.

My big problem lately has been my cell phone. Or lack of one. It stopped working on November 30. Innocently enough, I kept getting a message every time I dialed--"We are sorry. We do not recognize your number as an authorized user."

No problem, right? I turned it off and on again, thinking that I would pick up a new signal. Nope. I had to go to the airport to pick up my roommate, so I called Cingular from there.

Spent about half an hour on the phone with a very nice lady, and we tried different things, but she finally had to throw in the towel and told me that tech support would be looking into it and calling back in three to five business days. If they found the problem was with my phone, the nice lady said they could probably get me a free phone.

Yeah, I know. That's a LOT of days, especially if you're dependent on your cell. Luckily, I'm not, so I decided to wait to hear back, and was actually grateful for the break from that little tracking device. I only talk on the phone when absolutely necessary, and mostly use it to coordinate activities with my friends. But because my roommate and I are often attached at the hip, I knew I would still be kept in the loop.

Five days later, no call. I called them, and was told that they were still looking into it, and I would hear something back in about two days. Finally, I got a message on Saturday saying that the problem had been fixed.

Overjoyed, I got my phone, turned it off and on, dialed a number, and ....nothing. Grrr. I called Cingular tech support, and left a message. The next day, I got a chipper voice on my home voice mail, saying....that the problem had been fixed. Feeling doubtful, I tried my phone again. Can you guess what happened? I knew that you could!

Man, if y'all are still with me, I know you are my true and forever friend, because even I'm getting bored. But this helps me, to write it all down, because I fully intend to write a strongly worded letter. Ha! That'll show 'em!

Anyway, I called and talked to someone who asked me all the same questions the first lady did (did you turn it off and on? did you try it 10 miles away? blah blah blah?). She said I could have a new phone, but only through renewing my contract.

It is to laugh, que no? Renew my contract? After waiting almost two weeks for some kind of action?

I actually did not come to this realization until today, so yesterday I agreed to look at the phone models online, pick one out, and wait for her to call me this morning.

Which is stupid. I know. My roommate's mother pointed that out (not that I was stupid, but that she would not call me back). But I wanted to speak to the same person again, being very very tired of talking to a million different people and rehashing the saga for them each and every time.

No phone call today. I called and got another very nice lady, who agreed to put through my order. I was home free! Hahaha! Sucker...

Because my phone number is my old one from Chicago, somehow the system wasn't letting the very nice lady ship me a new phone in Texas. Exsqueeze me? Aren't computers supposed to make things easier?

Very Nice Lady #3 suggested that I go to a Cingular store, where I would be able to get my phone right away. Plus, she even suggested that they might have better prices there.

So off I go to the Cingular store, when really I should have been heading for work. Because I thought this would be it! I thought I was home free! Sucker...

Not only did the store NOT have better deals, but the new phone I wanted was NINETY dollars. (Although Very Nice Lady #1 promised a new phone, I was willing to spend a little to get a nicer phone, so the phone I now had my heart set on is a Sony Ericsson camera phone.)

It took all my energy to breathe, and to collect myself, and I sat down with a very nice salesman who heard my story, and said that there was nothing he could do for me. He couldn't match the online price, because he couldn't override his system. Sound familiar? What kind of crappy system is this?

I asked to speak to the manager, who came out (and bore a strong resemblance to Ann Richards, ex-governor of Texas, btw) and heard me out, and agreed that the only thing I could get done at the store was buy a phone. None of which were free. And none of which were cheap.

I was ready to quit, y'all. I have six months left on my contract, so I asked what the penalty was. $150. Not chump change.

God, it's such a racket!!! They have really built up their system so that you're pretty much shackled to their service, unless you're willing to bite the bullet and throw away $150. That's money I can't just throw away.

And if you're not willing to truly walk, you don't have much negotiating power, do you? At least I don't, because I suck at bluffing.

I walked out of the store, got in my car, and had a mini-meltdown. I was angry and frustrated, but even more angry at myself, for being so upset over a stupid cell phone. Which I don't even use that much!!!

I collected myself, drove home (instead of work, because I had to get this over with, it was do or die now), and got on the phone for, like, the 20th time. I didn't even bother to tell Very Nice Lady #4 the entire story. She took my order,and I told her that she might have a problem with the billing zip code not matching my service area, that she could ship the phone to my parents' house in Chicago. Well, she had just had this shipping problem with another customer, so she transferred me to another department (the Web default dept? Hmmm?).

Transferred again. Right. You would think that at this point, I would be drooling, eyes unfocused, chewing on my hair. But, my friends, suddenly, it was like the skies had opened, and angelic choirs began singing. Very Nice Lady #5 took my order. Not only did she take my order, she waived my Fedex shipping. Not only did she take my order and waive my shipping, but she was able to ship it to my house, here in Texas. Hallelujah!!! Gloria in excelsis deo!!!

I would now at this point utter, I am home free!!! But I won't, not until I have my new phone in my hot little hands.

What is the cautionary tale here, you might ask? (or, you might be asking, why did I just suffer through that boring-ass story?) (or, you might be asking, are you done yet? where's your knitting?)

1) Don't be fooled. No matter how nice a Very Nice Lady seems, their loyalty is to the dark side, and they will hem and haw and put you off and even insult you with their smiling voice.

2) Very Nice Phone Service Ladies do not call you back, even when they say they will. They're not your friends, and they're not your sisters, and they're not your mothers. They won't call you back.

3) The system ain't worth crap.

4) "There's nothing I can do"....that's a load of crap. They can, they just don't want to, or they don't want to put you in touch with someone who can.

I know what you're saying right now...."I would have threatened to take away my service!" Or, "I would have given them hell until they gave me a free phone and a year of free service!" That may be true, and I have no doubt you could have gotten all that.

But, y'all, I am the nonconfrontational type. I am of the "catching more bees with honey" school of dealing with people. And, I have been cursed wtih two years of retail work. I have waaaaaay too much empathy with people in service jobs. A little can be good--they're still human, and deserve to be treated as such. But that empathy makes it very hard to throw tantrums in order to get your own way. We used to hate those people. We used to say, sheesh, get a life, it's only a sweater. Is it worth all that stress on your heart?

Anyway, I finally got to work, and decided to go to the gym afterward, to work off all of that frustration. Since I hadn't brought my water bottle and towel, I didn't want to take the spinning class, so I went into the Hip Hop class.

Hello? A Hip Hop class to work off frustration? It's clear to my now that I have officially taken leave of my senses. I wonder if there's a pattern for a knitted straitjacket anywhere? Y'all let me know.

I consider myself to be a decent dancer. I don't have any formal training, but I can swing my hips and I learn new steps pretty quickly. I am a salsa and cumbia kind of dancer. But this hip hop business, all that jerky motion like you're having a seizure? Why is that considered dancing? (And yes, folks, I am in my 30s, not my 90s.)

Actually, I think I'm probably just 15 years too late for hip hop. The instructor (I'll call her JLo) had these moves where people were rolling around on their knees, and them jumping up and doing a body roll. I refused to get on my knees, just so I could make her choreography look good. (The nice thing about getting older, actually, is that you don't really care if you look cool or not. You just care about protecting your knees. You know you're going to need them later on.)

During a break, the girl next to me asked me how to do one of the moves. Are you kidding me? JLo had taught the whole dance from one place on the floor, so that those of us on the end couldn't see the moves where she had us turned to the left side of the room. I said I would ask JLo to move to our side so we could see her better.

I walked up to the front as JLo chatted with her super best friend buddy about God knows what. Excuse me? I asked politely. JLo and Super Best Friend kept chatting away. Hi? I was standing right there in front of them, but they couldn't be bothered to acknowledge me. Feeling awkward, I barged ahead and asked her to please move over to our side of the room because it was hard for me to see the moves, since I had to look over my shoulder and all when I was facing the side of the room. JLo looked at me with a sour look on her face, and said, yeah.

Why is that these dance classes at the gym are like high school redux? The kickboxing classes can be like this too, where the instructor has 2 or 3 of her super best friend buddies up in the front with her, and they're all doing the moves really well, because they all teach the same classes too, while the rest of us flail behind them, trying to see how the moves are done and not succeeding, because the JLos think that because their super best friend buddies are keeping up, then they must be doing enough to lead the class.

JLo came over to our side, we went through the routine again, and she asked me if that was better, stretching her lips in an approximation of a smile. Yes, thank you, I said, stretching my lips back.

Why didn't I complain? Well, masochistically enough, I love dance enough to actually have gotten some enjoyment out of that class, and because it's the only one, I would like to be able to go back. I don't want my locker to be trashed, or to get jumped after 9th, after the gym.

I came home, stuffed myself with delicious barbeque leftovers, and poured myself a glass of red wine. I'm feeling much better, thank you!

Lest you think I'm completely ungrateful and can't recognize the blessings in my life, here is a list of things that made this weekend special:

1) My roommate graduated! She got her Ph.D! She is a living example that it really is possible to get out of here with your sanity intact.

2) I finished the scarf I was working on for my SIL:

This took up 3 skeins of Noro Lotus (one more than I anticipated, but I think it was worth it), knit on size 13 needles in the traveling rib recipe I found in Last Minute Gifts' fingerless gloves pattern.

I love it so much! It's the perfect width to fit snugly around my neck, but because it's ribbed, it stretches to cover the chin if it's extra cold. I love the size and the texture of it, maybe just as much or more than the Noro itself.* Which is good news, because this means I can make it for myself, with a reasonable yarn substitute. Those tweedy bits are the silvery thread peeking through, which is pretty cool--it gives the scarf a glam rustic look, or a rustic glam look, whichever you like.

(Yes, that is a rogue loose end peeking out. I was too impatient to weave the ends in before taking the picture!)

* After the last post proclaiming myself a Ghetto Knitter, you may wonder I could rationalize the choice of yarn. Easy! It was on sale in the LYS clearance bin, of course! My ghetto status remains intact.

3) I caved and ordered Handknit Holidays today from Amazon. I was buying some books for school, and I only ordered it so that I could make the free Super Saver shipping. For reals!

I think this has to qualify as my longest post ever. If you haven't thrown the computer in disgust or fallen asleep, I know you are still my true and forever friend. Thank you for indulging me. Time for more vino!


At 2:50 AM, Blogger candsmom said...

Man, I'm so sorry you had such an awful experience with the phone company. Phone companies are the worst; they're right up there with the airline industry, with their fine-print policy bureaucratic bull crap. (I'm not bitter or anything, sheesh! ;-)) And I feel for you on the JLo situation. It's like eternal junior high, which has got to be worse than purgatory, I'm sure. On the upside, CONGRATS to your roommate on getting her Ph.D! What an incredible accomplishment. And your Noro scarf is beautiful!! And look at you, too- you're so pretty! Your SIL is going to love it. I'm not sure that clearance bin alibi is enough to clear you from your probee status, especially in light of your recent Amazon purchases. If I don't start seeing some Caron or Wool-Ease soon, we may have to consider temp. suspension, haha! ;-) I FINALLY posted my ghetto CV...I'm SOOO sorry it took me so long. I really wanted to do it in the last post, but I didn't want it to get stuck in all the sentimental sap induced by my indulgent imbibing. Now, it can stand in all its glory, as it should! Thank you, again, for the fab button and the post idea!! Take care! :-)

At 5:12 AM, Blogger Karen said...

Oh man, you sure did have a bad bad day. I hope typing it all out was a good way to vent and feel better. I know it always works for me. I really think that's crazy for them to make you go through all that hassle and give such horrid customer service, and then tell you it would cost $150 to cancel. I admire your patience and that you remembered how crappy it can be to work in retail. I cringe when I go shopping and hear how rude people can be. It's crazy. JLo . . . so funny . . . I guess we never outgrow the cliques, huh? I even find it at my ballroom dance class - there is a group my friend and I refer to as the Dance Divas - they seem to think they are better than the rest of us. Anyway, the scarf is wonderful and I know your SIL will love it!! Hugs from a true and forever friend!!

At 6:30 AM, Blogger Ashley said...

Dude. I had NO service on my Cingular phone in Michigan (literaly, zero bars in my house or at my office) and they still would not let me out of my contract. For the first and probably only time in my life (since I am also somewhat nonconfrontational) I swore at the customer service person I was talking to (who was not a Nice Lady but a Snotty Man) and walked, and in the end it didn't even make me feel better, because the moral high ground does not pay you $150 to stand on it.

Moral? Cingular SUCKS. But your scarf is awfully nice!

At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Nancy said...

Well, you know I'm your super best friend because I read your whole post. I had to because I was waiting for the part where you grabbed your rifle and climbed the clock tower! Sorry you had such a crappy day. And you don't have to justify using Noro. There's no reason why you can't buy yourself something pretty once in a while. And that scarf is very pretty.
P.S. Congrats to Dr. Roomate!

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Talitha said...

I totally understand what you mean about being such a wonderful customer service person that you hate to be the angry customer. I always wonder how we, the people who once gave the best damn customer service in North America, manage to constantly get jerked around. It sucks and I feel your pain. I hope all works out in the end. I would've thrown a fit, but probably a passive one like yours. I also would've thrown a fit on JLo. There would've been some dirrrty looks, I'm tellin ya. Girls are often so off their rockers mad. I don't get it. I really like that Noro yarn you used. It's too bad the only Noro they carry in either of my LYSs is Kureyon. :( Oh, and I made it through your post, no problem. :p

At 11:15 AM, Blogger msubulldog said...

Oh, what an awful day! I hate dealing with cell phone companies and customer service. I am so glad you survived-- with gorgeous scarf intact, I might add!

At 12:33 PM, Anonymous heather said...

Sad for you about your phone and the horrible hip-hop class. I just signed up with Cingular a month ago, now I'm a wee bit scared.

The scarf is fantastic, and congrats to your roommate!

At 3:06 PM, Blogger Laura said...

You know I stuck with that post to the very end, and that I am your true and forever friend! My dad had a bad experience with Cingular too. Did you have to renew? If not, you should get Verizon when it's up. I've been really happy with it.

Also, bee-yoo-tee-full scarf! And what a great picture of you in front of the blue wall. I love it!


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