Tuesday, August 4, 2009

July 27, 2009

We trudge to the hotel lobby for the free breakfast in the morning. It is surprisingly good. Coffee, juice, eggs, sausage, cereal, pastries, waffles, fruit, yogurt. We all choose our favorites and sit by the window overlooking the pool. It is 6:30 and we have plenty of time to eat before we have to get to the house.

Dad, don't forget your doctor's appointment. We all stop and stare at each other and then down at the empty plates. My father and mother groan. He was supposed to fast for a blood test.

We roll into the driveway about 7:30. The guy is there working on the sewer hook-up. He is finished, except for the plumber, who should be there soon to hook up the new pipes to the house. I load up the van and rush to the dump first thing. When I come back, my dad takes the van to the doctor. The oriental rug is still in the living room. We did not sell it. There is also a pretty blue oriental-style rug in the office. We forgot about that one. Too late. We have to get rid of it. I roll it up and carry it down to the road with a "free" sign. I start to spread it out by the road and a car nearly slams into the city water inspector truck, who has just pulled up. The lady hops out of the car and grabs the rug and stuffs it into her car. A "thank you" drifts out behind her. Off she goes. It is dangerous stopping on 135.

Aunt Leila and Uncle Jim arrive and we roll up the oriental rug in the living room. This is about 13' by 15'. My dad comes in from the doctor and I back the van up to the front window. Jim and Leila and I heft the rug out the window and yank it into the van. It gets stuck. We get ropes and use leverage. We heave. It moves. We sweat.

They tie the back door to the van down as best they can and drive it home. They are gone a long time and all I can see are huge piles of items that still need to go to the dump. I pace.

They come back and Jim and Leila and I take two loads to the dump. Then they help clean out the van. They pull out a vacuum and we spray it down with febreeze and by the time the man shows up to look at it, you'd never know we'd run at least three loads a day to the dump for the last nine days (except Sunday). The man takes it for a test drive and brings it back. His head is shaking and his mouth is set in a frown. "This van has so much wrong with it you'll be lucky to get $500 for it." He then proceeds to point out every minor little problem, like the flashing lights on the dash, the lit "air bags" light, the grinding noise that is probably the exhaust system, the three bald tires, the dent on the side, etc. Picky, picky, picky, I say.

"So, are you going to buy it?"

He snorts and backs away, shaking his head. He jumps into his own van and locks the doors before backing out.

Good. We didn't have the title anyway.

Charter Communications agreed to come disconnect the television boxes and shut down service. They'd be there "sometime on Monday" and would give no closer time frame. We'd been there since 7:30am. It was now ten after five. We had no chairs. If we sat outside we'd be eaten by bugs. I used my cell phone and called Charter. If the boxes did not get turned in, my parents would be charged. I finally got through the maze of "if you want to talk to us push a button, now push another one, now another, now another, now another" and finally got a human. Well, it sounded like a human. It seems "sometime during the day" means from 8am to 8pm.

I asked if they could tell me when the service person would get there. She couldn't tell me. Sometime before 8pm, she supposed. I mean, please. It is 2009. It is a COMMUNICATIONS company. Are they seriously trying to tell me that at 5:15pm, they cannot call the tech and ask him how much longer before he can get to our house?

Paul Allen would be horrified. They left me on hold for ten minutes. I hung up and called back. I asked for the supervisor. He was curt and didn't seem to care. I explained again that the house was empty, that we had no chairs, that my parents were in their 80s and having to stand, that we had been waiting since 7:30 am and asked if he could please call his service man and find out when he could get there. (If there was time, I could run my parents back to the hotel and come back. If it was going to be just a few more minutes, I would offer to stay and call them to come get me when Charter was through.) He said that the longer I explained these things the longer it would take for him to try dispatch again and that he'd already tried once with no luck.

I offered to make the call on my Verizon phone because it seems to work quite well. But no, he said he'd try dispatch again and that we'd just have to wait. I gave up after 45 minutes of waiting on the phone. I cannot believe there is a company in this economy, that is so completely insensitive and brazenly anti-customer service. It made me actually admire the call centers in foreign countries. All of you who have had any problems with Charter Communications, save yourselves. You have other choices. This is America. You can switch providers (providing you aren't under some sort of contract) and do not have to put up with it. But then, that is just my opinion. I'm sure there might be people who are pleased with Charter Communications. I just haven't met them. (Note to self: check your 401k portfolio to see if you own Charter Communications and sell)

We had pizza in Hopkinton and sneaked back to the hotel in the rental car. I talked my mother into letting me take her computer with me on the plane. My dad has two check on bags and two carry-ons. I have one check on bag and my own computer bag and my mothers and my CPAP machine. We got everything ready to go and fell into our beds. Well, my mother fell into her bed and my father fell into his bed and I gingerly lay down on the hid-a-bed couch. I settled into the bar that slices into the back and closed my eyes, but this is the second night with the bars sticking into my back and I could not sleep. I longed for the rum but it was gone.

I waited for dawn.

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