Friday, December 08, 2006

2 days late and $2 short

this is an audio post - click to play

Happy birthday, David-poo. You better not have another for at least a year or I think we'll both go insane.

(for the record, he did hear it on his birthday, and I followed the rules of not writing it until the actual day, whereas he figured out how to post my song to his blog on time only because he wrote it three days in advance. the big cheater.)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I had a very old cell phone. How old? Well, I've been back in Baltimore for three years. I lived in NY for nearly two. In DE for two before that. And I bought the cell phone my first season in DE. So old.

And the poor little critter had done its job well, and served me proudly, but was getting a little tired. I couldn't risk actually taking it out of my car (where a charger is) because it didn't hold charge for more than eight hours or so off the charger, and maybe twenty minutes of talking. I can't tell you how many people have called me at both my home and my cell phones and not been able to reach me because I was standing on my doorstep. So it was time to tuck that little sweetie into retirement and look for a new phone.

Now, if I'm only gonna buy a phone every seven years or so, I figure I should get the most up-to-date one I can afford, so that in 2013 when I look to have the computer chip imbedded into my head or whatever, I don't get as many crazy stares by the youngin's laughing at my primative talking machine.

And I hope y'all know I like to do a good thing and put a little goodness out into the universe when I can, so that motorola (RED) Razr was lookin' pretty good to me, and I've been with Sprint forever, and they're the ones that offer it. Completely out of my price range, until I remembered that Sprint has this offer when once you've been a member for a certain amount of time, you can get up to $150 off on a phone upgrade. Then add in some other random rebate, and we're talking a reasonable price for a new phone.

So I decided I would order it on my birthday, and I called. What I got then was an automated response ("blah blah blah higher call volume than usual, blah blah blah, we'll call you back in one hour"). That was about 10pm Thursday night.

The phone rings at 6am Friday morning.

Let me type that again, just in case you're an insomniac like me who can pretty much guarantee that if I'm conscious enough to order a phone at 10pm I will definitely not be at 6 the next morning.

At 6-bloody-AM Friday, the phone rings, and it's Sprint, wanting to connect me to a customer service rep. I convince them to call back at 8am, and this they do.

But then in trying to order the phone there's some computer glitch, and the poor girl (I swear, she sounded about twelve) can't figure it out, but will have her supervisor call me at 2pm.

He doesn't call.

At 4pm, I call back myself, now a little irked, and very tired. However, I've worked enough customer service to know it's not the fault of the poor schlub who got my called bumped to him randomly, so I'm very polite and calm. So this guy tries to answer my questions, but has some computer glitch, could I hold please.... fifteen minutes later, I'm bumped back to the very beginning.... go through the whole process again, this time getting to the point of giving out my credit card number to pay for the phone. Can I hold while the card is processing? And then fifteen minutes later, I'm back at the very beginning, no signs of an order placed, now talking to my third rep.

This goes on for TWO HOURS. Literally. I've now given my credit card number to two different people, spoken to six different reps (and had plenty of time to screw some things up in my flickr account, so I apologize if you're reading archives and find many images missing) and done a little random internet searching on my own while on hold.

At 6pm I say to the next person I speak to "Thank you for keeping me on hold, I see that Verizon's Chocolate phones are about fifty dollars cheaper than the one I'm looking at today, should I just give them a call?" and the guy panics, begins stuttering, and attempts to connect me to a supervisor. And we get disconnected.

He calls back a moment later, with the supervisor on the line, and she starts over from the very beginning with no idea what I'm talking about. And then she disconnects me, too. (I'm purposely saying "disconnected" not "hung up on" - I think this whole thing was equipment failure, not that they were hanging up on me). She calls back, we try again, and I'm disconnected again.

They didn't call back that time.

Well, damn, but I really do want this phone. I do not enter into these things lightly, I research a LOT, and that's the phone I want.

So I call back Saturday morning, and talk to a lovely woman who takes my order, is very sweet, and recommends I speak to "customer care" and she'll transfer me over. The guy I get there says he'll give me 800 minutes. Well, great, but that's a little like telling a goldfish you're going to put his bowl in a bathtub. I'm not using all the minutes I have now (that's why I have that plan, so I don't go over every month) so giving me more means absolutely nothing. That's all he can do, he says. I ask for a supervisor.

And get disconnected again.

Figuring they can't disconnect me if I'm standing in front of them (people have tried and failed) I go to a store near me. They have the phone, tell me the order was apparently never placed by the very sweet woman Saturday morning, wave a couple of connection fees and send me on my way.

But I'm not yet entirely happy, I've just had the contract read to me so many times I know I can return the phone in thirty days without major trouble.

So I wait a few days. I'm thinking I don't want to call at any "rush hours" or early in the week when folks are trying to clear up weekend issues.

So I call today, ready to battle (I've already decided I want another $50 credited to me)

And I get a charming woman who is shocked and appalled at the experience, is apologetic, is sincere, and without my saying another word says "I'll give you 10% off your bill for the next 24 months" (this would be more than the $50, so I was willing to stop here, but it would have been rude to interrupt, yes?) "and right now I'll take $50 off your bill."

THAT's more like it.

So welcome home, little guy...

You better be worth the battle.

(oh, and the pink? you'll see more of that this weekend...)

Friday, December 01, 2006

The (Official) Story of Aslan

In 2002, I lived near Buffalo NY and worked at a radio station doing the morning show. I lived on the top floor of a crochety old house, with neighbors in the bottom floor. My birthday happened to fall on Thanksgiving weekend, so my parents flew me down to Baltimore for the weekend. I flew back up on Sunday, December 1st, and ended up driving home from the Buffalo airport in one of the many blizzards of the year. The drive took about three hours longer than I expected, and by the time I was close, there was two feet of snow on the ground. Trusty Norman was quite cranky, and I was no chipper Princess myself. A car ahead of me kicked a rock back, and it cracked my windsheild all the way across.

Exausted, but pushing forward, I called my friend who was babysitting for my two cats Misha and Trevor while I was away to tell him I was close. He was a cat lover as well, and both my two liked him a lot, so I knew he'd want to know if he needed to go back out into the blizzard to check on them again that night.

"Great! Glad to hear you're safe," said Al. "oh, by the way, your neighbors cat was asking to come in, but they weren't answering the door. I let her into your hallway, and put out some of your guys food and water for her."

"Okay, great. Um. Al? My neighbors don't have a cat."

"Yeah, the sweet little white one."


"Oh. Well, then there's a strange cat in your house. Um. Sorry?"


I got home, trudged through the snow, which was nearing three feet in depth by now, and stumbled up the stairs. As I rounded the bend, dark eyes glowed back at me, and a tiny, shivering cat peered out, clearly asking if I could be trusted... and quickly deciding I could. A timid squeak was uttered, and almost immediately the hall echoed with the sound of purrs... It was bittter cold, even inside the hallway (which was probably around 40 degrees F, compared to the 10 degrees outside), but I couldn't let this strange creature into my house when s/he might have deadly parasites. I refilled his food and water, and brought out a blanket and cat bed.

I woke the next morning, checked the food in the bowl in the hall, and went into work, announcing that I'd found a cat, and please call the radio station if you're missing one. No one called.

I called the pound, and told them that I didn't want to give the cat to them if he was going to end up being killed - adult cats are adopted out quite rarely - but if anyone called looking for him, they could contact me. I continued the announcements on the air. One woman did call the station and say she was missing her cat Rosie -the little sweet white girl that Al had found was actually an orange male, but an orange so pale he was almost pink.

Hoping against hope, I picked up the little cat, and nearly dropped him again in shock. This cat hadn't just wandered off before the storm. He should have been between eight and ten pounds, and was closer to three, ribs sticking out painfully through his scraggly hair. His feet, which had been declawed, were bloody and raw. He drooled massively, but offered no resistance when I checked his mouth for wounds and found none. I took him to the woman's face, and watched her face drop when she opened her door. This wasn't her Rosie.

But something had to be done.

I went to the pound and said "whoever lost him either doesn't want him back, or doesn't deserve him. What can I do to make this cat officially mine so they can't come and let this happen to him again?" They knew me from my radio show (celebrity is a good thing) and were able to bend a few rules for me. He still had to be taken into "solitary confinement" where he would be given a vet check and watched for parasites. But I could come visit him as often as I wanted - and I did. It broke my heart to take him to the pound and leave him there - it goes against every fiber of my being. But I was back every day, and he grew to know my footsteps on the stairs at the pound. I had resisted giving him a name until I knew he would be mine, but had been toying around with two, one of which was "Dickens" in honor of the season and the book A Christmas Carroll. But one of the women at the pound said "We just love that little cat of yours, he looks just like a lion," and I knew the other name would be his, the one that I thought would give this sweet, timid little thing some strength and courage, the name of the great and terrible lion from The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.

The past two years have been more difficult than I thought possible. Many, many times I've come close to giving up - giving up and going back to an office job where at least the pay was consistant, giving up on my marriage and home, just giving up. Every time - really, each and every time - I've hit that wall and said "that's it," Aslan has come to me. Within seconds of my saying "I can't do this anymore," he's been in my lap, nose in my face, chirping away at me, giving me love and, somehow, giving me strength. And I've been able to go on. The other boys usually pile on pretty soon after, but Aslan is always first, the calm little soldier whose cotton-ball looks are beyond deceiving.

He was lost, and found me on December 1, 2002. I was lost, and he found me again and again since then. Happy, happy "re-birthday" Aslan.


Marriage is love.