Monday, June 9, 2014

"A Day To Remember"

Lunch with Mama Rachel, glorious “I’m Batman!” Milo and a sleeping Baby Jack at the California Chicken Café.  They arrived before me and are already eating.

I step up to the counter and I order my “Usual” – the “Chicken Platter”, including three dark meat pieces, rice and a salad with no tomatoes and bleu cheese dressing on the side.  I pay, I take my “Number Card” – “15” – and I plant it on the table, so they will know where to bring it.

In time, the waitress arrives with my food.  The salad has tomatoes in it, but that’s okay.  I’ll just pick them out and set them aside. 

I am just starting in when the waitress comes back carrying a second “Chicken Platter” – three more dark meat pieces, rice, a salad with tomatoes, bleu cheese dressing on the side.

I explain to the waitress that I only ordered one “Chicken Platter”, not two.  The waitress seems extremely agitated, as if she were on the California Chicken Café employment “bubble” and one more slip-up and she’s out.

Always conciliatory, Rachel suggests we hold onto the second three-piece “Chicken Platter” and simply take it home for later.  Not wanting to make a fuss, I acquiescingly agree.

Two minutes later, the waitress returns with a third “Chicken Platter.”  Well, that’s enough for me.  How much chicken can you take home? 

I instruct the waitress to take this third “Chicken Platter” back, and while she’s at it, she can take back the second “Chicken Platter” as well.  The waitress, looking stricken, announces that she will speak to the manager.

Shortly thereafter, the manager arrives.  Apparently, through some unfortunate misunderstanding, the bill – which they had invited me to check – actually calls for three “Chicken Platters.”  “I am not that hungry”, I explain, covering my apparent mistake of not sufficiently carefully checking the bill with a joke.  ‘Cause that’s what I do.

Rather than holding me to my “triple-the-order-I-intended”, however, the manager, without argument, returns in cash – not store credit – the full price of two three-piece dark meat “Chicken Platters.” 

“Customer Service.”  I could hardly believe it.  (Because it is so frickin’ rare.)

I felt I was on a roll.  Business people were being reasonable with me.  I decided to strike while the iron was hot.

I immediately went home and called Verizon Wireless.

(See:  “Nyeh” – 6/30/14.  Synopsis:  For the past two months, my ancient fifteen dollar-a-month cell phone plan {taxes and surcharges raising the total to $18.82} was being assessed “Roaming Minutes” even though I had not “roamed” anywhere except outside the house, ballooning my last two cell phone bills to $23.48 and $21.93.)

I figured it was my lucky day.  Maybe I could get some satisfaction.  (The old are the bane of big business’s existence.  We have entirely too much time on our hands.)

My Verizon Wireless Sales Rep is named Jennifer, formerly from Southern California, but currently situated in Bangor, Maine.

I explain to Jennifer about my receiving “Roaming Charges” on my cell phone bill, although I am seemingly not roaming.  The calls in question were made within a two to three mile radius od their destination.  A “Roaming Distance” for ants, perhaps, but I am not an ant.

I ask Jennifer if it were possible that my phone plan was so old it allowed for “No Free Minutes” and had a “Roaming Distance” of “Nowhere.”  I was not entirely serious, and Jennifer “got it.”  Which happens less often when the Sales Rep is from Bangladesh.

I was put on “Hold” a couple of times, but the final outcome was surprisingly satisfactory.

Jennifer signed me up for a new plan at the same price, but this one would have an “Unlimited Roaming” capacity.  (Knowing myself as I do, I shall never test that out, fearing that I have misunderstood the arrangement, and any attempted out-of-state {or out-of-country} phone call will cost me my house. 

“Come on, Earl.  Did you really think you could make a phone call from Turkey for fifteen bucks?  You have to read your contract!”)

Though I accepted the new plan, I remained confused about my last two phone bills.  And I decided to pursue it.  I mean, I had come out on top in the “Chicken Platter Dispute.”  The stars appeared to be propitiously aligned.

Why, I ask Jennifer, had I ever been charged “Roaming Minutes”?  In response, Jennifer threw me some, perhaps scripted, double-talk about old phone towers that had subsequently been relocated that was so opaquely impenetrable my only conclusion was that the real explanation for these questionable charges was,

“We were cheating you, and we did not think you would notice.”

The truth is, it no longer mattered.  I now had an “Unlimited Roaming” plan, where they could cheat me in an entirely different manner.  There remained, however, one final loose end, which I would not even have mentioned had Jennifer not have been so nice, and I had not been a crank.  (Who felt particularly lucky.)

“What about those bizarre “Roaming Charges”, Jennifer?  Do you think I could get my money back?”

Jennifer put me back on “Hold” to find out.  My persistence may sound ridiculous, but why shouldn’t I get my money back?  

The company had mischarged me.  I deserved the return of, in one case, $3.11, and $4.66 in the other, a grand total of seven dollars and seventy-seven cents.  

Didn’t I?

Jennifer came back, promising a full credit on my next phone bill.

I ask you.  Was that a special day, or what?

I will tell you what made it really special.  And it had nothing to do with phone bill adjustments or returning chicken.

I taught Milo how to use the California Chicken Café’s ice dispenser.

I picked him up – actually I didn’t; I made him jump up in the air and I caught him; the “straight from the floor” lifting hurts my back – and I showed him how to push the little metal bar so that the ice will come out, patiently explaining that if you put your hand in the middle of the bar, the ice will fall onto your hand, but if you place it over to the side, the ice cubes will drop straight into the glass.  There were two tentative “false starts”, but then he got it.

It is fun when the “system” cooperates. 

But it is Light Years better connecting with a kid.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

congrats on all fronts.


The Grate One said...

There is one obvious question that someone should ask (RE your lunch), but I'm not the one to do it. I am glad to hear that you got jiggy with Verizon. They were deserving of your attention. Verizon's always been very fair w/me but I notice that they've made it very difficult to contact a real human being on the phone now. Where they used to have an 800 number that would eventually lead you to a real person, they now have several layers of automated voices which will eventually hang up on you. Now I just go to the nearby Verizon store and let them deal with my enormous problems.

How bout those Kings?