The best exchange I’ve ever had with a Comcast customer service rep.

This time I last week, I was home sick AND neck-deep in my Momma-mourning. The only thing I wanted to do – like, seriously, the ONLY THING – was to watch The Good Wife through On Demand. Some sports something-or-other had messed up my DVR recording on Sunday night, because it ran over. (Good Wife fans know EXACTLY what I’m talking about, because it used to happen almost every week.)

Anyway.

Joe left for work and I settled in on the couch. Only, I couldn’t access that episode of The Good Wife. Something was wrong, the error message told me, but it should be corrected shortly.

I went to do something else.

An hour later, I tried again. Still wasn’t working. I tried to access a different episode of The Good Wife. None of those worked either. I tried another show altogether. No go. On Demand simply wasn’t working.

I logged onto my Comcast account hoping to message with a virtual customer service rep. Instead, I was told that there was an outage reported in my area expected to be fixed by noon.

I went to do some other things.

At 12:30, I checked my online account. Still down.

At 3:30, I saw that service had been restored. I went to watch The Good Wife.

I still couldn’t access it.

A new message appeared online saying that some people were still having difficulties with their service. Unplug the box, it said. Count to 30, then plug it back in. This will restore service.

It didn’t.

Now, I was heated. I accessed the virtual customer service rep and unleashed a little of that heat on him. His responses were like nothing I’d ever seen. Here are a few choice excerpts:

Best Comcast Customer Service Rep Ever

More Comcast Chat

Even though I was being so snarky, Francis never lost his cheerfulness. In fact, he would say things like, “We will be fixing it. We are a great team, Lara!”

Eventually Francis sent a signal to the box and that woke it up. I don’t have screenshots of this next part but here’s what happened:

  • LARA_ > It works! It works! It works!
  • LARA_ > Thank you, Francis!
  • Francis > Great!
  • Francis > Heaven touches us on that part!
  • Francis > Now you will be able to watch your Good Wife episodes!

I was sending Joe the screenshots of our exchange as it was going on, in part because my enthusiastic new friend made me smile. I can honestly say I’d never had a better interaction with a Comcast customer service rep EVER.

Funny post script to this story:

When I first realized that On Demand was down, I tweeted something about it. Five days later, I got the following response:

ComcastSean

It’s an interesting strategy – having the customer service reps tweet from what looks more like a personal account.

But, um, way to be on top of things, @ComcastCares. (Five days? Really?)

 

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Saturday with Sadie.

We have Sadie, my almost-10-year-old stepdaughter, for the weekend. This morning, we walked over to the Newport Restaurant for breakfast. It was less than a mile and a half round trip but Joe and Sades were dragging their feet. Afterward, we took Sadie thrifting at the big Goodwill on Kirkwood Highway, where we speed-shopped our way around the store because we only had about 45 minutes until Sadie’s first-ever eye doctor appointment.

Girlfriend has been convinced she needs glasses. Like, she’s been actively campaigning for them. All of her friends have glasses, she told us more than once. Her mom’s boyfriend’s daughter has them, too. She really, really, really needed glasses.

Eye doctor disagrees. Her prescription is so slight, she says, that Sadie should be able to see 98% of everything without the glasses. If we opted to get her glasses, they won’t do any damage. But she really, really, really doesn’t need them.

Sadie is crestfallen. “But I do really need them,” she tells us again. “I need the glasses.”

Our vision plan is fairly solid. It doesn’t help ME much, because my prescription is too strong (whenever I need glasses I’m looking at easily $300 a pair or more, and that’s WITH insurance). Joe fares better; his last pair only cost $165. When it comes to glasses for Sadie, I’m thinking it’s going to be at least $100. I brace myself for the estimate.

It comes to a total of $23.99 (plus another $10 copay for the exam). That’s less than $35 for the glasses.

We get the kid some glasses.

She picks out this very studious brown pair, which surprised me. I was eyeing up the blues and the pinks and other fun frames. “I like the brown ones best,” she informs us.

We get the kid some brown glasses.

Later, after two rounds of bowling with my friend Candace and her three little ones, and after a trip to Salad Works that Sadie requested specifically, she gets a call from her mom.

“Did Lara tell you I got glasses?” she says excitedly. “They look just like [her mom’s boyfriend’s daughter’s] glasses.”

Joe and I exchange a look. So THAT’s why she insisted on the brown ones.

The next several minutes of conversation center on the glasses: when they’ll be ready for pick up, how she they’ll need to be fitted to her face, how she can’t wait to tell her teacher that she got glasses, how she can’t wait to tell her mom’s boyfriend’s daughter about them, too.

Meanwhile, in the front seat, Joe and I are stifling laughter the entire time.

When I got my first pair of glasses, I was one of the only kids in my class who had them. And they were dorky. Simply having glasses, I mean, not just mine (though mine were SUPER dorky – clear frames, tinted blue at the top and pink at the bottom, which I selected because I thought it would look like makeup). They were not fashionable in 1986. At least not with the Caravel Academy middle school set.

But this kid –

It is ALL about the glasses. You’ve never seen a kid so excited to need get corrective eye wear.

Now we’re about to tuck in for some pumpkin spice tea and a family friendly movie. All in all, a lovely little Saturday with Sadie.

Strange things are afoot at the Purebread Deli.

The Purebread Deli & Cafe is this adorable, dog-themed coffee shop that also has really yummy sandwiches (all of which are named after dogs, naturally).  It’s a local chain, and there’s a location not far from my house. Even so, I don’t go there all that often. But I met an old friend from high school there for coffee a few weeks back, and tonight I was meeting a new friend for a hot beverage.

As I’m walking in – literally, walking in – I run into Ellen, a student from one of my creative writing classes at UD. She tells me that Michael, another student from that class, is parking the car. Then he comes in and it’s like OH HI and suddenly we’re having old home week at the Purebread Deli. He tells me that he and Ellen met in my class and fell in L-O-V-E because of that class. Which is totally adorable. I tell them that this summer, two students who took my class (but not at the same time) got married.

“Go teach a class!” Michael yells to me, as he goes to place his order.

“I make love connections!” I quip back.

So that’s a happy good thing, right? Right.

Later, as I’m lingering over hot beverage with the new friend, Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” comes on over the sound system, and my own breath catches.

This is the song that I watched Joe’s aunt Brenda sob to at his uncle Tommy’s wedding, about nine months after their father (Joe’s grandfather) passed away.

This is the song I listened to the day I found out that Marian was gone.

This is the song that I played at my mother’s funeral, the one that nearly destroyed me that day.

Tonight, I stopped speaking, mid-sentence. I lost my entire train of thought. It took every ounce of willpower to keep myself from crying. Right there, in the middle of the adorable dog-themed coffee shop.

I kept it together.

But guess what? When the song ended, and the next one began, it was the exact same song. Only, this version was sung by a different artist.

It was a total WTF moment.

I said, “What, are they doing an encore?”

My conversational skills deteriorated after that.

You probably know this song, but in case you don’t, it’s below (lyrics included).

And while I wouldn’t call this a happy good thing – the two versions of “Just Breathe,” how utterly random – I wouldn’t call it a sad bad thing, either. It’s just…a thing.

It reminded me how, at the funeral, our officiant Metty said something that – up until that point – hadn’t clicked for me.

My mom died in her sleep. She stopped breathing. And the song I chose to play?

“Just Breathe.”

The lost art of letter writing.

On Saturday, I tackled some dark, dense corners of the Jungle Room. What is a Jungle Room? you wonder. It’s this ill-constructed bonus room that used to be a carport. Several decades ago, the owners decided to turn it into more square footage. I’m dating this based on the solid wood paneling on two of the room’s walls, as well as the energy-inefficient jalousie windows on the other two. Anyway, the woman who owned my house before me used the room to house a bajillion plants and house cats. Between the plants and the paneling it totally reminded me of this room from Graceland (as in Elvis’ Graceland):

Graceland Jungle Room

When I first moved into this house, I ended up shoving a lot of stuff into the Jungle Room. Like, an embarrassing amount. It’s no excuse, but my mom comes from a long line of hoarders, and I unfortunately had inherited some of her tendencies. And if you used to follow my old blog you may have heard me talking about cleaning out or organizing the Jungle Room but guess what? Still not done.

Anyway.

Most of the purging I had to do revolved around A) unused craft supplies, B) stuff I’d been carting around forever, like a huge case of cassette tapes:

Cassettes

(P.S. I donated the entire lot to Goodwill. Didn’t save a single one!),

and C) paper. Or, more accurately, letters.

Remember, kids, the time before e-mail and affordable cell phone plans? When people used to actually mail each other stuff?

Sometimes I miss those days.

I hate my handwriting now. It’s too messy. It’s hard to read. My hand cramps up because it’s not as fast as my brain.

But back in the day, I used to write letters and send postcards like nobody’s business. I even used to do what I affectionately dubbed “envelope art.” These were mostly for the benefit of the Boy Who Shall Not Be Named (BWSNBN), during a very specific period of time in both our lives, but still. There were drawings and paintings and all sorts of stuff on those envelopes.

I digress.

During my purging in Saturday I went through a plastic shoe box full of letters going back as far as 1991. No joke. Letters from friends, letters from boys, letters from my grandmother, letters from my mother (those stung the worst but also made me really glad that I was once a minor-league hoarder if only because I still had her letters). There were cards, too, and postcards. Also some odd phone messages roommates had jotted down for me in college. And some printed emails from my very first account on UD’s old Pine system (Chambers, I’m looking at you!).

IMG_5505

I started to purge some – like cards from a college friend I hadn’t so much as emailed in more than a decade, and an old roommate who still sends me holiday cards of her family even though we haven’t had any other contact since the late ’90s. But most of them I couldn’t. Rereading them helped me remember things that had long since slipped from memory. They represent my history. They are the story of a very specific part of my life.

And then there was the not-plastic shoe box, filled with not only letters but also ticket stubs and programs and pictures and odd bits and pieces. Basically, the remaining mementos of the BWSNBN. Like a relationship in a box. And so help me god, I got rid of all of it – the tin foil sculpture he made me junior year in high school. Soap from a Motel 6 I stayed in while visiting him once during college. A Christmas ornament, a 1″ button, a game token.

All of it, gone.

Except the letters. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them (and a couple of rando pictures I’d kept, too). I mean, we’re talking about some of the most formative years of my life there.

Not long after my mom died, I started going through her massive collection of recipes (hoarder, remember?). She had so many of them in her own handwriting. I immediately texted my aunt and said something like, “Why don’t we write out recipes anymore?” (And yes, I get the irony in texting her that. I really do.)

Those are some of the most precious keepsakes I have of my mom. Every time I see her handwriting, it makes me feel closer to her. I don’t know why, exactly. Maybe because it’s so distinctly her.

I really need to start sending old-fashioned letters. Not just thank you notes or birthday cards, but serious, straight-up letters. Letters that hopefully the recipient will tuck away in a box (preferably archival safe, like the one I’ll be relocating mine to shortly) and have as a reminder of what once was for years to come.

If it’s you, try to cut me some slack on the handwriting. I’m a little out of practice.