Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Verizon Perma-call of Doom

I haven't blogged in a week because:

A) I'm a horrible person who doesn't care about my 5 followers.
B) I just worked 6 days in a row.
C) I am dog sitting and being in a different house distracts me.
D) B and C.

The answer is D, but I could understand those of you that picked A. After all, how hard is it to pick from my list of posts to write and write one? Apparently with work, dogs, and my favorite coworker back in town for a week, my motivation gets consumed pretty quickly. I am going to make up for my absence. I have two days off and only one get together and some gym visits scheduled, so that leaves lots of time for blogging.

As the title of the post suggests, I'm not going to keep harping on my negligence for the rest of these paragraphs. I am going to talk about my recent experience with trying to talk to a Verizon representative on the phone. Let me start by saying that I actually like having a Verizon cell phone and that I enjoy not having to deal with Comcast for my internet. On a day to day basis, Verizon works for me... but then there are days when for some reason I need to talk to customer service. On those days, I frakking hate Verizon. (Notice I didn't just say Fuck. Those of you that know me irl know that I say Fuck a lot. I was going to avoid it. Then I thought "Fuck it" and put in this parenthetical with 3 uses of the word. Yeah, I'm awesome and easily amused.)

Last week, I had to try to make two changes to my Verizon account. We wanted to disconnect our land line and upgrade our internet. I figured that they would not be happy with the first one, since they'd have to charge us less per month, and that they might make trouble about it. I hoped that upgrading my internet at the same time might lull them into a false sense of long-term gain and allow them to make this a speedy process. I decided to give them the bad news first and then the good news. To prep for the call, I logged into My Verizon, checked what internet was available in my area and how much it cost, got some coffee, and found a comfy place on my couch. I knew this had the potential to be a long haul of hold time, but I figured that coffee and webcomics would get me through it.

After realizing that they wanted me to call two different numbers for phone and internet, I chose the number for residential phones and made the personal commitment to not dialing the other number. The customer service person either had software in front of them that could also change my internet or they could transfer me. I was oddly stubborn about this commitment as I dialed the number. I was going to get this done quickly and efficiently, damn it. I really wasn't asking for much. This would go well!

After dialing and speaking my way over a few automated hurdles, I was 90% sure I was on hold for the right operator. Now was the time for waiting. A few things struck me as I waited.

1) I really hate having to speak to an automated menu. If they can't give me a real person to talk to, why do I have to talk to their computer? I feel like I have to over-enunciate while I slowly almost shout. Can't I just press a number? The computer can't tell me, "Sorry, I didn't get that. Can you repeat your choice?" in it's creepily cheery voice if I just have to press a number. Everyone has touch-tone phones now. Let's use them.

2) I am on hold for a communication company, a company most known for phones. In light of this, why don't they invest more time and/or money in their holding audio? Seriously, the music cuts in and out randomly and is always quieter than the static that accompanies it. If I didn't already have the service, this hold "music" wouldn't make me confident that this is the company that will give me clear, consistent conversations between my loved ones and I. Hell, I know their cell phones work, but the longer I stay on hold, the more I wonder if other companies wouldn't work better. Eventually, the thought that 95% of my friends and family have Verizon and that in-network calls are free 24/7 reassures me that their crappy hold audio isn't enough to dump them. Still, they're a communications company... they should work on that. It's embarrassing.

3) I've been putting off this call forever. I felt a sense of dread about it like I was calling an ex-boyfriend to help me move the couch that we bought together and I knew he wasn't going to want to do it and I didn't want to ask but the couch needed to move and I couldn't do it by myself. Not that I didn't have a totally more justified reason for calling than some dumb couch. For months now, whenever the land line rang, we got kicked off the internet. Clearly, something was wrong with that, and even more annoying, the only calls our land line got were collection calls. Let me make clear that my husband and I have no past due bills. The collection agencies can apparently search for numbers by address, presumably to avoid losing contact with their victims when they change their numbers, and seemingly every previous occupant of my apartment owed money to somebody. Now, these somebodies kept calling for people who I've never met and haven't lived at this address for over two years. No amount of explaining these things got the calls to stop. Given that Jer's mom has Skype now and that I got really tired of explaining that I didn't know Jason and no we had no vendettas against each other as I didn't even know him in the first place, the phone line had to go. It was finally time to make the call despite the dread.

After contemplating all of that for about 10 minutes and running out of webcomics, I finally got off of hold and talked to a real person. Unsurprisingly, she was required to ask why I wanted to ditch the land line. I explained the above, and though she didn't seem to think the reasons were as compelling as I did, she said the land line would be canceled today if that's what I really wanted. It took another 5 minutes of being on hold off and on for her to figure out how to actually turn the phone off. Finally, she told me that it would be off later today and that I wouldn't be able to dial 911 from it anymore, which sounded a bit like a threat. The tone in her voice seemed to say, "Just wait until you're on fire and swarmed by killer bees. You better hope your cell phone is charged enough to call 911 or you'll die from bee stings and 17th degree burns and it won't be my fault because you're the one that chose not to have a land line."

I pushed past her apparent desire to see my flaming corpse swarmed by bees and gave her the good news about wanting to upgrade my internet from "Power" to "Turbo." This did seem to make her happy, and she set to work on upgrading. This procedure must have been harder than turning off the phone line since this time I was on hold periodically for 15 minutes while she figured it out. I used this time to unload and reload my dishwasher, pace the length of my apartment and check how hot it was outside. Finally, she came back and said, "Ok, your land line has been cancelled and you will be upgraded to turbo today. You'll have an internet outage of 15 minutes to 4 hours for the upgrade, probably today. That will be $66.99 per month."

There are so many thing wrong with that. When will the outage be? No estimated time? My internet access is now a ticking time bomb just waiting to erase a role play post I might write? The crazy price eliminated all those questions.

"$66.99? The internet had a very different price," I said.

"Well, if you put the phone line back on it will be [some smaller number]," she responded... Oh, tricky. Not falling for it.

"I've been your customer for over three years and the Verizon website says Turbo is $39.99 without a phone line."

"I'll see what discounts I can get you, Ma'am," she said as I went back to scratchy, patchy hold 'music.' 10 minutes and 3 offers later, I've gotten a $35.99 price, rejected their DirectTV pitch, and thankfully hung up. I still had two hours until work. Sweet.

Mission accomplished...

Until I check my e-mail and see two new messages from Verizon thanking me for signing up for their Security Suite ($6.99/month) and Starz Unlimited Movies and Games ($27.99/month). WHAT? Damn it. I hate everyone. Rar. When we moved two years ago, they also signed me up for these two services without asking me. That time, there were no thank you e-mails so I had to call to get it taken off of the bill. This time, I'm nipping that shit in the bud and back on the phone with Verizon. More scratchy hold audio, more talking to automated menus, more hoping webcomics updated in the last hour, and then another customer service person.

I explained to him that not only did I not ask for these "services" but that nobody even mentioned them to me. They were just thrust upon me like stripper flyers in Vegas, and I wasn't in the market for security, movies, games, or even strippers. He apologized but didn't sound surprised like they regularly try to just slip these things onto a bill and hope you don't notice the $30-35 when it comes time to pay. He took them off, I got off the phone, looked at the clock, and realized that Verizon had just eaten almost 3 hours of my life that were never getting refunded. Plus, my internet was still a ticking time bomb of sudden failure that could come at any moment, which made the last hour before work really boring.

I guess the moral of the story is that my internet is faster now, so if we both want to play video games and watch Netflix, one of us could also be downloading videos of Vegas strippers or a person on fire swarmed with killer bees without lagging.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

4th Post. 4 Followers. I have to talk about 4's.

I have this almost OCD (but not OCD yet) thing about the number 4. It has been my favorite number since I was a little kid, and now I really like doing things in 4's and having 4's around me. I really, really like and almost need to have them... almost. See? Not quite OCD; just flirting with OCD. Since this is my fourth post and I just got my fourth follower, I decided to blog about my 4 thing.

It all started at the Costa Mesa Fish Fry, a Lions Club charity carnival that benefits "local schools, clubs, and other organizations in the community." When I was a kid, I just knew it was a carnival that was smaller than the Orange County Fair and really close to my house. Wow, I just looked it up, and it was super close. To illustrate its closeness, here is a google map that I've annotated:((The red annotations actually make my point. The green ones illustrate streets and places that just scream, "I am in a town in Southern California!!"))

Anyway, I went to the Fish Fry one day with my dad (I think. If it was you, Mom, sorry), and I was allowed to play some carnival games. I played the fourth game in the fourth row and won a prize, despite the fact that those games are almost always rigged to make you fail. I don't remember what the game was or what the prize was, but I know it hooked me on 4's at an early age.

With the backstory firmly in place, I thought it might be fun to list things that I do in 4's and the length to which I will go to make things 4's.

Things I did in 4's as a kid and have managed to stop:
-I used to chew in 4's. As I chewed, my internal monologue would count to 4 over and over again as I chewed. Sometimes, I still catch myself doing this when I'm bored.

-I walked in 4's. I would take smaller or bigger steps to ensure that my destination took a multiple of 4 steps.

-I really liked the game MASH, not for its divinitory capabilities, but because it had 4 categories each with 4 items and therefore exemplified my preferences... Also, it sometimes told me I would live in a Mansion, drive a convertible, and have one kid with Wil Wheaton, which was awesome!

-I got unnaturally, internally happy when something came to 16. What could be cooler than 4 4's?

Things I do in 4's now:
-If I am eating something that comes in pieces, I will always try to eat a multiple of 4. If there are 7 Skittles, I will bite one in half to make 8. If there are 6, I will bite two in half. Somehow, biting them in half makes them multiply to my satisfaction.

-If I am eating something I have to cut, I will cut it into multiples of 4. I have an amazing power to keep track of how many bites of steak I've had while maintaining polite dinner conversation. I can't tell you if it was 20 or 24 bites, but I can tell you it ended in a proper 4 and that's important.

-Licking your fingers or the utensils after food can be used to make it to 4 when it's the only option (especially handy with popcorn in a darkened movie theater).

-When kissing my husband, I try never to stop on three. I will kiss him again, even if it involves wrestling. If he kisses me five times, I will fight for three more. Sometimes, I think he knows that I'm aiming for 4 and will throw in the fifth to spite me.

-If I run my thumb across my nails while I think, I will run make sure to do it twice each way to make 4 even if I finish thinking first.

-If I have five of something and don't need them all, I will frequently give the fifth away. I seem generous, but I mainly just want to have 4.

-If I hum or tap out a rhythm, it almost always has a 4 beat. If it doesn't in the beginning, it usually starts to.

-I didn't really have an eighth item, but it's important that my list is a multiple of 4.

The only reason the above lists don't convince me I have a disorder is that if I can't make a 4, I just accept it. It sucks, but sometimes I can't have a 4. If it made me freak out, I would have a problem. Instead, it just makes me think, "Well, damn." I'm not completely crazy, right?

Note: I am posting this at 24 after. That's a 4 right there. Rock!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Wal-mart trips breed Wal-mart trips"

One of my friends (and I'm sorry, friend, for not acknowledging you by name, but I forgot who said it first) once said that Wal-mart trips breed Wal-marts trips, and (s)he was completely right.

The first time I heard it, I didn't want to believe it. After all, Wal-mart is the corporate evil. Every time I enter Wal-mart, a sliver of my soul is left there, and I can never get it back. I don't know what they intend to do with the soul shards or even if they know they're amassing a mighty collection of them, but the thought of Wally World actually harnessing and using the power of these soul shards is completely terrifying. Just saying, it is.

Despite the soul-eating, morale-crushing nature of Wal-mart, I often end up there. Target is 15 minutes away, and when I need a $2 thing, it hardly seems worth the drive. Really, it's give up a shard of my soul or pay for extra gas. I know I'll want that shard of my soul later in life, but for now I want my money to stay in my account. I'm not always the best at thinking long-term. I'm sure I'll pay for it when/if I need to sell my soul and find out that a controlling share is already owned by Wal-mart and that the corporate evil is creating a zombie army and their controlling share turns me into a zombie, which makes the rest of my soul really not worth buying. The next thing I know, I'll be eating the innards of total strangers with the rest of the Undead, and the remainder of my brain will be wishing I'd driven to frakking Target at least half of the times that I caved and went to Wal-mart so that I could be, you know, not a zombie and maybe even a member of a band of survivors during the Zombocalypse instead of eventually getting a cricket bat to the head from one of the survivors.

If you kept track of that train of thought, you get a gold star and should probably reward yourself with a cookie.

Anyway, I thought I would tell you about my Wal-mart trips this past weekend. Jer (my husband) and I needed two things: a toilet paper roll plunger and a bathroom trashcan with a lid. Our old toilet paper roll plunger had lost its springiness and was prone to popping out of the holder at random, throwing the toilet paper roll to the floor, unrolling a few feet of t.p., and then rolling out of reach of the person on the toilet that needed it. Clearly, it had to go. As for the trashcan, we have a new roommate coming into our second bedroom, and I have reason to believe that he hasn't had a female roommate in the past (unless he has a sister. I don't know). I figured it would be nice of me to get a covered trashcan, so that I wouldn't be advertising my menstrual cycle to him. There's an extremely small chance that he would be like "Ew, ew, ew. Not ok, not ok. How do those things do all that bleeding and not die?!?!?! Burn the witch!"

Pst, new roommate, if you're reading this, I'm sure you wouldn't do that. I just got the trashcan in the off chance that you were super creeped out by the evidence of girlishness.

So, we went to Wal-mart, got a trashcan and a toilet paper roll plunger in exchange for a few bucks and shard of each of our souls. Good. Done. Right? Of course not. We got home, and I was like, "Jer, we should've gotten a new alarm clock... and I want my own bedside table cuz groping for a kleenex box on the floor at 3 AM is scary and I'm gonna fall some day and that will suck." In my head I thought, "Wal-mart, you sneaky bastard! You've made me need another Wal-mart trip... evil." Jer looked at me like I was a little crazy for not remembering these things before, but our alarm clock is missing the protective cover over the face from one too many encounters with the floor, and I think he doesn't want me to fall out of bed, so we went to Wal-mart again.

When we got the clock and the tables (2 matching tables. Yay, symmetry), I was determined to beat Wal-mart at its little game. I wracked my brain for anything else I might need. A tendon in my foot is angry. Pick up a support wrap. Our Wii controllers sometimes need batteries. Get a pack of AA's. Jer sees something for our old roomie's birthday. Great, get it. Haha, Wal-mart! We know your game, and we will beat you! We triumphantly took our items to the front, parted with $40 and two more soul shards, and left.

We won! We beat Wal-mart! Right? Nope. A bit later, Jer calls from the other room, "Your alarm clock needs AAA batteries."

My brain broke a little. DAMN YOU WAL-MART! I will NOT go back. Not 3 times in a weekend! You can't make me! I don't need a functional alarm clock that badly! Spitefully, I decided to get batteries at Kroger when I went out to get snacks, but the evil spirits of Wal-mart made me completely forget to pick them up. They were trying to force me to bend to their will, and they would fail! Jer was out, so I texted him that I was lame and forgot to buy batteries. He was awesome and brought some home like a knight in shining armor!

And before you ask, I have no idea if he got them at Wal-mart. I didn't ask. I'm kind of afraid to. The important thing is I didn't let Wal-mart make me go a third time. I broke the cycle and kept a piece of my soul! Hopefully, Jer did too. I don't want him to become a Wal-mart zombie without me because then I'd have to kill him and that would be really, really hard and not just emotionally. He knows martial arts.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My gerbil is more hardcore than me...

and probably more hardcore than you unless you are Batman. Batman, if you’re reading this, rest assured that you are slightly more hardcore than my gerbil.

“Why is Leo more hardcore than me?” you might ask if you knew my gerbil’s name is Leo, which you now do. It’s really simple, actually. Imagine that you had cancer. Go ahead. It sucks, huh? You definitely care that you have cancer, right? That right there is why Leo is more hardcore than everyone but Batman.

Leo has cancer, but he doesn’t care. Not even a little. He just keeps doing what he’s doing. Sometimes, I talk to him about this. I wonder aloud to him at what point he’s going to start caring about his cancer. The humans noticed his cancer in March or April and were all, “Omg, Leo has a tumor on his belly. Soon, we will have to put him down, and that will be super sad since we just put his brother, Sirius, down.” But Leo just kept conquering a toilet paper tube as if to say, “Be cool, humans. I don’t even care. I’m hardcore.”

So, we decided to be cool like Leo suggested and the tumor grew and grew and we were like, “Leo, that’s getting really big. Don’t you think you should care about that?” and Leo kept nomming on a sunflower seed as if to say, “What did I say about being cool, humans? I’m hardcore. Don’t even worry about it.” And we didn’t worry about it. But we kept waiting for him to care…

Then one time in late May, he noticed his tumor and scratched it. We saw that he had been messing with it and thought, “Well, this is the end. He’s going to get himself infected, and we’re going to have to put him down. It’s a good thing he’s old and lived a comfy life.” And Leo just kept running in his wheel as if to say, “You’re still not being cool, humans. Yeah, I scratched it; it hurt; I decided to leave it alone. I’m still hardcore; I’m so hardcore that I think with semi-colons.” And we decided to finally, officially be cool and let him tell us when he was going to care and stop being so bad-assedly hardcore.

It’s mid-July now, and Leo is still hardcore. More hardcore than me, you, and everyone… except Batman.

You may now be asking, “Kitty, wtf was that all about? Why did you tell us about Cancer Boy the Rodent Wonder?” Maybe it was my way of explaining the pitfalls of adopting middle-aged rodents that you know have only 1-2 years left of life. Maybe I was looking around my study today, jotting down blog ideas, and heard the click click click of Leo drinking from his water bottle. It was probably that I mentioned my cancerous gerbil in passing in my first entry and felt the need to explain that Leo is not a poor, dying gerbil but a bad-ass, hardcore, nearly-geriatric gerbil who could totally kick everyone’s butts in an optimism competition.

I leave you now with a picture of his hardcore-ness, Leo. Imagine, if you will, that he is telling every one of you, “Be cool, humans. Be cool.”

Saturday, July 10, 2010

First Post, wherein our heroine should explain herself, but doesn't.

As this is my first post, I'm sure I should introduce myself, explain why I started a blog, and maybe even introduce my cast of characters.

However, I think I'll instead talk about why I never put the toaster away. This is probably a better introduction to me than the mundane details would be.

I never put the toaster away for a variety of reasons. Mainly because it's hot, and the cupboard we put it into is made of wood and has cleaning products in it, which basically sounds to me like putting a hot thing into a flammable den of flammable things. My husband thinks this is silly. Every roommate I've ever had thinks this is silly, but are they just not seeing it? I mean, one uses a toaster to just barely burn bread into hot, crispy deliciousness. All toasters have at least some metal, and ours is almost entirely metal. Burning requires heat, therefore the toaster becomes a hot metal box that I'm not about to expose to wood because, you know, I like my apartment when it's not on fire.

My husband has just told me that he doesn't just shove the toaster right back into the cupboard either. He says he gives it "3-5 minutes to cool down." Apparently, I have more faith in the ability of our toaster to retain heat than he does.

Maybe an account of my typical toaster use will help get to the bottom of this. Usually, I use the toaster before work in the mornings. When I work in the morning, my shift starts at the ungodly hour of 7 am, meaning that I have to get up at 6:15. I stumble out of the bedroom, check stuff on the internet, and then get out the toaster. I shove Nutri-Grain Eggos or bread or Toaster Scramblers inside and eat some yogurt while it does the burning thing. Then I grab my now hot and crispy food from the toaster and take it back to my computer where I eat it while playing on the internet. At about 6:40, I realize I should probably stop dicking around on Facebook games and get dressed. At 6:45, I'm refilling water bottles and getting coffee together at the counter with the toaster on it. By now, the toaster is cool, but I am running almost late. I have two choices: put away the toaster like a responsible adult or use that minute to poke my sleeping husband, tell him I love him, and (if I can find his face around the sheets) give him a kiss.

I pretty much always choose the second choice, leaving the toaster on the counter for my husband to deal with when he wakes up for work. I could totally find time to put the toaster away. There are absolutely extra minutes in my morning, usually at the beginning, but at the beginning, the toaster is still a flaming box of radiant heat that wants to burn down my house.

My actual fear, which is so irrational that I usually just claim laziness and forgetfulness when questioned, is that I will put the toaster away 2 minutes too early, go to work, and come back to what used to be my house and all my stuff but is now charred and soaked remains scattered with firemen and being stared at by the people who lived upstairs and my husband who just barely got out in time but couldn't save our cancerous gerbil. And our computers, hi-def tv, wii, wedding photo album, immigration paperwork, and all our other stuff is no more and it's all my fault because I put the toaster away like a responsible adult instead of leaving it safely on the counter.

Clearly, leaving it on the counter is a much better option than burning the house to the ground. Everyone who lives with me should thank me for saving their lives rather than pointing out how irrational my fear is. I don't want to have to burn the house down to prove my point because I like my stuff and my gerbil, but sometimes I think that's the only way to prove how completely justified my fear is.

See? I told you that would be a much better introduction than some silly description of my life.