Home & Garden Columns

Restoration Comedy: Phoning It In

By Jane Powell
Sunday July 11, 2010 - 04:59:00 PM

Having returned from Indiana to a typical East Bay summer (i.e. fog, or what a friend refers to as “barbeque in a parka” weather), I’m a little testy. As I’ve grown older I’ve come to actually like heat— not that I’m thinking of moving to the other side of the hill or anything. Nope, still attempting to hold on to my house. So I had another appointment at NACA last week.


When I showed up, they told me I couldn’t talk to the counselor, I had to call the 800 number and ask to speak to a negotiator. They said a negotiator had been trying to contact me. Oh really? I had made two separate phone appointments (via the web) to speak to a negotiator and no one had called at the appointed time, or ever. (NACA is strictly a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” kind of organization.) Unless all those phone calls from 800 numbers that I never answer because they’re probably phone solicitors were from NACA, I don’t think they were trying to get in touch with me. They could have left a message, not to mention they also have my email address.


But I dutifully called the 800 number from my cell phone. This was about 9:15 a.m. I was helpfully informed that I was caller #196 waiting to speak with a customer service representative. Every couple minutes my status in the line was updated, going down two or three numbers each time. Thank God they don’t say “your call is very important to us”— I would have had to strangle someone. I put on the headset and proceeded to run a few errands. By the time I had to be at work at 10:30, I’d only gotten down to #27. Then I had to hang up. So that was 75 wasted daytime cell phone minutes. Ostensibly the lines are open till 8 p.m. California time, so I called again about 7:30 in the evening— the office was already closed. Tried again the next day— this time I only started at caller #50! Finally got a human, who said the next available phone appointment was July 16th. Swell.


There was a reason I wanted to talk to an actual human at the NACA office— because when they call on the phone, it’s like the worst cell phone call you’ve ever been on. Apparently there are no cubicles, because you can hear numerous other conversations going on in the background, there’s a lot of static on the line, and everything you say comes back as an echo. The person at the other end keeps cutting out intermittently, so you miss half of what they say, and have to keep asking them to repeat it. So I’m not exactly looking forward to the phone call on the 16th.


Those of you who have been following this whole thing may recall that I was going to NACA’s Save the Dream event in Washington, DC, which started on July 16th, meaning I wouldn’t be home to get the phone call anyway. But when I checked the website to find out if they actually had decided on a venue for it, I discovered that they had, and also, that they had changed the starting date to July 23rd. Luckily I was able to change my airline ticket or I would have been out 50,000 miles for nothing.


In the immortal words of George Carlin, “If you die while you’re on hold does your light go out?”




Jane Powell writes for the Planet whenever she feels like it. Apparently she’s feeling like doing it weekly for the moment. Enjoy it while you can, and contact her at hsedressng@aol.com.