From ‘The Diary of a Curmudgeon!’

From ‘The Diary of a Curmudgeon!’

Since I haven’t enjoyed a three-day break from writing in God knows how long, I just did just that. So, instead of the typical Tuesday column, here’s a passage from my impending second book ‘Diary of a Curmudgeon.” Enjoy!


June 15, 2021

Can someone please tell me why a major corporation would be more than willing to treat you in a way that a (non-drunk) friend ever would? And if you have the temerity to call them on their heavy-handed boorish behavior, the representative will act like you just stabbed them in the thigh with a hunting knife.

This specific scenario started with Verizon, a company I’ve truly come to loathe, merrily signing us up for cloud storage that we didn’t want, ask for, or need. I already have over 256 gigs of storage on my phone and considering that hackers always seem to be a step ahead of the best corporate efforts, I don’t trust any cloud and I never will.

If God had intended us to put our data out into the ether he wouldn’t have given us flash drives.

I briefly toyed with the notion of calling those fine Verizon folks to say “thanks, but no thanks,” but then I remembered that would mean talking to “customer service” which is an oxymoron if there ever was one. So, I swiftly disavowed myself of that notion while chuckling aloud over that brief bout of insanity.

But since there’s certainly no such thing as a free lunch, with the Cloud service teetering on that expiration abyss, just like it is with a needy middle school girl, Verizon started barraging me with texts and popups begging us to stay friends. And they always seemed to appear just in time to obscure the screen as I was attempting to make a call, place a sports bet, or use the calculator.

It became so fucking annoying that I seriously considered calling customer service again, but I was, once again, deterred by the thought of waiting on hold while my new “best friends” tried the best to convince me that I should avoid talking to them at all costs. I figured that once the “free” service had run its course, my harrowing ordeal would come to a swift and merciful conclusion.

All I can say is, “What the fuck was I thinking?”

Because we’re clearly dealing with a form of corporate groupthink that’s utterly impervious to any form of rational and considerate human behavior. And sure enough! Just like Alex Forrest, Verizon issued their abundantly amusing version of “You’re not going to ignore me, Jeff!” via a 3:20 a.m. text, a time they knew they’d have my full and undivided attention.

And I wasn’t in a good mood to begin with because, yes – you guessed it – after almost a week without his vacationing father, Teddy decided to express his dismay by launching into regular bouts of the worst kind of mournful caterwauling.

How can one nine-pound cat be that fucking loud?

Finally fed up with his persistent yowling, I got up at 3 a.m. to pet him which seemed to assuage his fatherly yearnings, but when my cellphone exploded with the Verizon text twenty short minutes later, not only did it wake me up, but it set Teddy off all over again.

“Jeff! Why don’t you turn off your damn cellphone of at night? Problem solved!”

I’d love to! But I can’t do that for two reasons. I can’t remember if we’ve already covered this, but I’m the medical power of attorney for my 86-year-old father-in-law and my son frequently works the night shift at the fast-food emporium he manages.

Perhaps you recall the previous passage in which that same son called me at 3:30 a.m. because he forgot his housekey and I had to let him in. I certainly haven’t forgotten it. And if he ever forgets his key again…

The reason this on-call dynamic doesn’t fall to my wife is that life quickly loses all meaning and becomes barely worth living if she’s rudely awakened after midnight. I seem to be able to handle the lack of sleep with a little more grace.

So, since I couldn’t let the call go, I discharged an otherworldly groan, rolled over, and grabbed the phone from the headboard only to read, “We’ve deleted your Verizon Cloud account. If you change your mind, you have 30 days to reactivate it and access your content.”

This, of course, begged the question, even if one was convinced that a perfect murder was possible, where would one find a Verizon employee to draw and quarter at 3:30 in the morning?

So, I resigned myself to calling them later that morning only to discover they firmly believe in sleeping in. A telecommunication company that doesn’t open until 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time? Must be nice.

Then, after they stalked and harassed me for the better part of three weeks, now that I’m reaching out to them, they can’t bear the thought of speaking with me. How do I know this? I know this because their insipid auto-attendant stopped just short of threatening me with a restraining order if I insisted on holding.

The female digital voice also told me I could avail myself of their automatic system “which can solve most problems,” (Yeah, right!) or I could download their app and engage in even more pointless activities.

And if you somehow managed to persist past that point, the artificial lady comes back on, and in a clear case of an artificial intelligence being capable of expressing emotion, she disgruntledly sneers, “Alright! I’ll fuckin’ get someone who can help you.”

Perhaps she didn’t quite hurl the F-bomb, but trust me, the epithet was clearly implied. I was actually kinda shocked that whoever created that message didn’t begin to grasp the all-too-obvious tonal implications.

After another five minutes on hold, a cheery young woman picked up the phone at which point I explained that, though I fully understand she wasn’t responsible for the text, since she wouldn’t put me through to the CEO, my only real option was to bitch directly to her.

And that’s exactly what I proceeded to do!

When I asked her on what planet would any company ever send a customer a text at 3 a.m., after a protracted silence she finally said, “But it’s automatic!” To which I responded, “Then automatically send it at a more reasonable hour, or better yet, don’t sign me up for shit that I don’t want and haven’t asked for!”

To her credit, when I asked to have my name removed from any further texting or popup ad possibility, she did comply. I may have also explained that if Verizon was truly trying to aggravate their customers on every possible level, they were doing a bang-up job.

So now, with my previous Pollyanna propensities fully exorcised, please don’t believe that I believe for a nanosecond that my hard sell friends have given up on the prospect of further browbeating. And if they ever text me at 3:20 a.m. or thereabouts again, to say my response will be the stuff of an epic legend would be the most massive of understatements.

Fuckin’ idiots!

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