#79 – Having an Easy Experience with Customer Service People

Every month, like most folks, I get a bill for my cable and internet. For the purpose of this exercise, let’s call the company that provides those services “Optimum”*

After a year of a “promotional” rate, a letter arrived in the mail explaining that while the previous promotion had run out, they had already put me on a rate that (once I did the math) put me in the same price range.

Then, of course, the bill comes, and it’s about 30 dollars more. I look it over and at first, nothing shouts out to me as egregious (dollar here, ninety cents there… nothing too serious). A few scrolls down, however, and I saw it–the phone portion of the “Triple Play”* had gone from $15 to $30. On its face, that’s not a lot of money, but when you consider that we don’t even own a home phone, it’s pretty significant to double the price of something we don’t even use. The only reason we even added it in the first place was because I was told it would save us money.

So, naturally, I call “Optimum”. I was expecting the usual routine. I verify my details, explain my situation, they explain how promotions work, I explain how I don’t use the phone, they make up some nonsensical bullshit about bundling packages, I again explain how devices can’t work if you don’t even own them, they say they’re sorry to hear this, I fake-threaten to go to Verizon, they ask what they can do, I tell them they can lower my bill, they say they’ll see what they can do and then go on hold for 90-120 seconds and return with the news they knew they could deliver the whole time.

Usually, that’s how it (generally speaking) goes. It’s exhausting and annoying.

This time, I basically went from step one to the end, right away. I told the guy that I wanted to discuss my bill, verifying my information. He said, let me put you on hold and look at your account. Maybe a minute and a half later, he returned, told me he could take $15 off my bill, would that be alright? I said yes, he asked if there was anything else I needed, I said no, and we both hung up.

I stared at the phone for a good five minutes after I hung up, amazed at how painless that was. He knew what I wanted, didn’t need to hear the specifics, and skipped all the bullshit. Good on you, “Optimum” employee.

Polar Opposite of this Feeling?: God, how much time do we have? Staying on hold forever with these people, dealing with the morons they often employee, discussing this shit ad naseum with someone that acts like I’m asking for the nuclear codes and there’s simple nothing they can do to help.

 

*That’s just a guess, I honestly don’t know the name of the company. But, as they all basically operate in the same fashion, it doesn’t really matter.

**Again, just a guess as to what they might call a combination of phone, internet and television “bundled” together to save you money even though you do not use one of the three. At all.

 

#65 – Getting a New Cell Phone

SO LONG, SUCKERS!

I’m not really a technological whiz. In fact, that’s probably being kind. The smartphone I have now (up until recently I called it an internet phone) is the first one I’ve ever owned (and I’ve only had it now for two years).

Despite my resistance to technology (honestly, it’s any site where people get too over-sharey), I can’t deny that this shit, generally speaking, is fucking incredible. It’s time-saving, life-changing shit we’re talking about.

I could go on and on about how and why that is, but you already know. The point of this is that usually (unless you’re my older brother and get the new model each and every time it comes out) when you’re getting a new phone, it’s been quite a while. You’re still rocking the Mesozoic era device and they’ve since rolled out three new models and six new system upgrades. You’re unsure what any of that means, but it suffices to say your battery is garbage and you can’t use Tinder without your device crashing—it’s time for a new one.

And so, you willingly enter your nightmare—your local wireless retailer—and plunk down at least $75 to return home with the shiniest of shiny new toys.

Once all the syncing and upgrading and account verifying and payment has been done, here you are… You’re new phone, nay, you’re new life awaits. And it’s just that… NEW. It’s new, it’s exciting. Everything from setting up your ringtone (if you’re still in middle school) to figuring out how to take a screenshot (something I still don’t know how to do on my phone).

Enjoy it.

Polar Opposite of This Feeling?: The period that comes a month (maybe sooner) later when you stop caring about the new phone, and treat it like the old, regular, uninteresting one you used to have and similarly didn’t care if it fell on the ground because who gives a shit about scratching the case anyway, right?

The Best Sitcom On Television Might Not Be For You (It Probably Isn’t)

The irony of Comedy Central’s Broad City is that it isn’t broad at all. In fact, it’s one of the more specific sitcoms on television today. There’s two girls, both wacky in their own right, a dentist/fuck-buddy in Hannibal Buress, a gay pot-dealing roommate and an oblivious boyfriend of a roommate (who you never meet). Forgetting all that: if you aren’t remotely familiar with New York City, the show’s omnipresent 3rd star, a ton of the jokes will fall even flatter.

Here’s the thing: when it comes to comedy, not everything is for everyone.

The problem, though, is that the most popular shit (and in many ways, it is just that) tends to be the stuff that’s casting the widest net.

You’ve seen it a million times. Often, the net starts out specific, cast to a smart, sharp group of people (think: Modern Family). Then, when money enters the picture and viewing expectations and dollar commitments go up, the characters and situations that you came to know and love suddenly start being painted with thick paint strokes instead of fine markers. The jokes become bigger, the stick slappier, the gags longer and wider.

I’ve got no actual problem with shows like How I Met Your Mother or Big Bang Theory specifically. They’re popular for a reason:  a lot of people like them.

The truth about these shows is that their humor is insanely obvious (each and every joke as predictable and repetitive as the next), pandering and way over-the-top. I’ve tried to watch each of these shows at various points during their (literally) unbelievable runs and each time, I’ve been unable to muster even a smile. I’m sorry, just can’t do it.

You see, I’m a tough crowd to please when it comes to sitcoms. Raised on Seinfeld, I’ve set the bar pretty high. There’s been a bunch of shows that I’ve enjoyed for a season or two before falling out due to the issues outlined above. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The League and Modern Family all still have their moments, but were all best before their writers began attempting to cater to everyone. Hell, even Seinfeld suffered from that in the latter seasons.

Don’t get me wrong, I get why they do it. Wu-Tang wasn’t fucking around.

So, instead of describing specifically why I love the show or linking to what scenes I really enjoyed, I’ll just say what I wish for. We know Broad City is just one episode into its second season (actually, just renewed for a third). Could things get too silly, too ridiculous, too… dare I say it… broad? Of course. But until then, let’s hope this show remembers what channel it’s on and why it’s so fucking hilarious.

#49 – A Really Good Sports Debate/Argument (That You Win, Of Course)

Since I was a kid, following sports (specifically basketball, baseball and football–probably in that order) has been one of the things I did most (best? Man, that’s sad how true that may be).

I’d play the video games, watch the real games, read the articles and books, debate with friends, play in fantasy leagues–hell I even went to school to try to get a job talking about sports for a living (I’ve now work in sports television… really exploring the limits of my creativity, I know).

So, you could then rightly imagine that a decent amount of my discourse (although, admittedly, less as I’ve gotten older) finds itself centered around some sort of sports discussion. And, what’s more, you could imagine that I find myself surrounded with similar minded folks (read: sports nerds like myself).

All that said, we’re all so talked/debated-out when it comes to sports, that a true, good ol’ debate isn’t as common as you’d think. I’m talking about two people, two different opinions, two good arguments and two personalities that don’t particularly enjoy being wrong.

Now, I should clarify, this isn’t necessarily a shouting match (in fact, it hopefully isn’t). It’s more that it’s a meeting of two people who fall in-step conversationally and informationally, and a good debate is sparked.

Of course, it’s the most fun when you win.

(BTW, for those of you that can’t stand sports… sub in whatever it is you spend your time talking/thinking about… Politics? Organic food? Working out? Go nuts..)

Polar Opposite of This Feeling?: Thinking you’re in one of these guys, and then realizing that the other person is, in fact, a nincompoop.

#81 – Finding Something You’re Always on the Look Out For

Everyone’s got a hobby. Some people love guitars, others collect random shit, some of you love museums and art. Sometimes it’s rare–you’re a record collector and you can’t seem to find that one B-side you’re looking for—and other times it’s as simple as passing by the local antique place and taking a look around.Point is, everyone has that one thing (whether or not it’s a store, item, place, whatever) that will get them to stop and take a look when they pass it.

For me, not so shockingly, it’s a pretty juvenile pursuit… Sour Cherry Coke candy. Since I had my first one, I was hooked. I think part of my on-going fascination with the treat is it’s incredible rarity. Over the last decade plus, I’ve been unable to find this treat stateside (I’m excluding the ability to buy it on Amazon, because that’s no fun… having candy just delivered to your house… how pathetic)

I’ve found it in candy stores in London (where I know Haribo actually still sells it), in Toronto and Amsterdam as well. Each time, it’s been more amazing than the previous. Of course, I love the candy, but I think I love finding it more than anything else.

Polar Opposite of this Feeling?: Someone thinking they found me the candy somewhere, and it turns out being this. Not a bad replacement, but not the real thing. Not at all.

#132 – When People FINALLY Stop Saying “Happy New Year” To You

I’ll just tell you off the top—I fucking hate New Year’s Eve. I never am doing the right thing. If I’m with family, I’m annoyed I’m not with my friends. If I’m with friends, I wish I was with my family. If I’m with a girl, I wonder why I’m not with either of the two previous groups. It’s never as fun or as drunk or as long or as cheap as you hope it will be… or it’s exactly the opposite of some of those and it’s just as bad. And don’t even get me started on all the sentimentality of the entire event..

So yeah, I’m not a fan.

More than the “holiday”, I think I hate the barrage of “Happy New Year!” wishes you get for a seemingly endless period of time after the actual evening more than the actual evening.

Days, weeks (and in some cases, months) will pass and you’ll still get that person that wants to say “Happy New Year!”, or that e-mail sign off with the same (or, the e-mail that starts of with “Hope you had a great New Year’s!”).  Enough, already.

So, this feeling is for that moment when everyone collectively agrees: WE ARE DONE SAYING THIS. LET’S MOVE ON.

Polar Opposite of This Feeling?: That previous set of days/weeks.