February 23, 2006

Season of Darkness, pt. 2

Scroll down if you've not yet read part one.

Last night, after a conversation with our church treasurer, I agreed to pay the electric bill over the phone and get reimbursed; that would be the quickest way to get power restored. So this morning at 6:20, I called the "pay-by-phone" line.

Computerized voice: "Please enter your account number, followed by the pound sign." I do as asked. "I cannot find that account number; please enter your account number, followed by the pound sign." I do it again. Same result. I try a third time. "I'm sorry, I'm having trouble with the number you entered. Please hold while I transfer you to an operator."

A few moments later: "Hi, how may I help you?"

"I'd like to pay my electric bill and have service restored."

"Have you tried entering your account number through the computer system?"

"Yes, and it said my account doesn't exist."

"Well, that's because our computers are down. Try back in 28-30 minutes."

7:10. I try again. After being told by the computerized voice three times that the account number does not exist, I get a recording saying to try back in a half hour.

7:45. I try again. The system still isn't working.

8:45. I try one more time. I enter the account number three more times, then get transfered to an operator. "How may I help you?"

"I'm trying to pay my electric bill and get power restored."

"Have you entered your account number through the computer system?"

"Yes, and it says my account doesn't exist. Are your computers still down?"

"What's your account number?"

I read the account number off of the statement. "You're missing a digit; I need the whole account number."

"I'm reading it directly off of the letter I was sent."

"I'm sorry, but you'll have to call this other number to find out your account number, then call back."

I call the other number, the same one I called yesterday. The computerized voice starts talking, but I simply shout, "OPERATOR!"

A person comes on the line. "What's the address/phone number/zip code/current temperature/exterior color/etc. of the service location?" I supply the necessary information, and am given the missing digit of the account number.

I call the pay-by-phone number (how many times is this now?), and, when prompted by the computerized voice, enter the account number. Twice. Then I'm finally allowed to pay the bill. I'm given a 20-digit confirmation number. I hang up and call the other number, ask for OPERATOR, provide the confirmation number, and ask that electricity be restored. "Are there any access problems, any dogs or other things we should know about?"

"Sure; doesn't every church have a pit bull guarding it's entrance?"

"Your service will be restored sometime today before 8:00p.m."

"Can you be more specific about the time?"

No, I can't. Goodbye."

You know, our sanctuary roof would be a great place for some solar panels....


reverendmother said...

Oh. My. God.

Danny, you are a saint.

[rhymes with kerouac] said...

Oh my... tough day at the office. But you know, one day you'll look back on all this and will seem...

No wait, it still won't be funny.

How about building a couple of windmills? On days like this you could always go out and tilt at them...

Danny said...

It wasn't until I decided to write about it that I did in fact find it funny. I guess writing is therapeutic in that way. When I realized that I could perhaps get a good story out of all this, it kept me from getting too frustrated.

The power is now restored, by the way ... and it was on in time for last night's Cub Scout Blue & Gold Dinner at church. (*whew*)

Guido said...

Welcome to the world of being a small church pastor.


peripateticpolarbear said...

Oh my gosh! It was hilariously written, but must have been so frustrating!