Is My Head Exploding Yet?

As reported a few days ago on Facebook, we were in Pine Bluff, AR, having easily traversed the Arkansas River for this particular leg from Little Rock. We anchored around 2 p.m. and had a lazy wonderful afternoon relaxing. Since we wanted to head out at first light the next morning, we set an alarm.

The routine when anchored is to run the generator while we have dinner and relax before bed, then go through the night without it to save on fuel. In the morning, we fire it up to get our morning coffee/tea and to make sure the fridge and freezer are staying cool.

This particular chilly morning, Rick started the generator to get some heat going while I got dressed. It ran…until it didn’t. No heat, no hot tea, no refrigeration, emergency lights only. “I knew we’d have to pay for such a perfect day yesterday,” I muttered to myself.

Rick started pulling out all the crates of tools he had stored below deck in order to get to the faulty piece of equipment. I kept my head down (he tends to get into a foul mood when he has to deal with things that may have been tampered with by the previous owners) and continued to get dressed. He checked the coolant; it was down. Of course we had coolant. That was, apparently, only part of the issue, however. He thought the water pump wasn’t working properly. Of course, we didn’t have a spare.

Choice One: continue down river and allow all the food needing refrigeration to spoil.

Choice Two: head back to Little Rock and get the generator fixed.

If we went with choice one, we would be headed into the unforgiving desolate waters of the Mississippi. We’d already been told to have enough food, water, and fuel to make it all the way to New Orleans. Ol’ Man River didn’t have any services for the likes of us after Greenville, MS. So we turned around.

The locks we’d successfully lowered through yesterday raised us up the next day. The first lock took four hours to get into. Four. Flipping. Hours. An excessively large barge in the lock was throwing a hissy fit at a dredging barge outside of the lock that was, in his estimation, too close to where he needed to exit. The dredge had to shore up a bit to please him and they didn’t seem to think that was necessary. So we waited. We tried dropping anchor but it didn’t hold. We didn’t have a lot of choices on where to wait, so Rick kept moving us in a pseudo-pattern in between idling. It was irritating, but they were bigger than us and they were commercial. Commercial trumps leisure in “lock-speak.”

Still, we made it back to the marina by 6 p.m. and docked fairly easily despite my awkward jump from the boat to secure a line. (Two days later, my re-injured shoulder is still painful. Bah! Rub some salt on it. Suck it up. It’ll be fine.)

Since we had a few days before parts would be here and the mechanic would be able to check on things, we decided to try AGAIN to switch our phones over to Verizon. A little background. We’d had Verizon previously, but had no signal in our house in Arizona. That problem coupled with their lack of customer service led us to switch carriers. Fast forward to our first trek to Little Rock. Our phones were useless, but the guys with Verizon were able to call, text, stream, and create videos. They worked for Verizon and convinced us we obviously needed to make a change. While we were in Little Rock (the first time), we took Uber to the Verizon store. Once there, we learned that we needed a code to “unlock” our phone from T-Mobile. “Unlocking” could take up to 24 hours. We headed back to the boat via Uber again. (By the way, Uber is fantastic!) So now we’re, what, something like fifteen bucks in to get these phones changed. We go back the next day with the unlock codes, at which time, we were pushed towards signing up for prepaid. When we declined (actually, I said, “why would I let you earn interest on my money when I could be?”) we were told given that because we had phone numbers from Arizona, were in Arkansas, but had a Florida address, we needed proof of address. “You know, like a utility bill or something,” said a different, red-headed dude (our original guy had not been working that day). Incidentally, I don’t know why I mention he had red hair. Only that it irritated the crap outta me at the time. We leave again. Now our travel expense is at around $30. The next day we headed down river, so we dropped the whole thing.

But now we were back. The lack of signal when we tried to call the mechanic on our way back to Little Rock solidified the need for the switch. So we sucked it up and went back, yet again, to the Verizon store. (Helloooo, Uber.) We thought we had stacked the deck in our favor this time around. We took a bundle of things to prove our address including the only utility bill we had (for internet back at the house before we moved), two recent credit card statements, copies of our insurance cards, an IRS statement confirming our refund, a Fidelity statement, a bank letter, the papers for the boat purchase, and a Declaration of Domicile for each of us, notarized by the Clerk of Courts in Florida (a requirement to register to vote.) In addition, we texted our friend who works for Verizon. He then called the store and spoke with the manager. We were assured they would take good care of us. And they did. But… (You knew I wouldn’t bother with all this if there wasn’t a “but…”).

Our original guy was back. (Yay! Carrot Top wasn’t working.) He did the paperwork and sent it along with our documentation to New Jersey for approval. It was rejected. Our credit is fabu. What was the deal? Weeeelllll…

We kept sending more and more documentation; all of it was rejected.

Now, as a teacher, I was known for keeping my cool even though certain kids would put other teachers over the edge. It took a lot to rile me. But my foot started tapping. Not a good sign. Our Verizon guy called to get clarification and eventually put the woman, Sabrina was her name, on speaker for us (and the entire store) to hear direct.

“I have a list of things that are acceptable and you don’t have those things,” said Sabrina.

“But we were told to bring a utility bill,” said Rick.

“Tappity, tap, tap,” said my foot.

“It’s too old,” said Sabrina.

“I gave you a credit card statement,” countered Rick.

“It’s too old as well. It has to be within the last 30 days.” I pulled out the other credit card statement, with a payment date of 10/15/16. We faxed it, then waited (tap, tappity, tap…). Everything we had, she had an excuse for not accepting. The Declaration of Domicile wasn’t “on the list.”  The IRS paper and insurance card were in my name, not Rick’s. OKAY. Enough.  I spoke up.

“Let me speak to your supervisor, please.” I thought I was pleasant, but both guys were silent and looked at me sideways. So maybe I didn’t say “please.”

Obviously tight lipped, she put us on hold to go get her supervisor. We waited a good 15 minutes before Nancy came on the line. By now, the entire store was listening intently as I attempted to explain our situation. “We recently retired,” I started. “We sold our Arizona house and our belongings and bought a boat. The boat was in Arkansas, but our new address is actually in Florida. We are traveling there via the boat and wanted to switch carriers so we had reliable service while on the river system. I asked for you because I wanted to talk with someone that has the authority to make common sense decisions based on special circumstances, rather than someone who can only repeatedly give me ‘the approved list.” She said she understood. I explained we had given quite a few documents to prove our address including the notarized Declaration of Domicile.

“I haven’t had the chance to review the documents yet. Give me a minute,” she said. (What was she doing for that 15 minutes we were on hold? Pilates?) “Well, you have a credit card statement that’s over 30 days old. We can’t accept it.”

“It had a charge of $100, which we paid. We have a zero balance. We didn’t get another bill.”

“We can’t accept it. It’s too old.”

“There is another credit card as well.”

“The date of issue isn’t within 30 days.”

“It says at the top October 16, 2016.”

“That’s the due date, not the date of issue.”

Rick interjected, “You don’t understand. We live on a boat.”

I finished his thought, “We only get our mail once a month. We don’t have another statement yet.”

“We can’t accept it.”

“Okay. We also gave you an insurance card and the Declaration of Domicile. It’s notarized! It can be used to obtain a U.S. passport. If it’s good enough for the U.S. government, why is it not good enough for you?”

“It’s not on the list.”

“Okay. I’m trying very hard not to go to Crazy Town right now,” I said, as the lady sitting next to me started chuckling. “What can you do for me?”

“I can go over the list of approved documentation.”

I wanted to ask why she presumably earns more as an assistant manager than Nancy does as a worker bee, when she obviously does not have the autonomy to do any more. I also want to tell her that’s sad and she must feel bad about where she is in life. Instead, I said, “And who is your supervisor?”

Now Nancy is irritated. “Viola.”

“Let me speak with Viola, please.” We were put on hold only to be told that Viola has apparently refused to speak with us. We were then told that “a call is only allowed to be escalated once and that was from Sabrina to me.” Thanks for nothing, Nancy. The lady next to me clucked and said she saw that coming.

I’m furious. My foot is tapping, my leg is bouncing, and my snark is peeking through.  “So you are saying you don’t want our business.”

“I’m not saying that.”

“Well, okay, what can you do for me?”

“I can give you the list.”

“We’ve been through the list. You are saying there is absolutely NOTHING you can do for me other than reading me a list.”

“I’m sorry. That’s all I can do.”

Great. And no one else could help us because we had already been “escalated”. I got her last name and attempt to get both Sabrina’s and Viola’s last names as well, but she was not forthcoming. We hung up. We apologize to our Verizon guy who had wasted his day on us. (By now it’s been 2-1/2 hours and he has earned no commission for this time.) We walked out. I was so angry that even a visit to Barnes and Noble did nothing to cool me down. (If you know me, you know that’s HUGE.)

So Rick let our friend know our troubles and that we won’t be switching to Verizon after all. We-el, he apparently must have a pretty good position at Verizon. He got the info from us, called yet another supervisor and got it sorted out. Easy-peasy. My hero. (Thanks again, Justin!) That supervisor called Rick to assure him we could go back into the store and get signed up. Rick took the opportunity to explain our frustration. He assured her no one was rude to us. But no one was able to help or had the authority to think outside the box. She said this would become a learning tool at the next meeting and assured us customer service would get better. That’s still to be determined, but I will say our signal is markedly improved. I will also say it’s good to have friends in high places. All’s well that ends well, as they say. Now, I need to clean up. This whole “head explosion” thing is a real mess.


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