Monday, December 29, 2008

'It Wasn't Anybody's Fault'

New York Times columnist Stanley Fish (right), who calls himself a "grumpy old professor," but who is actually a funny, smart guy, has the kind of column today that those of us who have written columns for years want to write more frequently than we do. It's the "get even with the mega-corp column" and every time I have a service problem with a faceless voice on the end of a telephone line--one where I end up feeling de-humanized and humiliated--I want to write that column and get even. But I usually don't because it's a personal vendetta, albeit a righteous one that many in the reading public would appreciate. And, besides that, the mega-corp might be an advertiser in my magazine.

Still, stealing from Keith Olberman and naming AT&T the "Worst Company in the World" for a day must have felt good to Stanley and the column's worth reading if only for the rant value.

The problem with taking a chance by ranting in a column like this is in being wrong. I was ready to kill the local cable company recently on two different occasions. First, I got this huge bill for service that I had upgraded. On second look, the bill was right. In a fit of impulse buying, I had added a level of service that sounded necessary for a guy who deals with a lot of downloads of big files and it was expensive. I'd forgotten about it.

The second screamer was that my wireless cable service at the office was disconnecting just about every 20 minutes and if my office neighbors were not familiar with the expletive "shitgoddamnit" they became so. A call to the cable provider got the the answer I detest, regardless of who's saying it, "It's not my job." I was told that the cable company installs the cable and anything beyond that is up to me. So I called in my IT gal and she couldn't figure out what was wrong. I lived with the interrupted service for two weeks--cussing blue--until one day Alicia called and said, "I figured out what's wrong with your cable."

"Please tell me it's the cable company," I begged.

"Sorry," she said. "It's your phone; the signal is interrupting your computer service and I can fix it in a couple of minutes." OK, yes, I was relieved. To a degree. I wanted to rail against The Man and this robbed me, though. "It wasn't anybody's fault" is hardly the satisfying conclusion I had in mind.

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