It is 2018. EVERYTHING is managed online. My mother does not have internet, or a smart phone or even know what WiFi or Bluetooth are. She doesn’t care to know. She is very good at having other people handle it. She practically made a career out of it. So when an issue like when the cable/satellite goes out, she is completely ill equipped to handle it.
Kathleen (not her real name) from the satellite company was so patient with me as I tried to explain that I was 275 miles away from the situation but trying to fix my mom’s TV. I had to go through a few security hurdles which were easily answered because my mom, like virtually everyone from her generation, has exactly one password. I guessed it the first time and I have been correct every single time since then.
After a few minutes of trying to find my mom’s account (registered under a LONG since turned off phone number) we are in. I try to retell what I was described to me by the caregiver – black screen, “no network.” Unfortunately, nothing is working. Finally, I pick up a second phone, dial my mom, and LITERALLY play the game telephone.
It is not lost on me that I could have conferenced the calls together. You’re welcome.
A phone on each ear I am repeating two sides of a conversation – “Did she reset the box?” “Did you reset the box?” “Yes.” “Yes.” “Is the red light flashing?” “Is the red light flashing?” “Which red light? “Which red light?” “The one above the logo.” “The one above he logo.” “The DISH logo?” “The DISH logo?” “Yes” “Yes” “Yes” “Yes it’s flashing?” “No” “No it’s not flashing?” “No, there is no logo.”
At this point Kathleen (still not her real name) offered a solution. A super secret special way that my mom’s caregiver could call back and be connected with Kathleen so they could resolve the issue quickly. I wept with joy.
I nominate Kathleen (or whatever her name is) for sainthood.
08:02 AM – Ring
“The TV isn’t working!” she was clearly agitated. “What do I do?”
“Um, good morning. What is the issue?”
“It’s not working! It’s just black.”
“Are there any words on the screen?”
At this point I realize I have spent a lifetime dismissing the patience of the Geek Squad – or Apple Genius Bar employees – or ANYONE on the other end of the line during a repair call. In three minutes I had run through the “turn it off and on” “what button?” “which remote are you using?” “read me the screen again” loop and was out of ideas. Clearly MORE than a little frustrated she hands the phone to her caregiver. “YOU talk to him!”
“It says Network Not Found but I called Dish and we think it was the wind last night but they can’t find her account even with the address and do you know what her account number is cause she doesn’t know it?”
“Um, hi, I’m Jim, her son.” “Yes, I know.” “And YOU are?” Always an awkward conversation when “meeting” one of your mother’s caregivers for the first time. I start to panic a bit about the level of care she is actually receiving based on how quickly the situation turned to “the son will fix it.”
“The TV hasn’t worked all morning and Miss J is getting a little upset having to stare at me all morning. We’ve run out of things to say.”
Yikes! At THIS point I take back every side eye I gave to every parent who used a Disney video or cartoon to keep a kid occupied for an hour.
“Would you like ME to call the satellite company?” “PLEASE!”
Here is what you missed:
Mom. Old. Fraudulent activity. New checking account. Change info with utilities. Strike Out.
I had no luck in changing the billing information with my mom’s cellphone company. I figure when they don’t get paid in two months they’ll find a solution fairly quickly. So I moved on. Next call, Water and Sewer. This one will be short.
ME: “Hi. Blah blah fraudulent checks. blah blah calling for Mom. Blah need to give you new checking account information.”
THEM: “Great. I’m happy to take that information.”
So, I read them the information. Then…
THEM: “OK, so go ahead and mail us a voided check and we will get that set up.”
THEM: “We need a voided check to change the account.”
ME: “Didn’t I just give you that info?”
THEM: “Yes, but we need the voided check to verify the account.”
ME (blood pressure already in the unsafe zone): “It’s 2018. You are telling me that you need a PAPER CHECK sent through the US POSTAL SERVICE to verify an account for AUTOMATIC ELECTRONIC BILLING?”
THEM: “Yes. Or you can fax it to us.”
Arizona. Where Technology Goes to Die.