Pac Bell Hell

Suzanne Blais brakes for animals, and she'll even brake for you at [email protected]





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Shouldn't hooking up a phone line be as simple as hooking up in a bar? You wear a tight shirt and lick your lips a lot, and after a while you locate a victim and pounce. But it is decidedly not so. You know why? Because Pac Bell is the devil. I hate them. Sister Francine taught me in the second grade that hate is the ugliest word there is, but I truly believe it applies to my feelings toward Pac Bell.

I currently owe them my firstborn child. It is sad to think that someday I'll have to tell little Suzie, "You have to go with the phone man now. Mommy once called Boston during peak hours."

It's not just their rates that I despise. (And, by the way, with the money they charge by the minute, Pac Bell is more like a high-class hooker than a public utility. As my friend Jeff would say, "Do I get laid for that price? And will it make me breakfast in the morning?" "Pretty Woman" Pac Bell ain't. It isn't even my beck-and-call girl, as you will see from this transcript of a call I placed to them last Saturday:

Pac Bell Satan Worker (Funnier if read in a demon voice): Pac Bell. We put Satan's Spawn to work. How can we violate every orifice of your body today?

Me: Uh, yeah. I live in a house and I need to switch my phone line from room nine to room two.

PBSW: OK, so I need to press a button to do that. Can't you just use two tin cans and some string? Goddamn mortals!

Me: Riiight. So what's the cost for that?

PBSW: Forty bucks, sister! (Followed by crazy flying monkey laughter.)

Me: Ma'am, are you aware that that is the equivalent of four pitchers of beer or two parking tickets, both of which I spend the majority of my money on?

PBSW: We can hook you up on Thursday, Oct. 10.

Me: October?! I need a phone now!

PBSW: And I would like to extinguish the fires of eternal damnation, but we all have to be patient, missy!

Me: Is there any way to speed this up?

PBSW: Let me check with my manager. Please hold ... (The music of Poison plays in my ear.) Okey-dokey. Says here if you sign over your soul we can do it for just $5 and by Monday.

Me:(I must admit I had to think about the offer for a few minutes before answering.) Do I get a free football phone with that?

I don't deserve this kind of treatment! I'm a good person! I brake for animals! I tell my friends when their shoes don't match their purse. But if this is all I have to complain about, I can't complain at all.

Pac Bell doesn't have the market cornered on bad phone service. My cell phone is little more help to me than perhaps a carrier pigeon with notes tied to its legs. I'm actually looking into re-establishing the Pony Express or giving everyone I know a large conch shell as a more effective means of communication. Half the time I hear someone else's conversation while I'm trying to have my own, and let me tell you, there are some sick cookies out there. I actually knew a girl in high school who met her boyfriend when she accidentally dialed the wrong number. They ended up talking for hours. But he turned out to be a freak two months later. Go figure.

Even though I don't particularly understand the phone company, some people just don't understand phones themselves. While I was off contemplating the value of my eternal soul, my friend Foudy called me several times and left messages asking where I was and when I'd be back and why the hell wouldn't I call him back. By the final message (of six), he was philosophizing on the term "answering machine." "You know," he babbled to me, "I don't know why they call this an 'answering machine.' This is more like a doesn't-answer-shit machine. I have all these questions, and it's not giving me any answers." Needless to say, Foudy drinks. A lot. And often.

In a perfect world, you could just plug a phone into the wall and it would work. But that would be very boring. A perfect world would not be nearly as funny. I'm learning to get over the fact that there are a lot of things over which you have no control. So you might as well just laugh.

I literally wake up each morning wondering what the hell is going to happen to me that day, expecting that it's going to be a fun, if not completely bumpy ride. Really, if you think about it, life is like a really bad BART ride. It can smell really bad and be really gross and dark and uncomfortable, and suddenly you'll pop up from under the Bay into the warm sunshine, and you feel that everything is right with the world. And then you realize you're in downtown Oakland.

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