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October 07, 2011

In Which Something Odd Happens


SO! As the title intimates: Something odd happened.

Ftk electrical thing

See this thing? It is a big node-y box of electrical wire hook ups and mysterious magicness, like a HUB, or something. Okay fine. I tried to front like an electrical playa, but I don’t know what this little cluster of stuffs is. There are a LOT OF THEM in the world, and the electricity and cable and maybe phone things and all matter of magical modern-life wires and whatnot goes through them.

The signs all over them probably say, but I have never yet whipped up sufficient interest to read them. I don’t even know what it is called....Mysterious Energy Knobbit? What-ev. We have one in our neighborhood.

Heck, we probably have a buncha; it is a piece of generic scenery, and so I tend to look riiiiight through it, unless it is doing something at that very moment to call my attention, like, say exploding, or perhaps rising up in front of my child’s heedless bicycle as she yells over one shoulder and wobbles off the road, causing her to fall and scrape up her knees.

This one I have pictured above about has never set itself in the path of my personal child’s personal pink bicycle, nor has it exploded, so I had no idea it was THERE. I habitually looked right through it. Kinda like it was squirrels.

You know how you do that? Look through squirrels? Because the yard is full of them, and probably also full of bushes and weeds and rocks and whatnot, but who can pause and look with their eyes with such intensity that they notice every freakin’ squirrel? Sherlock Holmes, maybe, and he was a cokehead. So. Me? I am not Holmes. I am not a cokehead. Put a LLAMA out there. I promise to notice that.

Ftk yard llama

DIGRESSION: There is ONE squirrel I notice because he has a brain disorder; he likes to come up onto our porch and LICK THE BRICKS.

Then the dogs go BUH-ZERK, barking these hysterical high pitched frenzy yarps (Ansley) or these low wooooooooobling tornado warning bays (Bagel).

Both dogs, multiple times a day, become desperate to inform me that EITHER the armies of the damned have indeed risen and are coming across our lawn to crack my open my skull and snarfle out the delicate meat of my brainses, OR that same squirrel is licking the bricks again. One of those.

Ftk zombie squirrel

It is usually the squirrel.

You better believe I notice HIM, the brick-licking, dog-maddening little freak.

Anyway, I did not notice that power box either, until it went and did something extraordinary, which was, “Be attacked by a crazy person with a machete who desired to hack down into its tasty innards and yoink out all the copper wiring to sell.”

I hear this, I IMMEDIATELY think “Meth head.” I think Meth Head for two reasons.

First because this is SO not a good idea for a crime. A person who was NOT on Meth would have better ideas about how to steal. I am not on meth, and I had ten better ideas about how to steal as I TYPED THAT SENTENCE.

SECOND because the ODD THING that happened. I know, right? Copper wire-stealing meth head with a machete AND a brick-addicted squirrel with an oral fixation, and we are JUST NOW getting to the odd thing! Welcome to Friday.

So anyway, SECONDLY, I think METH HEAD because...wait for it... Wait for it... THE CUSTOMER SERVICE REP AT COMCAST TOLD ME IT WAS A METHHEAD.

Let us pause here to give my fellow Comcast customers time to recover from that information. Go on. Breathe into a bag. Pour yourself a stiff and fortifying drink. Fall prostate on your fainting couch and take a big whiff of smelling salts. Whatever you need. We will wait.

Ftk pearls

Ready? No? I can see you are not able to fathom this.

I cannot blame you, really. Let me say it again: I called Comcast to find out why I had no phone, tv, or internet, AND THE CUSTOMER SERVICE REP ACTUALLY TOLD ME WHY I HAD NO SERVICE.

Granted, it was TERRIBLY disturbing to know a meth head WITH A MACHETE was trolling around my generally bland and woodsy and peaceful little neighborhood looking to crack open things that might contain valuable things. Like, say, boxes full of wiring. Or, say, people full of healthy, transplantable kidneys.

But that was not the thing that put the most strain on my credulity.

It was that she responded in a complete sentence with actual information while using a POLITE---even CHEERFUL---tone. While I was still reeling from THAT, she gave me an estimated time when my service would be RESTORED.

Ftk boggle

Those of you who are NOT Comcast customers probably are not getting why the rest of us are so stunned that actual drool strings are falling onto our pants from our unhinged mouths, so let me explain how we feel about Comcast.

Usually, when something is surly, or hateful, or smells particular corpse-like, or is ruining our good time, or causes a violent allergic reaction that almost ends in death, or makes one suicidal, we call that thing, “Comcastic.”

Sample dialog ---

Person 1: Wow, I see what looks like a tidal wave of RAW SEWAGE bearing down on us, so within thirty seconds, we are literally going to drown and die in poop-infested waters. Also, in case we survive, and PS I really I meant to tell you this BEFORE we had all that sex, sorry; I may have Chlamydia.

Person 2: Comcastic!

I am so bedazzled by the light of a polite and helpful Comcast customer service rep that I do not think I have yet fully processed the part about the METH HEAD wandering my neighborhood. WITH. A. MACHETE.

Anyone else have COMCAST? Anyone noticed a SEA CHANGE? Or was this girl an anomaly? Should I buy more guns? Yes? What should I shoot? The squirrel or the dogs or meth heads WITH MACHETES? Do you think the Comcast girl was LYING? How would she know that about the meth head ANYWAY? Was SHE a cokehead? A CHEERY, POLITE cokehead? I am all aflutter.


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Take heart...she was new and hadn't read the manual yet. She'll either never do it again or she got fired.

Or...she was a temp who will never work again.

AHHH I spy with my little eye....

a fellow comcast customer.


Perhaps before you go out, you should check the price of metals at very local facilities, and then you should wear something else. For example, if you find that the spot price of aluminum is especially high today, don't wear an aluminum suit or even a foil hat. You can be sure that the people stealing the metals know what is most valuable that day, so you would have the jump on them.

I also advise going out dressed in your medieval knight's armor, because that could be worth up to $20 down at the scrap center. Unless you want to end up like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

"...advise against going out...." Get me copy editing, asap!

No Josh, you had it right the first time.

The knight's armor is the way to go---I will bet on full plate, a broadsword, and the righteous conviction that one is doing God's work against a paltry meth head machete ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.

Comcast lasted less than a year with me.

AT&T U-Verse *rules*. Monster TV package, Max Turbo 'Net, office phones, all in one, saving over 100.00 per month.

Just sayin'....

Until our city started fiber optic service, we had Cox Cable. They were just as bad. When we turned off our Cox service, the rep asked why we were leaving and I said, "we are switching so that we will never ever, ever never, never have to deal with Cox customer service or tech support, ever never again."

Josh, I don't know where you are from but down here in the South, we don't wear aluminum after Labor Day. That would be tacky. We switch to stainless steel until Easter.

The saddest part is that this story didn't strike me as odd at all. Just utterly Comcastic.

Yesterday I spent TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS buying some software that would instantly fix all the problems in my life. As soon as it was downloaded and AFTER THE CHARGE CLEARED MY CREDIT CARD, I get an error message saying my computer doesn't have the right stuff to use the software. Now I know how to describe how I felt: Comcastic. Thank you, Joss, for the useful addition to my lexicon.

We threw Comcast out of our house 2 years ago. I couldn't take it anymore. Please, can I pay more for the privilege of fewer channels and shittier customer service? Please? *ahem* So we have been happily living off of INTERNET TV (with internet from a non-Comcast provider) for 2 years now and have never looked back. Not once.

Had a Comcast customer rep ever told me that my service was out because of a methhead with a machete? I may have liked them more, actually. That's equal parts delightful and disturbing kind of crazy.

You had me at the brick-licking squirrel, Joss, and the crazy sentry dogs.

Copper theft is really big here. Summer before last some friends went to France for two months. When they walked into their home upon their return they found that thieves had stripped every pipe and wire out of the place, leaving THE WATER ON, to add insult to injury.

They did catch the guys, though. One of them foolishly left a, erm, deposit in the toilet (couldn't flush after, because they had already dismantled the pipes), and the cops got him on DNA. Charming, no?

No word on whether they were meth heads, though.

I just heard this morning (NPR) that somebody stole an entire bridge in Pennsylvania, probably for the metal. So there seems to be an epidemic of machete-wielding methheads in the East. We all should be careful!

Oh, and one important thing: if you're going to shoot the living dead, remember you've GOT to hit the head. Nothing else will stop them. Can't help you with the squirrel, though :)

Finally, someone who recognizes that squirrels are as big a threat as zombies. I have been saying this for years.

We too, noticed a change in the collective Comcasters that we believe could only be accomplised via electro-shock therapy. The old kind, like in Cuckoo's nest. I am not questioning it.

So funny, Joss, in that machete-wielding, methhead way. My Time-Warner reps would never behave like that, she said smugly, although something funny did happen with them this past weekend. I talked to two nice people with Indian accents and had no trouble understanding them. Then they put me on the line with an American and I could barely understand anything he said! Take me back to Marge and Jeff in Calcutta.

Have you considered the possibility the machete-wielder might have been a crazd Comcastic customer?


I think it is the advent of AT and T universe thingy----I did not REALIZE but yes, now that is available where I live. Until 3 weeks ago, it was COMCAST or nothing. Or COMCAST and a dial up modem.

I am not a dial up kind of girl. :P

I do not have ComCast, but I will gladly pit their customer services reps against our Time Warner Cable reps here in NC any day. Our reps cannot even recognize that a problem with their service exists, much less communicate when/where/how it may be repaired, resolved or restored.

Copper theft is plaguing our area as well. The majority of thefts are large air/heating units from churches. I guess the thieves justify that the saintly among us could suffer heat/cold a few hours a week during their religious services. But, my personal favorite stories of copper theft are the ones where the thief dies from high voltage jolts because the moron (or maybe meth head) thinks it is a good idea to screw around with live voltage. All Darwin Award winners.

I agree with Judith...the customer service rep will most likely be fired. Except I think she will be fired for legal reasons. She said "meth head", not "alleged meth head."

Joshilyn, pack up the whole family and come live with me. Room for your whole family, plus dogs and any zombies that sneak into the moving van.

I fervently believe you're a genius, if no one has told you that today.

A local man and his fiance went out copper harvesting a few days before their wedding. Where did they harvest? You may ask. Telephone and power pole's copper grounding lines were their choice. They were caught when the local scrap man reported them to the authorities. How much was the copper worth? $20. Their excuse: We needed money to pay for the wedding.

Geez Louise, Peach.

Stories like that force us to remember that the average IQ is 90.

A few years ago, a local electrical supply store - HUGE warehouse - was broken into. Someone actually cut a hole in the (metal) wall big enough to walk through and stole entire reels of copper wire. We're talking 6 foot high reels. Thousands - maybe tens of thousands - of dollars worth of the stuff. Then they leaned the metal wall back in place and it wasn't noticed for two days.

Brick licking squirrel? Maybe it's a friend of the rabbit Bagel slurped.

I see your Comcast and raise you (and a glass) to AT$T! Don't make me grab my pearls!
I have just been through an amazing Comcastic experience with AT$T.
THEY e-mailed me an offer: 14.95 a month to use U-verse internet. Damn Sam! That beats the pieces out of 37.00 a month for DSL so yeah...I went for it. Don't use TV so just the internet and my land line thank you.
Simple enough right? Except you have to hook up all the stuff and install it. It's like putting pants on a squid.
Long story short...I get a bill for my land line and a separate bill for U-verse. Land line okay. U-verse 187.00. Far cry from 14.95.
So I call and call and call. Finally got that cleared up I thought. And the nice rep told me AT$T was just getting greedy! Can you believe that? I asked him if he'd get in trouble for telling me that.
Yesterday I got a computer voice calling my cell phone telling me I had not activated my U-verse account.
I fear I have not heard the end of this.
I'm glad YOU are having a good relationship William. I figure since AT$T and Disney own the world someone should be happy.

COMCAST: Thank you for calling. Our wait time is currently more than five minutes. Push one if you;d like a customer service person to call you back. Otherwise, please hold.

HANK: I'm holding, you bet, putting you on SPEAKER. I CAN WAIT.

COMCAST: The current wait time is longer....


Finally, they answer and I say: I need Showtime.

They ask me a MILLION questions.

Then they say--that's the super-duper wowza package, that'll be a million dollars. (Or so)

I ask: Is there any way it can be cheaper..?

Them: Well, let me check. Hmm. Pause pause. How about ten dollars a month?

HANK, thinking: Oh, see, that's suddenly sounding cheap. SOLD!

Hank gets Showtime..then thinks: TEN DOLLARS??? A MONTH?

(And yeah, Joss..you just got lucky.) xo

Joss, you are amazing. I am so glad I wasn't drinking anything as I read this! Or Jill's reply (thank you, Jill - I keep forgetting that VA is in the south, and who knows what fashion faux pas I might have committed without your warning!). We've been reasonably pleased with Cox so far, which is probably good. "Cox-tastic" just doesn't sound, well, appropriate . . .

We have the same dog-maddening squirrels - they drive me crazy just because of all the barking it causes!

I feel inferior commenting here - everyone is extremely witty.

Love the blog, just started reading!

Too many hilarious things to mention in this post. But I LOVED "Welcome to Friday." And also--I am stealing (from you) the pearls photo. Thank you.

STL Cardinal fans are feeling kindly toward squirrels. One skipped across the plate the other night while the Cards were at bat and we came from behind and won the game. A local screenprinter is selling "Rally Squirrel" t-shirts. Hopefully Phillie won't have a Rally Squirrel tonight.

Charter was our version of Comcast back when they were the only game in town. As soon as ATT Uverse was available I jumped at the chance. In the beginning if you had a problem you talked to a real person and received a follow-up call the next day to make sure all was well. Now you get the mechanical voice that never understands my voice.

We had a Darwin Award winner across the river in IL this summer. Stole the copper from a power substation and got fried in the processed. He lived for a short while. For Sale signs are disappearing from subdivisions because it is an invitation to copper theft.

Salvage yards are complicit in these thefts with their no-questions-asked purchase of destroyed a/c units and such . . . maddening!
Barking dogs were cited as a reason for not allowing Girl Scouts to sell cookies in their driveway in a St. Louis suburb. I'm thinking, put the dogs in their houses, and let people buy cookies . . . but what do I know.
Those electrical boxes make me nervouse. Kids in Sugarwood used to climb on them, sit on them, jump off them -- I kept thinking . . . electricution . . . but they never got hurt.

A squirrel story from my niece in St. Louis who feels none too kindly about those rodents:

She has been trying to grow a patio garden in containers for over two years, but the gangsta' squirrels from the hood just won't let the plants be. Nothing is off limits to these criminals. Tomatoes, flowers, shrubbery, herbs, are destroyed by the gang enforcers. Nothing scares them away.

One day in July she walked out the back door of her duplex and looked at her neighbors deck. There lying on it's back was a huge squirrel. At first she thought it was dead, but as she went to take a closer look, it's eyes opened. It seemed to taunt her, as if saying, "I'm the boss. This is my turf, and you can't do a thing about it."

Thanks for a laugh! I've got a couple of cat-maddening squirrels that come around my balcony. They know EXACTLY what they're doing.

As for Comcast, a few years back when everything went digital, the Comcast guy arrived to hook up my new box, only he'd brought the wrong box, and he couldn't figure out my remote control situation. He told me to call customer service for help! He might as well have been a meth head for all the help he was to me...

I would agree that the most bizarre part of that story is that you talked to a REAL PERSON at Comcast.

But it also made me wonder, how does she know it was a machete? Is she also a CSI that came and analyzed the slash marks? It wouldn't be that much more of a stretch...

No Comcast in Canada . . . so far. But don't fret we have Canadian cable/phone companies who are just as fun. I switched from BC's biggest phone company (Telus) a couple of years ago and they still phone and phone and phone to suck up to me to come back to them. With Telus if you have any problems with your phone of internet, their answer, after an hour on hold is always 'you must have an equipment problem, our system is FINE'.

I am with a company called Shaw now and when you have a problem you phone and leave your phone number and they call you back, usually within 10 minutes. Awesome. And they aren't condescending at all when I ask stupid questions. I did get a recent letter from them saying they are changing systems to something fancier and I will have to get a new tv and new cable box or switch back to basic cable. I am thinking that sometime in the near future I may go tv-less.

In the late 1960's I lived in a small town, Gold River, BC, this town was planned and built in its entirety in the early '60's and the whole eletrical and phone system was underground. No power poles at all! But those green boxes were every block or so. We had one in our front yard, about 5 feet tall and yep, we climbed on it, jumped off, etc. We all thought our yard was special because of it. But no zombie squirrels, do cougars count?

Here what I think happened:

Comcast Customer Service saw that there was an issue in an particular area, so they called the lunch room and asked for volunteers to man the phoes for a couple of hours while Everyone in the World called to report an Issue and demand to know When it Would be Resolved. (Yes, I work in Customer Service. What's it to ya?) The cheery person you talked to had never dealt with The Public before and did not know what a pool of sharks she had stepped into, so she told you what you needed to know - believe the truth will set you free, plus what she heard at coffe break - and went on to the next call. At afternoon break, back in Data Entry, she told her co-worker, "You know, I don't know what those Customer Service people complain about, like, everyone I talked to was completely, like, fine, you know? Geesh, my job is MUCH harder than that."

Comcast abruptly disconnected my service once. They sent a technician, who arrived promptly at the end of the 4-hour window, to investigate. He held up something that looked like a key and said "Apparently, we sent out one of our dyslexic technicians the other day. He was supposed to disconnect service to Unit 1101. Instead he disconnected your service at Unit 1110."

*snort* I have never had to deal with Comcast, but I've heard enough about their Comcasticness to have boggled right along with you. I am willing to bet that it actually is the arrival of AT&T as an option that has scared them. People are probably switching in droves.

As for the guns, I'm tempted to tell you to shoot all of them: squirrel, dogs AND meth heads. BUT I think I would save the dogs, and shoot the squirrel and the (I hope singular and not plural) meth head. And just in case the Comcast person IS a sign of the apocalypse, maybe stock up on canned goods and batteries.

I should have posted this earlier today, but didn't think about it. My husband and George Harrison (the wildlife writer, not the Beatle, I'm afraid) jointly made a DVD called Squirrel Wars for PBS to use as one of those incentives to donate. It's hilarious, especially if you want to see squirrels defeated, by gum. The focus is on keeping the wily rascals out of birdfeeders, but it's funny, even if you don't feed the birds.

The squirrel's voice, by the way, is actually my husband's, speeded up so he sounds ridiculous.


I'm feeling pretty lucky in that Comcast has been generally civil and prompt the last few years. And that we haven't had to call very often. But the reason we have DSL from the phone company is because the Comcast rep was so blindingly rude to my husband when he asked about internet service

I am thinking that Evalyn is a genius...YES...a certified genius. That is EXACTLY what happened. I do not doubt her powers of reason. Its sounds too much like fiction to NOT be true.

Joshilyn, I am so relieved you are on it. Thank god.

Karen, I enjoyed the little clip with the soda bottle trick so much that I was all ready to ask my library to order it for me, but surprise! They have it! -- I've placed a reserve request!

I had a four-hour lunch today with a retired teacher friend and another who is looking forward to retirement in about five years. Stealing from the Peace Corps, "the hardest job you'll ever love." Our retirement is set for fairly early retirement ages, because it's that hard. I compare it to being a trapeze artist. It takes all you skills and energy to keep going. Great lunch at Macaroni Grill -- a free lunch offer, and a free dessert because my birthday two days ago, free sample of their new wine (delicious); I only paid for my coffee and (yes, Elaine) a decent tip for the young man waiting on us. We all also encouraged him in his plans to return to college. I suspect that waiting tables is also a job better done when young.
Hate AT$T also, which is my only choice for a land line, but I loved canceling my cell when I took the AAA recommendation to get Consumer Cellular.

Joshilyn, have you been listening in on my puzzlement lately? I've made several calls to various companies and organizations that would, under 'ordinary' circumstances, be ordeals of a war of exhaustion and attrition with clueless, rude, or non-English-speaking 'customer service representatives'. Oddly, each call was answered (at least eventually) by a polite and friendly human who spoke clear English and provided clear, prompt and accurate answers. WTF??

But, Comcast and AT&T?? I've never gone near 'em. No inclination for corporate torture here.

Srsly, I imagine that the machete wielding meth head was prolly just a pretty good guess that made you go away. Lookit Comcast customer service winning!

There's a ridiculous link between methamphetamine users and metal theft in Florida. There are task forces and Intelligence Lead Policing units dedicated to it.

The brick licking deviant needs its own youtube channel. I want to see too.

Ha! She was so cheerful, and she *knew* that it was a machete-wielding meth-head because...

IT WAS HER! And SHE WAS IT! Nothing else explains both the knowledge and the cheerfulness.

She was TOTALLY lying, which is easy to do with a smile, and now she's the subject of your blog so she's totally loving you right now!

I call Comcast all the time, and I must say their lies and false promises sound so much nicer from the cheerful customer service rep. Especially when she helpfully adds "and now I'm crediting your account for today's loss of service".

Joshilyn, you are Comcastic and I mean this in the best possible way. You write exactly as you speak and I know this to be true. I was so happy to spend time with you in Salem and I'm sorry you're so misguided as to live in the South but there it is.
Someday we will walk together again in New England making snide and humorous comments and chatting gaily as we inhale the crisp fall air. I wax nostalgic.

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