Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Does anyone else find our automated life frustrating beyond belief? Everything is fine when it works; computers, TV's, washing machines, cars, telephones, iPods, ATM's, on and on and on and on. Heaven forbid something does not work.

My DSL service is provided by AT&T. I have had the service for several years, and the monthly amount is deducted automatically. This has been unproblematic for several years.

I go to Costco to fill up on gas and pay for this with my debit card. Suddenly one week when I inserted the card an error message came up saying the pump doesn't recognise my card. I tried reinserting it several times, to no avail. An attendant came to help - he thought my card may have been demagnetised, and wiped it on his trousers - nothing helped. I then used a credit card, something I hate doing. After this I went to my bank. They said my card was fine and my swipes hadn't even registered on their screens. I then went to Costco's customer service who informed me that they have nothing to do with the pumps on their property. It appears that the pumps had suddenly developed a mind of their own, and they decided not to accept my debit card.

Because everyone tried to 'fix' my card by manually wiping it on their clothing, I requested a new debit card from the bank. They sent a new card which had two different numbers from my old card. They said this was done to prevent fraud and it would not affect my monthly deductions from my bank account. They were wrong, I received a notice from Fastrak to update my information as my card was declined. Then I received an e-mail from AT&T that my internet services will be discontinued if I do not update my information. They gave me a number to call. Dutifully, I called and the bloody automated machine answered with the usual "if you are calling about ... punch 1, about that, punch 2,' etc. None of the options were suitable so I didn't punch anything, except for the table at which I was sitting. The voice said "you didn't enter anything," and repeated the useless choices. Out of desperation I punched any number hoping to get a human voice. I did not. I hung up and called again and didn't enter anything. Eventually a customer service person answered "this is Jeff, how can I make your day?" It was night time. I told him I needed to update my credit card information. Jeff could not locate my internet account. All he could find was my phone account. After an extremely frustrating half an hour with Jeff, who apparently really wanted to help me, but just was unable to, he transferred me to a gentleman in India. This man kept repeating every word I said in the hopes that we would both understand each other. Eventually he said, 'I work in technical services, you need a customer service agent." I am really surprised that I answered in a civil tone as he continued saying he would transfer me. Then came the "all our agents are busy," for another half hour. Eventually a woman came on with her cheery "how can I make your day" bullshit. I don't know how, but she managed to help, and she updated my information in ten minutes.

Throughout this hour or more of utter frustration I remembered calling the airlines when my mother died. I wanted to get on a plane to Israel. An automated voice kept asking for my destination. Whenever I said "Tel Aviv" the bloody reply was "I heard Indiana" or "I heard Iowa". To say I was beside myself would be the understatement of the century (last century, this one is too short.)

During the World Cup my TV reception went on the fry or whatever it is they do, in the middle of the game between Mexico vs. France. UNACCEPTABLE. This is not the first time my reception has gone out, but I am so tired of calling, waiting, then having to arrange for someone to come to my house, etc. that I have given up calling. But during the World Cup - unacceptable. I called, and waited, and screamed. They said someone would come Saturday between 10 and 2 - the exact time I was supposed to go to friends to watch the match that the USA lost. I had to stay home and wait. In the meantime the TV started working again, but I was not prepared to tell Comcast it was now working. The agent came at 12.30 - asked who was winning, and sat down with me to watch the game!!! At the end he told me that unless the TV does its conking out thing he can't help,but he would just give me a new box anyway!!!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010


The World Cup continues. I still obsessively watch, and LOVE it. Of course after Ghana's sad leaving I am no longer invested, and can watch without my usually low blood pressure rising to meteoric heights! I can't analyze the games, and give you an informed commentary, suffice to say, I thoroughly enjoy it, to the exclusion of all else. Hence, no blogs.

However, today again proved to be one of those joyous days related to work. The same kids I described in my May 11th blog, again passed major developmental milestones. The little boy who has Johansen Blizard Syndrome (they are all little, but this one is particularly little, it is part of his rare syndrome) has consistently never stayed in prone (on his stomach) for longer than maybe a nanosecond. When I first received the referral and read the name of the syndrome I imagined finding a freezing Norwegian. Instead he was a very odd looking, teeny low-tone little Mexican with a nose just like the beak of a bird, an odd pattern of hair growth, amongst many other anomalies. At first he screamed if I tried to place him in prone, Later he learned to wriggle out of the position. If he even sensed I may be placing him on his stomach he turned himself around so fast that sometimes he almost slipped out of my grasp. In vain I tried, his parents tried, his physical therapist tried - all to no avail. Tomorrow he turns two years old, and although he does many new things, crawling is not one of them. Today we played with a ball. He sat between my legs and threw the ball to his young cousin who then threw it back to him. If it went astray (nearly every throw) his cousin or his mother would have to crawl under the table or go down the passage way to retrieve it. He wouldn't move, even though he has learned to scoot around on his butt. After a while I placed him on his hands in a wheelbarrow position and lifted his legs. After a few minutes of this I lowered him, stomach down, to the floor, waiting for him to flip, writhe, scream, anything to escape. To my astonishment he remained in prone and began combat crawling. I could not believe it, off he went, along the tiled living room floor into the kitchen. There he turned around and continued down the carpeted passageway toward a bedroom! I stood there dumbstruck (briefly.) His mom said that on Friday he began doing this. What joy and excitement. This bodes very very well for his future development. I could honestly say to his family that he will eventually walk.

Later the mother of the other odd little boy who also has a rare syndrome, 41 xxxxy, of which not much is known, called me to say he is sick, he has been coughing. I asked whether I can come tomorrow and she said, "please, we have something very exciting to show you. He got to his hands and knees the other day and crawled a bit, before collapsing." For the first year of his life he didn't move, at all. He never reached for toys, he never moved. If placed on his stomach he stayed there until moved. When placed on his side, that is where he remained, the same when he was on his back. Eventually he learned to sit without support, and there he remained like a little Buddha. Just recently he has begun smiling and combat crawling, and he even initiated a game of 'peek-a'boo' to my astonishment. And now he is crawling!!!!!!!!!!!