Yesterday, New Year’s Eve 2011, was not a funny day. I woke up sad. All three kids were off living their lives, and I wasn’t even sure what they had planned for the night. I didn’t know where they would be. How could I be sure they’d be safe, if I didn’t even know what city they’d be in?! I couldn’t help recalling New Year’s past, when the five of us would play “Yahtzee” and stay up late to eat chocolate fondue together. Midnight hugs and kisses, excited wishes for the year to come, waking Dad up to see the ball drop….it was all in my head as I started the day.
I tried to shake it off, honest I did! I’m happy with my quietly empty nest. Most days. I like the neat kitchen, the clean bathroom, the full fridge. Usually. I’m excited for the kids, impressed with their independence and maturity. I am! Most days.
Yesterday, though…..not so much. Yesterday I just woke up sad and couldn’t shake it off. I woke up feeling sorry for myself, and that is never a good way to start the day.
Paul had a bad cold, and felt really awful. We had no plans for the evening, in part because he needed to lay low and recover. I understood. Really. We had no party, no dinner reservations, no “First Night” plans. I came into the biggest party day of the year as if it was just another Saturday. I tried to shake off the blues.
I did some laundry, vaccuumed, cleaned up the kitchen. Our dog, Sadie, needed one of her special “medicated” baths to help with her ongoing skin issues. I spent an hour holding her in place in the bathtub as I squirted the shampoo into the water, poured bucket after bucket over her unbelievably dense fur, and rubbed it all into her chest, back, legs and head. Then I spent 20 minutes trying to rinse her off. I had the shower head clasped in one hand while the other hand desperately pulled on her collar, trying to keep her inside the tub. “Good girl! Good dog!” I kept panting, as I pushed her big head back into the shower stall with my chest. “You’re doing great!” Add in the 30 or so minutes of blowing her dry while holding her in place, and you can understand why I got to 1 o’clock with every muscle in my butt, legs and back screaming in pain.
My feeling-sorry-for-myselfness only increased at that point.
Then Paul asked me to just make a quick call to Comcast to find out if our billing was straightened out. He was going outside in the cold to get wood for the stove; what could I do, complain? I grumbled a reply, then cursed (just a little) under my breath. How many other women were making billing calls on New Year’s Eve, huh? Weren’t they all out getting pedicures and taking naps in preparation for the glittering dinner parties later on? I felt more than a little virtuous as I got out my computer and logged on to the Comcast site. Virtuous and pissed off, all rolled into one.
At this point in the story, you need a little background. So bear with me.
Like a whole lot of other Americans, we recently realized that it was not in our best interest to keep our (tiny) bank account with Bank of America. We made the decision to switch to a local Credit Union, and so we did. Over the past month, we have called every business where we had an automatic withdrawal set up. We thought that all was well.
But this is 2011 (OK, it was 2011 yesterday). NOTHING is easy in this age of computer “accessibility”. Things have gotten slightly messed up this past month. On Friday, Dec. 30th, I got a call (on my Verizon cell phone) from Comcast. It said, “There is a problem with the credit card that we have on file. Please call or go on line to update your account.”
‘Kay. So yesterday, at Paul’s request, I went on line, and tried to log into my Comcast account. Huh. I seem to have forgotten the password. I couldn’t get in. No problem. There was a button that said, “Click to reset password.” I clicked.
About ten seconds later, I got a little message box saying, “There seems to be a problem with your account. Please call or log into our “chat help.” Well, my phone was all the way across the room, and I was very very busy feeling terribly sorry for myself, so obviously, I clicked on the “chat help” button. Immediately, a message appeared, wishing me a wonderful day, thanking me profusely for contacting Comcast and asking how she (her name was “Susan”) could be of help.
I felt immensely relieved to have such a NICE lady out there to handle things, even though she started her chat with “Good afternoon, Paul!” I just figured that the account must be in my husband’s name, and figured I’d pretend to be him. So, I explained my dilemma, told her about the phone call, said I needed to reset my password, blah, blah, blah.
After a moment, she replied, oh so politely, that she needed to “verify my security information” and needed my address, account number, the name on the account and the last four digits of my social security number. I indulged in a minute of healthy swearing. (Oh, relax! She couldn’t hear me!) and heaved my aching muscles off the couch and into the computer room, to dig through the files for our Comcast Bill. Back to the living room, where I entered the required information into the computer. And tried not to feel SUPER sorry for myself, spending New Year’s eve with Susan the cyber servant. I sighed, and waited for her reply.
And here it was. “I’m sorry, but the account is not in your name. The name on the account is Karen. Please have her contact us.”
This time I screeched a little and typed rapidly. “I AM Karen. This is me. You’re the one who thought I was Paul.” Susan, whoever you are! Just reset the damn password.
“I’m sorry. I’m sure you can understand that we need to keep your information secure. I can have a representative call you. Would that be OK?”
“Sure, especially since you freaking called me yesterday to start this whole mess.”
“Is this a Comcast phone account?”
“Then I apologize, but we can’t call you. You have to call us.”
“What!?@$!!! Are you INSANE? You did call me! Yesterday! On my non-Comcast phone!!!” You stupid computer idiot, you!!! The sound that was now coming out of my nose was not at all pleasant.
So. I stomped across the room, found my damn phone, and called the 800 number on the bill. Got a message (of course!) that all representatives were busy, and that my estimated wait time was 10 minutes. I was too sore to pace, so I spent the next FIFTEEN minutes grinding my teeth and tapping my foot while I sat on the couch with the computer open (to refer back to the annoying chat) and the bills spread out in front of me. I was feeling very, very, very sorry for myself at this point.
I thought that I might just break down in tears after fifteen minutes of enduring the worst canned music, interrupted at least five times by a disgustingly cheerful voice asking me breathlessly, “Did you KNOW that you can simply LOG ON to comcast.net and get your questions answered RIGHT THERE?!” She sounded like she was about to wet herself with joy over this technological development, so I fought back my desire to scream about my recent experiences ON LINE with her company.
FINALLY; a human came on the phone. He (of course) asked me for all of the exact same information that I had given on line. I repeated everything, and he said, “Gee. There is no problem with your account. You don’t even have automatic payments with us. I have no idea who called you.”
I am a saint. I calmly thanked the young man, asked him to reset my password and wished him a very Happy New Year. Then I calmly waited while he transferred me to the technology department.
More waiting. More horrible music and comcast ads. More gnashing of teeth. Finally, a woman came on the line. “May I verify your account, please? I need to know your address (again!!?), your account number (again?!!) and the last four digits of your social security number.” Through my clenched teeth, I gave her the EXACT same information I had given twice before in the past hour.
“I’m sorry.”, she said calmly. “The social security number is not the one we have on file.”
SHRIEK!! SCREAM!!! VERY BAD WORDS!!!!
The phone went off, the computer was closed, the bills were crumpled up and tossed.
I grabbed my keys, got in the car and cried my way through the next half hour.
Curse you, Comcast. Curse you, New Year’s eve, with all of your tender memories and unfulfilled promises.
This just isn’t funny.