A Long Night On Holiday Avenue

Posted: Friday, December 19, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Call it Karma, fate, coincidence or irony but no sooner do I write about the patience and perseverance of our pioneer ancestors during the long winter of 1880-81 than my own winter survival ability is put to the test.
The story actually began a couple weeks ago when I received a letter from Midcontinent Communications which said they had received a payment "envelope" from me on December 3rd but there was no check inside.  Oh, for cryin’ out loud, I thought, I must have been distracted by something stupid Regis and Kelly were saying on TVwhen I was making out the bills and forgot to write the check. I set the notice on the kitchen counter and went to get my check book. But I must have gotten distracted again by something because a while later Linda asked if I was through with the stuff from Midco and I apparently said yes so she tossed it.
Then, this last Thursday night..right in the middle of a CSI Miami re-run, the screen went blank. Linda came in and asked if my TV was out too. “Yeah, I said, I’ll call the cable company.” I reached for the phone and pressed “talk” but there was no dial tone.  I started to get an uneasy feeling and asked Linda if she’d gotten the mail today and if there was anything from Midcontinent. “Yeah, I think so,” she said, “I put it up with the other bills..why?” I didn’t even take time to answer..just grabbed the letter and ripped it open.  Sure enough, there were red letters at the top saying last month’s payment was not received and, to insure continued service, the new amount was due IMMEDIETLY!  Oh, my God, I’d forgotten to send a check to cover the "other" check I’d forgotten to send.  I’ve got to call them right away and beg their forgiveness..hoping they’ll accept my flimsy excuse that brain farts are quite common among the elderly and I’ll be happy to settle-up by credit card..only, please, don’t take my TV away.
That’s when I remember..the phone isn’t working either. We have the Midco bundle.  The COMPUTER is part of that packagetoo!  Oh, no..you don’t suppose??? Sure enough my laptop says “not connected!”
So, there it is; absolutely cut-off from the outside world. Hey, wait a minute..what about our cell phones? “Honey, did I pay the Verizon bill?” “Look in your check book for cryin’ out loud.”  Yeah, it shows I did. I hope I mailed it in. Now, what’s Midco’s number?I wonder if anyone is working this late at night..God, I hope so or I’m gonna go stir-crazy. It’s ringing…come on..come on.. pick up.A lady with a nice voice answers but before I can blurt out “I’m sorry..please turn us back on,” I realize the lady is a computer and I must wait until she’s done running through all the button-pressing options before getting to the one that will connect me to a real person. When it does, there’s another automatronic voice that says, “We’re sorry, all the lines are currently busy..please hold.”  Ten minutes later, I’m still holding and getting mighty tired of hearing Johnny Mathis singing “Sleigh Ride.” Finally a woman with an interesting accent comes on, asks for my address and Social Security number and I begin to spill my guts with this sad story of stupidity and forgetfulness promising never to be late again and pleading to restore my TV, phone and computer.
“Doug, Doug..calm down.” She said. “We’re having technical problems in your neighborhood.”  “You mean it has nothing to do with me? You didn’t get angry and cut me off?"“Gosh, no,” she said. “ In fact, since our records show you’ve always paid on time before..I’m gonna go ahead and take off that five dollar late fee. Just send us a check at the end of the month…only don’t forget to put it in the envelope this time, okay..ha ha?”   I was so relieved that I forgot to ask when she figured our bundle of communication would be restored. What do we do in the meantime?“Well, we could talk.” Linda said..then realized we would have “lots” of time for talking in the car when its just the two of us alone making our long annual pilgrimage to Arizona and back next month. “I don’t even have a book” she said. “Well, we’ve both been meaning to read the Bible from cover to cover, this might be a good time to get started,” I said..trying to bring a smile.
“I think I’ll just do a puzzle and go to bed.”  “Yeah, maybe I’ll find a couple crosswords myself,” I said.. knowing I probably wouldn’t.
 Linda’s cell phone rings.  It’s our neighbor, Alona..who also is bundled up with Midco. “Isn’t this awful?” she said.  “What are we supposed to do? I’ve run out of things to read and now even my cell battery is dying."
Finally, around 10 O’clock, Linda shouted from the other room. “It’s BACK ON!”  “Praise be!” I thought.Our long winter nightmare is over.
Don’t tell me that we don’t know what the pioneers went through.  

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