Hard to Be Nice

I suppose that part of the problem is my aging. Still another part might be my impatience with others people and how they handle tasks. Whatever the cause, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to be nice.

My son Dallas called the other night and announced he’d received a refund check from AT&T in the amount of $424.97. His excitement was tempered with concern that the company might have erroneously billed his account. He’s made the payments but the bill has remained in my name, and as such, AT&T wouldn’t release any information about the account. He asked me to find out the status and let him know.

I began the process at 8:30 a.m. My naïveté led me to believe that by calling early I could beat the crowd. The first sound I hear after punching in the number was a recording. Oh, how I hate those things. It instructed me to punch #1 if I spoke English. The order set my ire on a low boil, but that’s a topic for another day. After a few more commands, I was placed on hold for “the next available representative.”

Soon enough, a person in customer service came on the line and asked how she could help. I explained to her that we’d received the check and wanted to make sure that no charges had been placed against our account. Then I told her we wanted to return the check if we weren’t entitled to it.

It were as if I’d thrown a chain across transformers and knocked out electric service to an entire section of the country. The woman had no idea what to do. She put me on hold for a couple of minutes and then came back to transfer me to someone else. For several minutes I waited, and when the line was answered, it was another CSR, and I had to repeat the same information. By then I was getting just a tad miffed.

I was placed on hold again and then summarily cut off. Spikes in my blood pressure caused my breathing to become momentarily erratic. Determined to get answers, I called again. Yes, I had to endure the same recorded messages and CSR contacts. Eventually, I was sent to another department that oversaw accounts. I again explained the reason for my call. The individual put me on hold again. By then the droning music that played was injecting a dull pain in my head.

As the folks at AT&T ran in circles and tried to catch their tails, I wondered aloud what I was doing. Here a company that was too big to be efficient was sending me a refund check for something about which I knew nothing and I was trying to send it back. I blame my parents for that. They taught my brothers and me to do the right thing, and most of my life I’ve attempted to do so. However, this corporation had made a mistake and when I tried to help, the turned what I call “snippety.” They were irritated that I’d asked them for help to correct their mistake.

Before long, another individual came on the line, and, you guessed it, I had to go over the story again. I was doing the same thing over and over and getting the same results. That process is called something. The person asked if she could put me on hold, and I lost it.

“Hey, I just want to make sure my account hasn’t been billed the amount of this check. Please let me know if that’s happened. Otherwise, I don’t care, and I’m over this.”

She came back with we don’t know what the refund is but that it was a refund from a checking account that ended in the numbers 4416. Now we were getting somewhere. Neither Dallas nor Amy and I have an account ending in those digits. What I surmised had happened was that some employee had credited our account with that payment and since service had been turned off, AT&T was trying to refund us the money.

The company had no idea to whom the money belonged. They instructed me to return the check via mail. Yep, I had to pay the postage to return their mistake. By the end of the event, I’d wasted more than 1 ½ hours, developed a thundering headache, lost my temper, and cursed the phone company. I did the right thing, but damn, it’s hard to be nice!

Cell Phone in Public--Damn!

I took my vehicle for an oil change the other day. Don’t give me a hard time because I don’t man up and do the job myself. I’ve screwed up enough times to know better than to work on a car. At any rate, I checked in and found a seat in the waiting room. Most folks sunk themselves down into the lobby furniture and either looked out the window or watched ESPN on the television on the wall. One couple, however, decided to spend their times revealing too much of their personal lives to the rest of us. When they weren’t hugged up, the two of them were jabbering on cell phones. They were annoying.

For most of the time, the male sat on the corner of the couch and talked to his friend. His language was crude, at best, and he talked with no regard to anyone else in the room. Miss Pleasant had no better vocabulary; the two of them cursed freely and dropped several “F bombs,” much to the displeasure of two women sitting in one corner of the room and to the disgust of males there.

The girl soon rose to take a smoke break. As soon as she exited, her boyfriend began a tirade about her. In rather unpleasant terms, he carped about her being a control freak who demanded too much from him. At one point, he referred to her as a garden tool, a “hoe,” and questioned why he even bothered staying with her. The rest of his conversation dealt with sharing drugs, dealing with women, and giving away a dog. They also griped about people who came in after them and left before. Never mind that those folks had earlier appointments or different types of work done.

I’ve grown weary of dealing with people and their cell phone conversations. In grocery stores folks walk the aisles and chat away while pulling items from the shelves. On too many occasions I’ve spoken to someone who passed and said something to me, only to realize that she had that Bluetooth piece stuck in her ear and was yakking with a friend. Then the individual has the gall to look at me as if I’m some pervert who is trying to hit on her.

In checkout lines, people infuriate others when they yammer on their cell phones while trying to complete transactions. They try to empty carts, retrieve a fistful of coupons, and pay for groceries with their attention divided between that task at hand and the latest gossip being shared. These cell phone addicts are rude to cashiers as they are too caught up with phone talk to answer questions with anything but nods or shakes of their heads.

On the road, cell phone use brings on drivers’ ire. Motorists stick phones in their ears and lose all driving skills. Cars poke along in passing lanes, and most often, the driver is blabbing on the phone. When these people have a phone in hand, they ignore such useless things as turning on signal lights or looking in mirrors before changing lanes. Their below limit speeds result in long lines of cars behind them, but these morons are oblivious to what their phone calls are doing to traffic flow.

Yes, cell phones are modern advancements that have made our lives better. Teens out for the evening have contact with parents, or maybe it’s that parents have contact with teens. If an emergency arises, individuals can punch a few buttons and help will be on the way. I get all of that. What I don’t get are folks who pull out phones to talk as they are backing out of their driveways. What conversations can be that important?

Someone asked me the other day what we did before cell phones. I told them we talked face-to-face or spent time with ourselves and our thoughts. Maybe the problem is too many people don’t like themselves enough to be alone. That’s sad.

Technology is a wonderful and necessary part of our lives. However, when it comes to cell phones, I long for the earlier times of rotary dial phones and party lines and face-to-face conversations between family and friends. Go ahead; call me old fashion. I’ll confess to it.