Monday Morning Musings

Posted on September 21, 2020 under Monday Morning Musings with 3 comments


“One ringy dingy. Two ringy dingy.

Is this the party to whom I am speaking?”

Lily Tomlin as Ernestine on Laugh- In

This is a second installment of getting my bell rung. If you thought the previous episode was bizarre to the point of unbelievable, keep reading. Once again, I couldn’t make this up. Well, with my vivid imagination, I could probably take a stab at a fictional piece.

I will call this post “not saved by the bell.”

First of all, the quote at the top of the page. If you were born after 1973, you missed one of the truly great comedy shows on television. Laugh-In ran from 1969-1973 and Lily Tomlin, playing Ernestine, the telephone operator, was one of its biggest stars. I have spent a lot of time on the phone recently and many times I wished I could have been humored by Ernestine.

Who remembers the Gordian Knot? As I suspected, just about all of you, at some point in your illustrious careers have stumbled upon this term in a history class. The term “Gordian Knot”is commonly used to describe a complex or unsolvable problem. It can be traced back to a legendary chapter in the life of Alexander the Great… not to be mistaken with Alexander Keith. He was great too… and still is!

Sometimes there are problems that just can’t be solved. Paying a phone bill shouldn’t be one of them. If you didn’t read last Thursday’s Tidbits (shame on you) go there now to get the back story. The Reader’s Digest version is that I had a landline phone installed in my apartment on August 13th. The invoice came a few weeks ago. I tried to pay it. I was unsuccessful.

Last Friday, I called the service provider (rhymes with smell) to try and put this issue to rest. If I get into all of the technicalities, you will stop reading this post if you haven’t already. Louisa, my CSR, put me through my paces. A subsidiary of the Mother Ship services the north, but they get their marching orders and accounts information from Head Office. It has become apparent that Covid has played a role in making these transactions more complicated.

Louisa told me that It was imperative that I get my bill paid that day as the bill now included the prepayment for September meaning that I was now officially in arrears and faced having my account closed by the end of that business day. I cheerfully told my new friend that, indeed, I had been trying for weeks to do just that with no luck. Even after five weeks of service, she could not find an actual account number for us to use to pay the bill. Fear not. She hastily created a sort of “dummy account” (somehow appropriate for me) and we got on to the business of making a payment.

I had my Mastercard at the ready. “I am sorry. I cannot accept a credit card payment because I am working from home and we are not permitted to authorize these types of transactions.” Ditto for e-transfers. “You will have to get a money order today and call me back with the serial number on the money order to prove that the payment is in the mail.” No sweat. I told the secretary at the school that I had a short errand to run (it was a planning day for me so my absence wouldn’t result in the collapse of the educational system in Kangiqsujuaq).

Did I mention that my internet connection was abysmal that morning and that there was no internet connection at the school… on the first day back for some of our students? More on that later.

The post office is located in one of the two grocery stores in the village. It is conveniently located a mere 10- minute walk from the school. I sauntered down, into a very chilly breeze. In my hand, was an envelope, addressed and ready to go to my service provider. “I need a money order for $196.20 and a stamp.” “We don’t have any money orders left and we are out of stamps.” “Ah. Some Friday humor”, I was thinking to myself, but the stern clerk wasn’t joking, or smiling. The post office indeed was moneyorderless and stampless. I don’t give a shit if these aren’t real words. They are now. “You can try the other grocery store,” was his suggestion.

I was now walking into a cold wind, uphill, to the far end of town still shaking my head at the idea of a post office with no stamps. The other food chain in town didn’t handle money orders. I headed for home to place a call to Louisa. Before I got home, I stopped into the school briefly and was approached by one of the technicians who asked to borrow my modem to assist the school in getting the internet back up and running. The Good Samaritan that I am didn’t think twice. Of course, this meant that now I didn’t have an internet connection at home. Remember that I had tried unsuccessfully last week to pay the bill online because they couldn’t find my account number.

I momentarily thought about scanning and e-mailing an old- fashioned cheque just as a sign of intent and goodwill, but with no internet, that wasn’t an option.

I got back on the phone waiting to break the unpleasant news to Louisa that I did not have the serial number from the money order. Louisa works in a call centre. I refused to talk to anyone else but her as I had spent an inordinate amount of time explaining the whole fiasco to her earlier in the morning. I did, however, have the distinct pleasure of speaking with Monica, Zeke and James (not their real names) who assured me that they could help me untie the Gordian Knot. No disrespect but I don’t think any of them could have untied my shoelaces. James, the last of my helpers sounded like he might be the same age as one of my grade 5 students.

I never did get to speak with Louisa as they are not permitted to transfer calls inside the call center. Mentally exhausted, I gave up.

My next call will be to someone in the Public Relations Department of the service provider. And then it might be on to the lovely folks at CBC’s Market Place.

Of course, if my internet connection is bad and my landline is cancelled for failure to pay my bill, I may have to resort to stepping out on the tundra and start howling at the top of my lungs… just like the sled dogs at feeding time!

Stay tuned for the next gripping (griping) episode of “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.

Have a great week.


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