Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.
I don't know, I really don't know if we are a Stupid Society or a Sucker Society? Sure wish that I had a program. Nawww, I'm fine. Don't call the EMTs. But you knew, if you have read my materials these days that it had to happen. Ultimately is such a nice word to use here. It softens my anger. And I'm all in for that.
When I introduce this topic, you will either frown or grimmace with pain or disgust. I am talking straight to you about (a) huge telephone company and I will not name them here for fear that many of you may work for them--and if you do, please ask your immediate supervisor for a hefty raise for if you have worked for over three years for (this) huge telephone company and have endured every asinine customer's complaints that made you want to quit on the spot and start your own Apple Sales Co., right there on any corner of your town.
Now that I have laid the groundwork for this narrative, have you recently had a terrible thunderstorm near your home and without warning, a lightning bolt ran through your home killing your phones, internet service and leaving you with a foolish, stunned look on your face? I did. This past June on a Sunday evening while my wife and I were taking a late afternoon nap. We were at peace with our neighborhood. As far as I know, God wasn't angry at me at the time. So the sudden thunderstorm and lightning were flukes. Nature, I understand, is like that. So I have no one to complain about.
Concerning the people who invented another electra-voice device: (a) wireless little ditty that I cannot name here. Again, for fear that some of you may be employed by (this) off-shore wireless company. But this narrative is not about (that) company, but a bigger one whose name and shareholders all live luxurious lives in the good ol' U.S. of A. I envy these people who will never experience the tase of a nasty cheeseburger sold in a diner on Fifth Avenue, New York City. If I could name (this) diner, I would be first to name it here. But I am not, so let's move on.
On that fearful Sunday afternoon when that lightning bolt took out all of our communication services, my wife and I only looked at each other--hoping that we were both in a nightmare, but not on Elm St. It was completely and without a doubt, real. Even God would side with me. He witnessed the bolt hit our home, so touche', any agnostics.
Before I share with you our Course of Action, do you have one? I urge you and all of your friends to design one ASAP. It will come in handy when a disaster should hit your home or neighborhood. Our Course of Action, (C.O.A.) (even sounds official), was for me to grab my wife's always-reliable wireless phone sold by (that) off shore wireless telephone company where no employees are from American backgrounds. That is fine. The employees that I have talked to at (this) company were always courteous, helpful and very patient.
I think that one of these super-helpful telephone tech's and I made friends during our 45-minute talk as she gave out prompts (back then) as I was setting up one of (their) wireless phones. I'll never forget her name: Shee-Sha. She hailed from Atlanta, Ga. Oh, the memories that she caused me to remember--Downtown Peach Tree Plaza, Below Peach Tree Plaza, to name two. But of course, I was mighty stupid in these days, so naturally I was impressed at that time.
I used one of Shee-Sha's phones to call her competitor which will remain nameless. And you know why. I wanted to report the big American telephone company's Tech Line to report that our Internet and Phone Services were dead. Not breathing. R.I.P. Very easy to understand. So easy, in fact, I would wager that your very own sweet toddler (if you have one) could figure this one without missing the coffee table that is always in their way--pulling vases, ashtrays, and a football trophy that the husband received several years ago in his alma mater in Georgia. Go, Dawgs!
When you are hopefully reading (this) narrative, imagine that you and your wife are sitting inside an upscale theater where the tickets run anywhere from $12 to $15 bucks and the concessions are worthy of those with pocketfuls of cash. Your favorite film is underway. You've planned this outing for months. But you had not planned on the film's producers and assistants' assistants writing into the film (at the last minute) about keeping the film's surprise ending to be seen at the very end--almost at the time you and your lovely wife are now patience-worn and ready to get your coats and head home. This is how I am developing this piece. At least I warned you.
There was a time in our country when a slightly-older man, "Harvey," a third-generation farmer cultivating his ten acres of cotton, corn, and some hay just to grow and feed his milk cow for his family of six. Sounds like America, remember? "Harvey" is one of the best men in that settlement. He never misses church and is always on time when he pays his bills. He is not a wealthy man, but a noble man. But after all, he is as human as the day is long. And like "Harvey," he has his faults like all of us.
One of "Harvey's" weaknesses is really a petty thing, but it is a flaw that surfaces from time to time and in a moment, "that" flaw will surface again. The flaw in question is: Impatience. "Harvey" cannot stand it when he tries to explain a problem to someone who has been billed as an "expert" and who should know what to do right away. One day while "Harvey," who is enjoying a beautiful day in late spring and he is planting his corn for a bumper crop this coming fall. Things couldn't be better in "Harvey's" life. But, uh, oh! "Harvey's" keen hearing detects a rattling near the engine of his farm tractor that has served him for now going on to nine plantings. A long time if you are a tract
"Harvey," a seasoned farmer, stops his tractor, climbs off and sticks his head near the engine that is still running--and yep, doggone it! There is that consarned rattling. "Harvey," who is not made of money, pretends that after all, it is a mechanical thing and tractor engines all have those little noises that appear now and then. "Harvey" feels that he is worried for nothing and puts his tractor back in gear and proceeds to do more planting for he knows that the day is growing late and he is praying that he gets the corn in the ground. This is important for "Harvey," because it means money on the barrel head at harvest time. His wife, "Blanch," can buy a new dress and some shoes and the four children can all have new shoes and a few groceries for the home.
No sooner than "Harvey" drives up to his home after finishing his corn planting, his Farmall's little, unimportant noise is now a loud metal-against-metal clanging that would signal any big town that a tornado is coming. "Blanch," who has been busy cooking supper for "Harvey," her and the four kids leaves the fried chicken be and hurries outside to see what is happening to "Harvey's" tractor. "Blanch" and "Harvey" have been married almost 27 years and more in love than when they met one Fourth of July in the nearby town whe the annual Veteran's Parade was in full-swing. Love birds then. Love birds now. Siighhhh!
"Harvey," is not only a fantastic farmer for someone who didn't go past fourth grade, but he also knows how to put a roof on a house, do electrical work plus is pretty handy with an open-end wrench under the sink. "Harvey" is a man in demand many times where he, "Blanch," and their kids live. But now it's "Harvey's" turn to find someone in town who knows how to work on his Farmall. Although the corn has been planted, there is still the task of planting the cotton seed to grow right along side the corn. Right now, "Harvey" has just drove up in his 1953 pick-up truck. He swears by that truck. His dad gave it to him when he was way too old to farm. So now the problem at hand is finding the "Farmall Man," who works at the Farmall Tractor Lot just down main street.
But uh, oh! "Harvey," upon walking inside the Farming Tractor Lot building to inquire where the "Tractor Man" is, he is told by "Jim Green," the manager that his number one tractor mechanic has left for another tractor lot just over in a nearby town. "Harvey" is down-hearted. He and the "Tractor Man," were great fishing buddies and members of the Lodge. But not undaunted by this sudden surprise of the "Tractor Man" leaving without telling him, "Harvey" asks "Jim" if he can see the new Farmall mechanic. "Jim" grins and then calls the new Farmall mechanic, "Todd Gilbert," to the lobby. "you got an important customer," "Jim" yells.
"Gilbert," apparently a green horn of a tractor mechanic, does know the fundamentals of the Farmall engine workings, but that is about all. "Gilbert" is "Jim's" nephew who ran into some uneasy trouble at the college, the University of Mississippi, where he was majoring in Biological Sciences in The Industrial Realm, when a jealous classmate accused him of taking advantage of the classmate, "Tom Wells," in a dark classroom so what could "Gilbert" do but leave. "Gilbert" weighed the options and it seems that "Wells" was gay and when you are gay at this early time in the State of Georgia in the early 1950s, this means trouble when you want to get a quick college degree by sacrificing "Gilbert" and appeasing the legalities that would have put "Gilbert" in prison plus as an added bonus: Tarnishing his uncle, "Jim Green" and his family in this quiet, conservative town of "Middleton, Ga."
"Harvey" is quick to tell "Gilbert" about the awful noise that his tractor is making. "Gilbert" pays close attention to "Harvey" and writes down the information and now is about to give "Harvey" the solution to this problem.
"So, 'Mr. Harvey,' you are telling me that there is this noise, and you heard it in, uhhhh, now what was that engine part?" "Gilbert" asks looking very dumbfounded.
"The engine, son. The engine," replies "Harvey" who is slowly growing more impatient by the minute.
"Sooo, okay. You say that you heard this awful noise, but would you say that the noise was terribly noisy or just plain old noisy?" "Gilbert" asks in a very professional tone.
"Son, please! I ain't got no measurin' stick to measure how awful the noise in my Farmall's engine is . . .all I know is that the sound was bad enough for me to drive here to get some help--I got cotton to plant in the morning," "Harvey" states.
"Okay, 'Mr. Harvey,' now I have just one more question: when you first heard the noise, were you on the tractor in a field or just sitting on the tractor--now think hard. This is the key, I think to how I can fix your tractor," "Gilbert says with a stern look.
"Son, I am not going to stand here going round and round with you. I was on the tractor in my field planting corn and I heard a noise in my tractor engine--now can you fix it or not?" "Harvey" says without batting an eye.
"Gilbert, buddy. Maybe you would like to bring 'Harvey' a cup of coffee. He has been one of my best customers," "Jim" intervenes to defuse "Harvey's" volatile temper for he seen it once when "Harvey" lost it and tore up a pretty good soft drink cooler in our break room--but that was over five years ago.
Now with some fresh coffee in "Harvey's" gut, he seems more settled. "Okay, son. Do you know how you can fix my tractor? Yes or no?" "Harvey asks very sincere.
"Sure, 'Mr. Harvey,' but do you have your tractor here at the store? I need it so I can put some of my new engine testers just come yesterday from Peoria, Illinois, straight from the testing facility and I need to hook these scopes up to your tractor and test it to see why the noise is in your tractor engine. One thing I do know is a good tractor engine does not include a noise when it is running. Just walk with me to where your tractor is parked . . .and we will get started," "Gilbert advises.
"Jim" knows what is coming. And is isn't good for women and children to see.
"Now, 'Harvey," settle down. I've seen that wild-eye'd look in your face and I don't need anymore trouble," "Jim" is almost begging "Harvey" to cool off.
"Jim, I did not know to haul my Farmall all the way from my farm to your store. Do you know just how much that will cost me?" "Harvey says now getting really upset.
"Gilbert" simply stands quietly and looks out of the window.
"Jim, would you allow "Gilbert" to follow me back to my farm to he can take a look at my tractor? I am desperate, "Jim," "Harvey" pleads.
"That won't work, 'Mr. Harvey," "Gilbert" injects. "I don't know if my new engine testing machines will ride on your trailer and if that is what needs to happen, we will have to add another $24.00 to your bill," "Gilbert" says very serious.
"Jim?" "Harvey" says as he is glaring at "Jim" to get this settled.
"Fraid that the kid's right. The farming tractor manual that came with the new engine testers strictly said that the tractor dealer, me, could not let the machines be taken off of our property and if they were moved, there would be a Moving Fee of $500.00. I hate it, "Harvey," but our tractor company is a pretty big company, so my hands are tied. Maybe you could get with a neighbor where you live and load up your tractor and haul it in. I promise you that "Gilbert" can fix it. You got my word on it," "Jim" advises looking worried.
What would normally take a well-trained tractor mechanic to fix "Harvey"s problem would take no longer than 15 minutes. So you see, even with a service employee has a plastic tag on the left side of his shirt doesn't mean squat--for many times, common sense has been replaced with (a) form of human Counterfeit Intelligence that sometimes gets in the way of taking care of his customers in a timely fashion.
Now we turn our attention to (that) huge, American owned telephone company, the one whom I have just called on my wife's wireless phone to tell them everything that happened when a lightning bolt ran amuck in our home leaving us without any way to communicate to anyone.
(This is only a small sample of the frustrating dialogue between me and this huge American-based telephone company. And it is all true).
ME: I'd like to report an outage . . .
(Phone tech interrupts) Outage?
ME: Yes. An outage.
TECH: What type of outage?
ME: Well, since your company menu stated "Telephone Outage and Problems," I am calling about my telephone outage."
ME: (waits to settle down--knowing that I am dealing with a Blue Ribbon idiot). Yes, ma'am. A telephone.
TECH: But, sir. Your telephone is working. Why are you calling to report an outage?
ME: I am using my wife's wireless phone.
TECH: Oh, you are calling to report her wireless outage?
ME: No. My land-line telephone and internet service.
TECH: Sir, this is not about out internet service.
ME: I know! I was reporting about a lightning bolt that killed our telephone and internet service.
TECH: Oh, I apologize for that. I will transfer you to Sales.
ME: No! I do not want to buy anything---please! Can't you just take down my phone is out?
TECH: Oh, your phone is out?
ME: I said that not two minutes ago. Are you okay?
TECH: Oh, I am not allowed to answer that.
ME: Okay. Forget it. Now . . . can you restore my telephone and internet service?
TECH: Oh, you had a recent telephone outage?
ME: YES! About fifteen minutes ago.
TECH: Oh, sir. Why then didn't you call us when your phone went out?
ME: Ma'am. I am doing my best to keep a civil tone, but obviously, you do not know what I am talking about.
TECH: I am trying. Let's do it this way: What seems to be your problem?
ME: There is no seems about it. My phone and internet service was knocked out by a terrible lightning storm and I need your company to restore my service. Please!
TECH: Oh, you are calling to report a lightning bolt. Sorry. We are not connected with the weather.
ME: I know that! Please try to understand what I am saying. I need my phone and internet service restored.
TECH: Did you allow your bill to lapse? I will connect you with Billing.
(I feel my chest bursting.)
ME: NO! I will go slow. I--need--you--to--restore--my--telephone--service.
TECH: Oh, I'm sorry. You want to order a new telephone?
ME: Please be honest. Are you trying to pull a practical joke on me or are you filling in for a tech who DOES know what I am talking about?
TECH: No, sir. I am fully-capable to help you.
ME: Great. I want to report my telephone and internet service.
TECH: You want our internet service?
ME: How long have you worked for this company?
TECH: Ohhh, I would estimate . . .about nine years.
ME: Then why can't you understand the problem that I am talking about?
TECH: I do. Now who are you?
ME: Okay. I have told your computer messaging service no less than three times--my name, telephone number and password . . .why do you want it now?
TECH: We have to comply with Homeland Security and be aware of any sign of terrorism.
ME: I am not a terrorist. I am an American and have proof of that. I have been with your company over 22 years. Now will you please restore my telephone service?
TECH: Sure, sir. Now what seems to be the problem?
ME: I am going to explain this one more time: a lightning bolt hit my house knocking out my telephone and internet service, and . . .I am talking to you over my wife's wireless phone to report this problem to you.
TECH: Okay. Just a second. I will call your phone number and see if IT IS WORKING.
ME: I can tell you that . . .
TECH: Sir, your phone number does not work. Do you want to report an outage?
I was left to wonder if this tech was related to "Gilbert."
© 2017 Kenneth Avery