Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Press One for Baseball, Two for...

I lost my cell phone about six weeks ago - I think it was at a Reds game. I wasn't too upset - it was a cheap phone with a pay as you go plan. I'm not a big phone person. I'd much rather be sitting across a table from someone drinking beers and having awesome conversations about life than talking into a little mechanical device where you don't get one hundred percent of communication, where you're missing the facial expressions, the hand gestures, the body movement. That's as much a part of communication as the words, maybe more, because words can lie, but unless you're a world renown poker player, your expressions and your gestures can give you away. Besides, I find it difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying over the phone because there are so many distractions.

I spent two years of my life without a phone. Not just a cell phone. No land line either. I had run up my cell phone bill due to what turned out not to be included text messaging to an outrageous amount and canceled my service because of what I felt was deception. I didn't bother to get another phone and I had a laptop for wifi, so I communicated by email. I tell you what, it was funny watching people try to deal with a person who had no phone. My favorite memory was when I was late to a Nats game due to a meeting at work (sometimes people call those happy hours). It was a giveaway night, and my friend Stephen didn't want to miss the promotion, so he went inside. Being used to my lack of phone, he waited for me at the food court that hangs over the main gate at RFK. When I arrived, he dropped my ticket to me. That's what people did before cell phones. I think there was a lot more thinking going on back then.

I didn't miss the first pitch or my promotion, and I still managed to meet up with him. Another time I was late I found him seated at the stadium. I used my legs and walked around looking for him. I suppose it's easier when you're only getting 20K on a good day, but I was able to use my sense of reason to overcome the lack of a phone.

That being said, it was tough to live in 2005 and 2006 without a phone. I finally broke down and got one, but I didn't get anything fancy because I knew I just wouldn't use it enough. I say "I'll meet you there" and meet someone there. It's quite a simple concept actually. Still, it is nice to say you're running late or something like that. I'm not anti-technology - I mean, I run a website fore Pete's sake.

So I lost my phone about six weeks ago and figured I'd have to pay full price for a new one and the area code would be 937 instead of Washington's 202, where I plan to go back to anyway, and I just didn't bother with getting another one, I thought I'd just wait until I got back to DC. Only my Reds fan friend Clark asked me if I'd gotten another one yet since we are probably going to meet up this weekend at GAB(p), and I thought, you know, I really should check to see if I can order a new phone. Funny thing about how I met Clark. Last year when the Reds came to DC for that terrible sweep (oh, the agony), I had four tickets to the first game and only three people to use them, so I sold one to a scalper. Clark, a Reds fan, bought the ticket from the scalper.

Anyway, so I find out today I can get a free replacement phone if I pay the shipping costs. I can even order it online. First, I had to suspend my account. Nobody's used the old phone because my account balance is still there, probably because the battery was about dead when I lost it (hence the reason a good samaritan couldn't call me to say he'd found it. At least that's what I choose to believe.) I order the phone, type in all of my information, and hit send. I get, we can't process your order now, call 1-800-blahblah. I find that quite irritating, but I make the call.

I am still suffering the after affects of the ordeal. I am emotionally drained. We all know the frustration a customer "service" call can bring. I call, and get a somewhat pleasant but kind of abrasive voice on the line - a recorded voice. I think her name is Simone. She tells me to say English for English, so I say English. Then she gives me a host of options to say. I hate those stupid voice systems. Why can't I just press a button? I have a generic American accent, not some nasally old twang you can find in the Midwest, yet I always seem to have problems with those systems. Didn't matter though, because they didn't have my option. They also didn't have an option for talking to a live person. I pressed 0 and Simone says, I know you want to talk to a live person, but I need to know what you're wanting to talk about. Say blah for blah, blah for blah, etc. I tried to say talk to someone. Talk to a live person. Talk to a customer service representative. Simone told me she didn't understand. Then she asks a question and tells me to say yes or no. I scream No. She doesn't understand. She doesn't understand the word no? She asks me something different. I scream No.

At this point, I've been on the phone for about twenty minutes trying to figure out what option I should say to take me to a live person. I continue to press 0, which only brings more questions from Simone. Now I'm starting to cuss a little. Ok, a lot. Screaming, actually. I want to talk to a live person! I want to talk to a live person! With some words in between those.

Finally, I hung up. I tried again. Same deal. So I go online to try to find a different number. I google Virgin Mobile lost phone. A different number comes up. I call it. I get a live person very easily. I talk to him, tell him my frustration, tell him I just want to order a new phone and it wouldn't let me do it online. Then he asks me what province I live in.

I thought it strange, but since my number is DC, I said DC. He thought for a minute, then said, oh, you're in the States. He was quite nice about informing me I had called the Canada line. Very nice, actually. Then he proceeds to give me Simone's number.

I finally decided to just make answers up and if I ever got a live voice, she could transfer me to the appropriate department. I got someone, some bimbo with no personality and a strange inability to write down numbers as you spoke them to her. She wasn't nice. She wasn't nasty, either, just sort of there, a voice on the phone.

Oh well, I ordered a new phone. Should be here in two days if she wrote down the numbers correctly.

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