Month: October 2011

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I had been paying $40.00 per month for the Clear internet service, and would continue using it if I needed it. My decision to cancel the account came after a couple of months when I did not use the service, at all.

I accessed my account through the web page, and initiated a chat with a Clear customer service agent. He advised me to call the Clear telephone number.

The Clear customer service agent on the telephone asked me all the same questions that the voice menu had asked, put me on hold for a couple minutes, and then asked me what I needed. I answered, “I want to cancel my account”.

CS Agent: Are you having problems with your service, asked the polite, Hispanic lady?
Bob: No. I don’t use the service and I want to cancel.
CS Agent: Why do you want to cancel your service?
bob: I don’t use the service. I want to cancel.
CS Agent: Please hold.

CSAgent:Please excuse the wait. Why do you want to cancel?
Bob: I don’t use the service. I don’t want the service. I cannot afford the service. I want to cancel the service.
CSAgent: Please wait for a couple of minutes and I can help you.

CSAgent: Thank you for waiting. I need to transfer you to another department. Please wait.

NewCSAgent: Hello. May I have the telephone number you are calling from (asked the Hispanic gentleman)?
Bob: Why not. If you don’t have caller ID, you could ask the previous agent. Since you are interested, it is 999-999-0999 (changed, of course).
NewCSAgent: Very well, what is your name?

Bob: My name is the same as on the account, and the same as I gave you previoius agent,. You can call me Bob (plus last name).
NewCSAgent: Very Good, Mr. Bob. What is the city of your birth?
Bob: Gotham City.
NewCSAGent: Very good Mr Bob. What are the last four of your social security number?
Bob: xxxx
NewCSAgent: Very good. How can I help you?
Bob: I called to cancel my Clear account.
NewCSAgent: Are you having trouble with your service?

Bob: As I told your previous agent, I am having no trouble. I want to cancel my service. I haven’t been using it, and I don’t need it.
NewCSAgent: I can definitely help you with that. Are you unhappy with our service?
Bob: I am not unhappy with the wireless service. I am becoming unhappy with Clear customer service not letting me cancel the account.
NewCSAgent: I understand completely, Mr Bob. Please wait for a minute;

NewCSAgent: Thank you for waiting. Is there anything wrong with your service that we can correct to convince you to stay?
Bob: The only thing wrong with Clear is that there is no way to cancel service. Please help me do that.
NewCSAgent: I can definitely help you with that, Mr Bob. Is there anything we can do to keep you as a customer?
Bob: No, Mr Agent. I don’t use the service. I don’t need the service. I cannot afford the service. I have given you three reasons why I am canceling. Do you need more?
NewCSAgent: I understand, completely, Mr Bob. Please wait for a couple of minutes while I proceed with canceling your account.

NewCSAgent: Mr Bob. Thank you for waiting. Before we cancel your service, do you know that you can transfer the account to someone else in the family, or to someone you know?  Wouldn’t that be a good thing?
Bob: I don’t know anyone who wants or needs Clear service. Please cancel my service.

NewCSAgent: We will give you a free month of service while you find someone to transfer your account to. That’s worth $40. Don’t you think that’s a good deal?
Bob: No. That is not a good deal. I am not in the business of selling Clear service. Just cancel the damned account, please.
NewCSAgent: You would give up the free $40?
Bob: I can transfer the account to you, Mr Agent. Don’t you think that’s a good deal?
NewCSAgent: Please wait, Mr Bob.

NewCSAgent: Thank you for waiting, Mr. Bob. Did I tell you about our latest specials?
Bob: I don’t want any specials. I can just have American Express refuse payment, or you can cancel the service.
NewCSAgent: I understand completely, Mr. Bob. Here is you confirmation number. xxxxxxxxxx
Bob: Thank you Mr Agent. I appreciate your help, and your effort in customer retention. You will soon be a manager.

CLICK!  As I hung up the telephone.

I understand the dilemma the customer service agents have. Under no circumstances are they to cancel an account. Their job is to keep customers happy, plus they may have an incentive to keep customers online. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep you paying.

Times are tough.

It Was Eight Years Ago…

Eight years ago, today, police officers rang the doorbell in the mid-afternoon. There were two squad cars in front of the house, and two police officers were requesting to come inside to talk to me. Demanding proper identification, I soon realized they were legit.

They asked no questions, but proceeded with the statement that they had heard from the DeLand, Florida police that morning. That sentence was never finished. My son, Matthew, was a senior at a college in that small Florida town, and I suddenly knew why I was entertaining two very respectful police officers in our living room.

Within a couple of seconds, I went through the initial thought that Matthew was in trouble, but I knew that he had never been in trouble of any kind, and why would the local police be at my door if my 21 year old son had been arrested in another state?

No, I knew almost immediately that the little guy had finally done it. I knew within those two or three seconds that Matthew had succeeded in killing himself. My son had left us on Sunday, October 26, 2003. He had hung himself with an Ethernet cable in his dormitory room.

His roommate had been at his girlfriend’s apartment all that night, and Matthew’s body was not found until Monday morning when the kid returned to get ready for classes. That is when the school administration was called, and when the local police got involved.

Matthew had been clinically depressed since high school, and only recently had stopped his medication. He was “tired of being sick”, and he didn’t like who he was. He was gay, and this undoubtedly played a part in his self-deprecation. He had at least one attempt at suicide while in high school, and we were in constant fear of a repeat attempt.

On our kitchen wall was a white board where Matthew had left us a message the previous month as he was leaving for school. He had written early that morning before we were awake, “take care of each other”. We still have that white board as it was his last written message for his family.

Clearly he was planning suicide. We had looked at his message, and lied to ourselves that he really didn’t mean it.

My wife, daughter, and I have gone through all the stages of grieving, but I got stuck in the anger stage for years. I might still be in anger. The hurt and guilt will always be there, too.

We withdrew from life for a while, and we have argued with God. How can God create a wonderful,  talented and smart person, fashion him into a homosexual, and then advocate prohibitions against the very activity and person He has created? This is one question I plan on asking when it is my turn.

Life goes on. Living is a tough thing, but we still have to go through it. My life is getting better, and I had forgotten that today was “the day” until my wife reminded me this morning. All the same, you never fully heal when you lose someone you love.

Matthew, I love you!

A Hero And Friend Dies

There are fewer and fewer veterans of World War II. They are old, and are dying of all the maladies that age brings. This last weekend, we said goodbye to my wife’s Uncle Bill. He was one of those people who lived during interesting times, and had wonderful and engaging stories to tell.

Uncle Bill was born in 1921, and enlisted in the US Army at age 17. We all agree that he most likely lied about his age, but he wanted to learn to fly. He went to flight school, and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Force on June 22, 1943. He spent the rest of the war as a test pilot, and was headed to the South Pacific to fly fighter planes when the war ended.

After World War II, Uncle Bill used his new knowledge and maturity to go to Georgia Tech, finishing his Industrial Engineering Degree in just three years and nine months. He financed his education with the GI Bill, and money he won playing cards. He was the state Bridge champion, and put that skill to good use

While in the Reserves after the war, he took the opportunity one day to buzz his home town, a small town in West Tennessee. The story goes that he flew his B24 bomber about 100 feet above the town, and his mother’s house. The whole town was much abuzz with that buzzing, but they knew Bill. I don’t think anybody had to tell his mother who that crazy pilot was that almost took the roof off her house.

Uncle Bill’s brother tells the story about the first car Bill bought. It seems that he didn’t know how to drive, but he figured that since he could fly an airplane, driving couldn’t be that difficult. He bought the car and learned how to drive it on the way home, running off and on the road until he got the feel of the machine. From then on, he drove a car like he was flying an airplane, pretty well attacking everything in his path.

While maintaining his flight status in the Reserves, he was put on active duty at the start of the Korean War. This time he flew reconnaissance missions in propeller driven airplanes with no guns for protection. Flying low and slow, this job was not a picnic, and was as dangerous as they came.

He loved flying like some people love coconut cake. He had stories that would curl your hair about his days as an Air Force pilot. In addition to his experiences in the wild blue yonder,  his life was filled with a lovely wife, two beautiful children, seven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. He was a much loved man.

He was my wife’s Uncle, and he was my friend.  I miss him.

That Old Dog Don’t Hunt

Nor does he do anything else. I am talking about Sam, the ancient canine we inherited from my daughter when she married and moved out. Parents always get the dogs and cats of their children,  and this speaks highly of the intelligence of our son’s in law. They married the girl, but not her mistakes. Parents get to pay for those.

Because of this, I am stuck with the laziest hound in the country. The little guy is 15 years old this month, and is starting to look every bit of it. It has always been obvious that poor Sam is not the brightest bulb in the scoreboard.

His bathroom habits are amazingly random. That’s why I take him outside every couple of hours. Not even Sam knows when it is time to do his thing. This dog knows no season, and will answer nature’s call whenever and wherever he happens to be, inside or out.

Sam is sort of clever when it comes to finding his way out of the area I have gated for him. We use a child’s expanding gate to keep Sam out of the den whenever we are not there. The old boy will sometimes find a way to push the gate out of the way if it is not secure, or to batter the gate down. Like all dachshunds, he is infinitely stubborn, and once he starts pushing, he will not stop.

Friends and neighbors think it is cute when I take Sam out for his constitutionals. We look like two old men, enjoying life, and taking care of each other. If only they knew! Poor Sam. He can’t even hike his leg anymore. Recently, he made a heroic try, but lost his balance and rolled down the hill. Poor Sam.

I am Sam’s Medicare program. The poor pup has thyroid problems, and a prescription to be administered twice per day. That’s why I feed him twice daily. Those feedings are the only time Sam will voluntarily wake up and prance around like a puppy. He has amazing energy around food.

Now that you know the bad side of Sam, surely you would think there is a good side. You would be right. Sam is the most loving dog in the world, and has never bitten an adult of child. It is even rare for him to growl.

That’s why I keep taking care of the old boy. He is still a loving hound, and one of this man’s best friends. Plus, if I am mean to him he may testify against me on Judgement Day.

Best Friends

It depends on what stage of life you are talking about. You can only have one best friend at a time, like in high school, college, graduate school, church, or even from childhood. If we are fortunate we can go through life having lots of best friends, each at a different time in our lives.

There is a line of thought that God sends you special people when you need them. These friends help you through the tough times of growing up, maturing, learning to live in the world, worshiping, and having someone to talk to when in need. I have been favored by God to have had many of those special people in my life who are there when I need them. God blesses us in ways we cannot imagine with friends.

Tonight while watching college football scores on ESPN, I noticed that the old alma mater was having a really sucky year. Now, alma mater is not tow-mater’s wife (from the Disney movie, Cars). It is the college where I spent so many wonderful, and trying years learning to drink beer and become an engineer. That’s where I met Pete, my best friend in college, and probably for life.

Pete and I have nothing in common. He is the prototype sportsman with his hunting and fishing and softball teams. I am the consumate nere-do-well, techie nerd who goes to sleep in the car while my buddies are out early in the morning fishing, or hunting squirrels. I could never muster the money for a deer hunting rifle, or I would have slept through that experience, too.

Pete and I trust each other, and have pretty much the same set of values. We were there for each other at a critical time in our lives. We met in freshman English class, the bane for freshmen as it was designed to flunk as many of us baby boomer kids as possible. It is downright scary what they would do to you in freshman English, like tell you that Robert Frost’s character in his poem, “Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening”, was having unnatural relations with his horse. “He gives his harness bells a shake to ask if there’s been some mistake…” Oh, those dirty minded English teachers.

We were each others best man, and have kept in touch, pretty much, in the forty plus years since those college days. Our wives are friends, and we know, and love their children. I was thinking about asking Pete to be my lead pall bearer, but he is getting too old for strenuous duty, not that he would be needed anytime, soon. I suppose we could get a life-sized cardboard cut-out with Pete’s picture in place at the critical time, and that might suffice.

So, I called my best friend tonight to find out what the hell has been going on with the football team. They have been downright embarrassing, lately.

Pete, being Pete, responded with his soothing words of, “Now, Bob, you know we never had a decent football team. But, the basketball team will be awesome!” Now, there’s a friend for you. He always tells the truth, and fakes it enough to make you feel good.

It’s nice to have a friend like Pete. He’s always the best!

Don’t Format The C: Drive!

Yep. I did it. I clicked “Format”, and had a period of instant nausea when I realized  what I had done.

Nooooo, I thought. Yessssss, said the “Format Complete” window.

So, how did I screw up? What would cause a computer professional to blow up his own machine? Well, you had to be there.

It happened while I was baby-sitting my two grandchildren. The little boy is three, and the little girl is eighteen months old. These are the sweetest kids in the world, sometimes.

While the two little wild Indians were ripping the house apart, I was trying to do some work with my laptop. I had one of those little 500 Gb USB drives for storing backup files, but Windows 7 was not seeing the drive all the time. Windows  recommended formatting the USB drive.

With little Thomas train cars whizzing past my ear, and a screaming little girl stealing her brother’s toys, I managed to get some valuable files safely off the USB drive. When I selected the drive to format, I picked the wrong 500 GB drive. The problem is that my laptop’s C: drive is 500 Gb just like the USB drive. This fact escaped me until about one millisecond after the fatal click.

Sometimes when things go bad, everything else goes down the tube, too. The Windows 7 recovery disks didn’t work, either.

Film, flam, damn, damn! 

No problem, I thought. I had upgraded to Windows 7 from Windows VISTA, and I still had the original VISTA recovery DVD’s.

Those damned things didn’t work, either.

I have just about had it with Windows. Whenever there’s a problem, it is like you have to start World War III to fix things.

So, what to do? I installed Linux in about one-half hour, and it works GREAT!

If I can’t come up with an inexpensive fix for my Windows partition in the next week or so, I will be used to working without it. Linux works just great, and is easy to use. Plus, it’s free.

Who knows what evil I can do with another operating system?

Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven…

But, nobody wants to die. That’s the wisdom of the people, and they are right. There are literally thousands of people who are ready for the rapture. The rapture can be seen as a time when you can go to heaven without dying.

Given that the chance of the rapture is imminent why should I have to die to receive some of the earthly benefits of such an occurrence?
I am tired of paying bills. I am tired of paying taxes. I am tired of putting up with the empty suits in Washington telling me how to live my life.
Shirking my duties may not seem to be the Christian thing to do, but, it is awfully tempting to assume that the rapture will happen before the bill collectors catch up. Is that insane, or what?
Yes. I do want to go to heaven. No, I do not want to die. Yes, I am really angry with the nation’s leadership and brain dead policies. Just how am I expected to eke out a living with the anti-business and anti-people policies issuing forth from the White House?
Dear Lord, Please take me now and deliver me from the idiots and mad men now in leadership positions in our fair nation. Thank for your promise of eternal life, and I pray that the Democrats have nothing to do with it.