27 February 2013

Time travel.

Hell, I'm convinced, is not a physical place.  It is a customer service hotline.

The vein-throbbingly maddening call I made to my mobile carrier today was the culmination of a series of vein-throbblingly maddening interactions I had with various customer service representatives over the last few weeks.  This must be part of phone companies' strategy -- each employee is trained to mislead you in a different way, and to inform you that whatever the previous employee told you was wrong.  As the wrong turns build up and twist in on themselves, they constitute a labyrinth of policies and fine print and exceptions, and as you try to explain your way through it to the representative on the other end of the line, you feel like a mental patient, and decide to cut your losses and hang up before you lose what little sanity you have left.  They're dastardly.  Their schemes are masterly.

But today I made it past that threshold, out into the insane realm on the other side.  Throwing prudence to the wind, I stayed on the line, using stronger and stronger profanities until I was transferred to "John".  And then a miracle happened.  John listened.  John responded.  As I carefully walked John back along the convoluted trail of bread crumbs detailing my blind struggle against the customer service hydra, one fee after another fell away like scales from my eyes.  It felt good.  A past-due bill of $121.60 became (over the course of 29 minutes and many soothing, faintly accent-inflected words from John) a non-past-due bill of $38.

By the end of the call, I was brimming with such gratitude that I had to know more about my angelic benefactor.  I asked John where he was from.

John: "To be honest, we're in a different century."

me: "You're in a different century??"
John: "Yes, a different century.  We're in the Philippines."

I told him he had excellent English (which had been emphatically true for the first 28 minutes of our conversation), hung up, and praised God.

19 February 2013

Spit and sweat.

My shoes are still squelching, my hair is still sopping, Rooney’s earnest, hormonal guitar riffs still jangle in my ears. I just got back from another running date with the river in the rain at night, and before anything else I just have to record that the alluvial world is rich and fertile and wet and just lends itself to being alive in. Being alive in it, in fact, feels great.