Keret and Steek

Two women whose literary opinions I esteem told me to get Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years.  I eventually did.  I now recommend it to you, delightful short essays, each two or three pages long, each one a gem.  I found myself laughing out loud.   It felt strange to recall I once had a sense of humor, was not always this ball of aggravated nerve endings who sits clenched before you today.

Upstairs, or across the air shaft, the Human Theremin just began practicing her shaky soprano trill.  That high strung register is my least favorite range of the human voice, and her repetitive exercise is, I’m pretty sure, the most hideous use for that shrill tone.   She sounds like a Victorian hysteric swooning, over and over and over.   But I digress.  

The other day I was on the phone with my cellphone provider, T-Mobile.   They had problems with their service, and with their customer service, and sent me texts nobody could explain, and then abruptly cut off my internet service and data.   I spent hours on the phone with their representatives who were busy helping other customers but apparently there was no help for my situation.  

In the car one evening, I was finally talking to someone intelligent and proactive over at T-Mobile.   She was very nice, very smart, had looked at the mishmash of my recent customer service calls, apologized for the series of apparent screw-ups and network failures and told me she’d solved all the problems, zeroed out the balance, restored the improperly disabled data and internet services, was very sorry for my agggg….

“Hello?” I said “Sharayah?”  

Seconds later I had a free T-Mobile Msg:  

We apologize, your call with Sharayah (23530) from T-Mobile just dropped.  You will receive a call back shortly. Thanks for your patience.    

I read it out loud to Sekhnet, who’d heard the end of my delightful call with Sharayah.  

“Assholes,” she said, and I pointed out that they were a German company and, therefore, most likely, Nazi assholes.  

She’d had similar problems with her provider, Verizon, and we concluded once more that the corporate personality leaves a lot to be desired whether that corporation is Nazi, American or transnational.

An hour or two later the patience that T-Mobile politeness bots had thanked me for was gone.  I texted back “Hello?”  

T-Mobile was once again lightning fast with a response:

Sorry, this service is temporarily unavailable.  Please try again later.  

This too I read aloud to Sekhnet, with predicable results.  I probably used the word “motherfuckers” in some connection to these automated Nazi dickheads.   Thinking back, a lot of what happened later was simply my fault– I’d wound her up.    

A couple of hours later I called T-Mobile again, again from the car.  This time Sekhnet was driving.  After a very short wait, no more than five minutes (recent hold times had been up to an hour, due to the super popular iPhone’s recent emergence on the T-Mobile Nazi network),  I had another lovely, very sympathetic T-Mobile representative on the line.  

She was the second coming of Sharayah and she was able to read me all of Sharayah’s notes.   I should not be experiencing this problem, she told me reassuringly, it was a stupid error… someone had simply not inputted the proper order.  She began to apologize as she typed more notes on my account.  Suddenly Sekhnet, hearing my silence, had had enough.  

“T-Mobile sucks!” she barked, almost as loud as that inconsolable Tourretic German Shepherd next door.  “Tell them their service is complete shit!  What a bunch of fucking useless assholes… their fucking network is a piece of shit!   Fuck them!  Fuck T-Mobile!”  

It was hard to hear the kind young woman on the line apologizing to me over this outpouring of righteous passion.  

I asked the girl at T-Mobile for a second.  I told Sekhnet, with carefully modulated snappishness, that I was on the phone with T-Mobile.  Then I added, in a stage whisper straight into the phone, that a very nice, intelligent woman at T-Mobile was straightening everything out for me, the long tech nightmare was, hopefully, almost over.  

Then suddenly it all got to me, the restraint I’d been showing in recent days when two long-time acquaintances had revealed themselves as rabid by tag teaming me with snarling emails about what a wimp I was to complain about some innocent and completely inadvertent repetitive ass-dicking.   “As if any of us had never been, figuratively, fucked up the ass!” their terse emails strongly implied.

Suddenly I wanted to be compensated for this long ordeal with fucking T-Mobile.   Reparations was all I could think about.  I told this woman I wanted money refunded to me.  I suggested a month’s fees would be about right, as a sign of good faith from T-Mobile.  

She wasn’t authorized to do it, but said I was right to feel that way, she’d feel the same way — and she thought T-Mobile did owe me some money.  I appreciated her saying that, they so rarely do.  She told me she’d have to get a supervisor, someone who could give me some money.  She promised she’d stay on the line until one picked up, but then forgot to put me on silent hold as she had thoughtfully done, at my request, when she’d put me on a brief hold moments earlier to find Sharayah’s notes.  

A few blaring bars composed by the humorless Josef Mengele, MD, played over and over.  Then Josh was on the line.  Josh was a supervisor, very grateful that I’d been a loyal T-Mobile customer for twelve years.  He was eager, he told me, to make me completely happy.  

I told him my story in some detail and then spoke the only language these Nazis understand: money.  I wanted monetary compensation for my recent run around, in light of my twelve years of, heretofore, thankless loyalty to T-Mobile.  He said he understood.  He then offered me ten dollars off my next bill.

“Josh, if we were friends, and I’d done something very aggravating to you that had cost you many hours of your life to fix, and I offered you ten dollars, would you consider that fair, or an adequate show of friendship?”  I asked the supervisor.  

“Yes, I would,” he said cheerfully.  

“Well, you’re a much nicer person that I am, Josh,” I said with ill-disguised bitterness, with malice actually. “To me ten dollars from a multi-national corporation feels like someone peeing on me.”  

Josh then affably pointed out that the internet and data services I received from T-Mobile, and had not been able to use for only the last few days, were provided free, as a courtesy by T-Mobile.  

I countered that the generous 500 MB of data per month were part of the plan I paid T-Mobile $50 a month for, therefore it was hard for me to see the service as free.  We discussed this pointlessly for a moment or two.  Then I cut him off.  

“OK, I understand you’re not authorized to offer a customer more than $10 on behalf of the corporation.  I’ll take it.  Talk to you later, Josh,” I said, and rung off.  

“You were very mean to him,” Sekhnet said.  You’d hardly know, from her reasonable, parental tone, that she’d been barking like Obi, the long-eared Tourretic next door, only moments earlier.  

“And you’re no Etgar Keret,” she will point out when I read this to her.  

“Steek,” I will say, suavely extending a paw,  “James Steek, Keret veh Steek.” 


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