OPINION

With all this annoyance, I'm not even mad

Ceason Ranson
Ranson Ritings

You ever have something happen to you that feels so completely insane that you can’t help but laugh so you don’t tear your hair out? I’m currently living that situation with Frontier.

At the time of this writing, it is week 7 where I have no phone and no internet, and for the previous six weeks, I was okay with that. In fairness to Frontier, like AEP, they have to turn people back online in order of large groups to small, and since only two people were affected by my line being down, I knew we’d be lowest on the priority list. So even though we had three, count ‘em, three, different “assessment visits,” (during which I assume they saw the lines laying across my yard and my desk, assessed that there was, indeed, a problem and then apparently went on with their lives) I stayed patient.

But finally, my mom, who was spearheading the “Get us our internet back” movement with less patience than I, managed to get the Frontier crew out, four days after they said they’d be there, but hey, they came. She even took them on an ATV ride so they wouldn’t be confused about what lines were down and where at. And she was so happy to report to me that she had phone and internet again, a glorious day that we hoped would mark the complete end of Ice Storm 2021.

She got an ending, yes. But when I showed up to log in and check the phones, I found my lines still across the yard, still across the deck, and no phone or internet. Y’all, they hung the lines from pole to pole, but didn’t string the dang line from the pole to my house. Spent all afternoon at my house, hung a ½-mile’s worth of line, parked in my driveway and in my yard to do it, and didn’t connect my house to the pole.

It’s the kind of thing that either makes you want to scream, cry or laugh, and in the interest of honesty: I was pretty mad for about three minutes. But after you get over the initial “Are you freaking kidding me?” all you can do is laugh. Because that’s just kind of my family’s luck with utilities.

I told y’all last year about how during the Blizzard of ’93 where we went without electric for two weeks, and how one of my dad’s best friend, Rick Greene, was kind enough to let us crash with him in his house. What I forgot, and what Rick’s wife, Brenda, reminded me, was that we actually could have gotten the electric turned on much sooner, if not for a real “Three Stooges” incident.

See, before we bailed out on our electric-less house, my dad, using the very cutting-edge 90s technology of “phone forwarding,” fixed it so our phone calls would ring into Rick’s landline, so we could still get calls that came to our number. This was (still is) a nifty little thing that most people who had landlines would do all the time. If Grandma Kate was staying with us for longer than six hours, she’d transfer her phone to our house so she wouldn’t miss calls from the other links in her gossip chain. So while we were at Rick’s, he’d get his calls on his phone, we’d get our calls on his phone and everyone was happy.

But here’s the deal: AEP obviously didn’t know that we were forwarding our calls, so when they’d call our number to check on us, they’d ask the question “Is your electric on?” because that was the only way they could know for sure. Remember, this was back before AEP had the ability to see on some screen if your electric was on — back then, they had to take your word for it. But they didn’t say, “Is the electric on at the Ranson house?’; they’d just ask if the electric was on, and obviously, it was on at the Greene house, so whoever got asked that question would answer “Yeah, its been on,” to which AEP would go “Great!” and move on to the next outage, thinking the problem was fixed.

Then my dad or mom would go up to our house, find the electric was still off and then call AEP to report “Hey, our electric is still off. When will you be out to fix it?” And the cycle would begin again.

According to Rick and Brenda, this Moe-Larry-Curly runaround went on for about five days before someone (I suspect Rick Greene — he’s always been the problem solver; like at one point in my life, my dad told me that if an emergency occurred, we were to call Rick first, then 911 if Rick wasn’t available) finally remembered AEP was calling our number (not the Greene’s) and therefore were asking about our electric, not the Greene’s. And just like that, the cycle of “Why isn’t our electric on?!?” “Because you keep telling us your electric is on!” was broken.

I don’t remember how my dad reacted to finding out we’d spent five extra days without electric because we didn’t remember we’d done a phone forward, but I imagine he laughed a lot about it. Because honestly, what else can you do? If we’d been stuck at home with no electric, sure, I don’t think he’d have found it as funny, but I think he’d have gotten a good chuckle out of it regardless. When you’re in the middle of a crisis, sometimes finding the funny is the only thing that keeps you from putting your head through a wall.

Even my beloved DirecTV got us good one time. We had a house on the nearby hollow that we were planning to rent out, and it burned down all the way to the foundation. To this day, we have no idea how. When we left it at 5 in the evening, it was standing, and at 6 a.m. the next morning, we were woken by a phone call from the trash men telling us it was just ash and cinderblock. Everything in it was gone — a three-bedroom, two-bath house full of furniture, a pool table, a foosball table and my mom’s brand new Bare Mineral make up brushes (she’ll tell you to this day that was the most devastating loss) — but luckily for us, not many personal items, so while we were extremely shaken by the experience, we knew it could have been worse.

And so we began the process of turning off utilities we were no longer using, one of which was the DirecTV box. Dad calls, tells them we had a fire, tells them we lost the box in the fire, and so what do we need to do turn off the service to that box? DirecTv’s reply? Send us the equipment back in the handy shipping box we’ll send you. Dad tries again: the equipment was in a fire, there is nothing to return in your shipping box, so how do you want us to handle that? They reply again: Please send us the equipment you are returning using in the shipping box.

I’m not sure how long this went on before he offered to send them a box of ashes from the approximate place where the box had once been plugged in, but they refused to accept either ashes or nothing, and after about three years of arguing about it, I think he just finally just paid the fee for lost equipment just so he could move on with his life. Even now, whenever I call DirecTV customer service, I always laugh a little bit, thinking about how, back then, DirecTV either didn’t think their boxes could burn or they had had one too many “My box burnt up” excuses to trust any of us again. I suspect the latter.

So yeah, its annoying to be almost two months without phone and internet (especially since my bill always arrives on time), but it's also just another one of those chuckle- inducing life experiences that we all go through that reminds us that even at life’s most annoying, there can almost always be a laugh to be had. It's things like that that make life interesting and memorable, if you choose to look at it that way. If you choose to look at every annoyance as just that, you might find yourself living in a perpetual state of mad, and that can’t feel good. So my advice when Frontier or AEP or even your favorite cable company tries your patience? Find the funny, because getting annoyed won’t get you moved to top of the “Fix It” list any faster. It’ll just wear you out.

Now, off to steal the WiFi at the Evans Four Seasons Hotel, aka, TL and Cindy’s house. Because as long as Ice Storm 2021 keeps messing with my utilities, they still feel sorry for me enough to let me hang out. And yeah, I have my pride, but using someone’s pity — WiFi doesn’t affect it one bit.