November musings

If you could see me, I would apologize for my disheveled and wild-eyed appearance. It comes from my unsettled mind and frazzled nervous state.  

Here’s what happened: I tried to break up with my cable provider. I’ve had lots of breakups in my life with employers, employees, family, friends, neighbors, strangers, social and professional organizations, even a couple of churches, but I have never been through anything like this. 

At first, I thought it was a language problem.

Sometimes, it has been a language problem. When I arrived in San Miguel, Mexico, to visit a friend, I splashed down into a world of Spanish I cannot speak. After a flash of panic, I let go and just floated, bobbing on my back on a pleasant sea of language I did not understand. No expectations. It was relaxing.

Yet, all my adult life I have had trouble trying to communicate in English, my native language. A friend agreed to paint a wall for me and when I saw it I said, “It was supposed to be yellow.” He answered, “I thought blue would be nice.” Yellow, blue. Like that.

Then I thought it was a gender problem.

I could never make myself heard in business meetings. Why? I wondered. Too blonde? Too lightweight? Too quick with a quip to be taken seriously? Then I read that microbiologist Rita Colwell, Ph.D., the first female head of the National Science Foundation, said in meetings her comments were often ignored, but when a man said the same thing, her remarks now coming out of his mouth were proclaimed as brilliant.  

Oh, I get it. Too female. Like that.

My troubles with the cable company started when I canceled TV service but wanted to keep the internet and phone. Flash! I had no service of any kind. I began to tumble down more rabbit holes than Alice in Wonderland. For five days — that’s right, five days in limbo, but the discussions began four days before that — I talked with service desks and reinstatement people and technicians and supervisors. Or tried to talk with them. You might not know it, but the world is in overload, and representatives around the world are currently busy helping other clients and experiencing an unusually high demand for service. The usual wait time is 20 minutes. I repeated this call. Then repeated it again and again until I thought I was trapped in the childhood nursery song “Finnegan, Begin Again.”

I talked with Steven, Paul, Mekayla, Seth, Boris, Manny, Max, Mark, Sadin, Gerry, Jarel, David, Gabriel and others whose name I didn’t catch. I might have been back in San Miguel because I didn’t understand anything any of them said. Blah, blah, blah, blah. Words of “copper” and “fiber-optic” occasionally pierced the babble like the shriek of a siren during a night of tornadoes. Whatever service I had once had, I no longer had, and I can never get it back. 

For five days I could not get any kind of service, new or old; however, I apologized for all the awful things I said about the cable company. Finnegan, begin again. I longed to be back in San Miguel or Paris or Celtic-speaking

Ireland. There, at least, I could point and gesture and make myself understood. Here, on my little cell phone, a flip phone everybody laughs at, all I could do was experience an unusually long wait time due to the unusually high demand. Blah, blah, blah. Like that.

Some weeks have passed, and my cable communication issues seem to be resolved. At least for now. I consider the situation so fragile, I allow myself only the terms “seem to be” or even “may be.” My faith in people and technology has been tested and failed. I take nothing for granted. I believe no promises. Blah, blah, blah. Like that.

One night I heard a public radio interview with Mary Lou McDonald, the Irish Sinn Féin politician, who brushed aside a question as hearsay. She likened it to a popular, everyday saying in Ireland: A woman told me that a woman told her ... 

Blah, blah, blah. Like that.

I have heard so many explanations and suppositions and suggestions from so many people about my cable service, I might as well be in

Ireland hearing, “A woman told me that a woman told her.” In the Celtic language of Ireland, the maxim can be even longer: A woman told me that a woman told her that another woman told her ... In Gaelige, it is Dúirt bean liom gur dhúirt bean léi gur dhúirt bean eile … 

Like that.

Connie Cronley is the author of four books, commentator for public radio 89.5 FM and a columnist for TulsaPeople.

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