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At Your Service

Feeling special takes on new meaning for me when it comes from unexpected places.  Having two cups of coffee also helps me feel special.  Which is why when I got a call from my local cable company today, out of nowhere, I couldn’t quite make sense of it.  You don’t know me well.  But there are a lot of things that don’t make sense to me.  It goes beyond the standard why-do-planes-stay-in-the-air ponderence.  No, there are more important things.  For example, why can’t we get watermelon here in the Northeast all year?  See.  I told you.  Some things just don’t make sense.

This morning when the phone rang, I – well, let me back up.  My phone thinks it’s a person.  So when I get a call, it (she) does her best to announce the name of the caller.  It comes about as close in ability to enunciate as most call-center salespeople do in reading off a list of strangers.  (“May I please speak to Mrs. Ell-siszc-coah?”  “Um, ‘Mrs.’ is in Heaven right now?  But this is her daughter.”)  This morning, the lady-in-my-phone announced the name of the cable company which is also my phone company which is also my internet server.  Talk about your inbreeding.

Surprise.  It was a real, living human being calling me, not a recording of robo-salesperson.  He actually gave his name, which made me automatically do a mental calculation of unpaid bills.  Seems he wanted to offer me cable service.  I began to explain to him why I didn’t need it when that last draining of my coffee mug took full effect.

It is not hard for me to make friends under such conditions and I only hope he didn’t get fired for spending so much time on the phone with me.  I mean, it’s not often that a writer gets to walk a total stranger through the steps of finding every column she’s ever written that has somehow made it onto the internet (the great mind of our time) and while we’re on the subject, how do planes stay in the air?!?

We laughed, I explained why I didn’t need cable (no, I am not against TV, but my husband – different last name – has the cable in his name) which led to a long ethics debate over violence on TV and frankly, I thought I heard him yawn at one point.  “Are you yawning?” I felt I could ask, for by now we were making plans to have our families share Thanksgiving together – such a nice holiday, don’t you think?  And then I continued to reminisce about holidays gone by, detailing my late grandmother’s elegant outfits and complaining about how the fashions pretty much seem to favor those under 25 and did he have any idea – any idea at all – about the plane thing?

Turns out he was in fact yawning, and he proceeded to tell me he totally understood why I didn’t need to order any of the cable packages since he saw from his records that my husband is, in all likelihood, footing the bill for at least half his salary.  (This is due to some need he has to get nearly a thousand cable stations, this – my husband – the man who pretty much only watches Jeopardy, Law and Order, and football.  But I don’t judge.  Nor do I pay his cable bill, you can be sure.)

By now, with all this attention – the cable sales guy was still on the line – I was feeling beyond special.  And it was then that I remembered.  I remembered how surprised and special I felt a week ago when I received a gift in the mail.  Yes, it was all coming back to me now.  An unexpected present of sorts.

Now, phone still in hand, I sifted through my desk looking for it.  And there it was!  A check.  A check from the cable company, from a class action suit from years ago someone started at a time when I actually had my own cable service.

“I feel so blessed!” I told my new friend, whom I knew would share in my joy.  “They sent me a check – for FIVE dollars!” I cried with joy.  Remember, I was still metabolizing the caffeine.

And my new pal’s response?  “Zzzzzzzzzzz.”

Yup.  He was already that comfortable with me.

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