Like a virgin (with a shovel)

“Hello and welcome to We Already Have your Money and There’s Nothing You Can Do About It. Para enlese conrtolato numero uno.” (Shoot, did I dial the wrong number? I panic for a second and wonder why on earth I learned to speak Italian and not Spanish.) “For English, press two.” There she is again, I think; who is that lady, she sure gets around, I wonder if I’ll ever run into her on a plane or hear her voice in line somewhere and I would be like, OMG it’s the lady on the, the …you know, the lady who tells you which numbers to press next! “For customer service, press 1 or say customer service…” I enunciate, “Customer service”… “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand, did you say new reservation?” “CUSTOMER SERVICE,” I bark into the phone. “Customer service,” she repeats cheerily. “Please enter or say your 18-thousand-digit account number now. Oh, man, where is my card? This time I decide to punch in the numbers. “Did you enter 8…7…5… 4…4…3… 3…2…3… 2…3…2… 9…9…9…9…9…9? If this is correct, please press 1 now; if it’s not correct please press 2.” Braaaar, I practically smash in the one key.  “For information regarding your account, press or say 2….” “TWO!” I bellow. “For a new or existing problem press or say 4… for passengers with questions regarding intercontinental, European or Mid-Atlantic travel press or say 5… For customers who would like to be passengers but don’t have time to redeem their miles because they don’t have enough time to go live the rest of their lives as it is AND get through the prompts every time they call to try and redeem them please visit our website at w.wealreadyhaveyourmoney& To speak to a customer service representative, please stay on the line and someone will be with you (or hang up on you, whichever comes first) shortly.” 

“Aloooo, my names is Sityuiol Mitzdanub,” says a man (I think) who can barely speak English, with a very heavy Indian accent. “Thank you for calling, it’s a pleasure to serve you today and for your convenience this call may be recorded so that we can blame you if you say yes to anything and try and pretend you didn’t, in the future.” *The small print that accompanies your card that gives you all those rewards you’ll never really get says you will have to pay for any litigation, too. “How can I help you today…Mizzz… Comperto?” “Helloo, it’s Comaroto, not Comperto.” “Yes…thank you Miss Comperto…how can I help you today?” “Finally, I have been on hold for almost 23 minutes now!” “I am so sorry for the inconvenience Mizz Comparto, can you please give me your account number so I can better assist you?” “You mean the one I already gave you and punched in all eighteen thousand digits a half hour ago?” “Yes, Mizz Comparto, that’s the one.” “Why do I have to punch in the numbers and then tell you the numbers too, if you know you’re going to ask me to tell you tell you every time I call? Did the system do something else with those numbers? I mean, where do they go the first time?” “I am sorry for the inconvenience, Mizz Comperto, to better assist you I am going to place you on a short hold for one moment.” “No, no, no, wait…” Arghghh. He was gone. What was I thinking?

To their credit there was some great music, an old Air Supply song, but then suddenly no sound…nothing. I wonder, Did they hang up on me…again? I don’t dare hang up, even though I am furious that I have to be on this stupid call; they should have a card that racks up extra miles for all the hours you spend trying to redeem your points you have worked your ass off for. I push the phone into my head to see if I can hear anything and then…”Your business is important to us, thank you for holding.” Then nothing again. I have literally over half an hour invested so there’s no way I am hanging up now. Did I mention this was my third call? The first two times were not dissimilar except they hung up on me, or placed me on hold for an indeterminate time and then the phone just disconnected. I am now going to call the president of the company and ask him directly what the heck kind of customer service racket they are running and… “Mizz Comparto?” “Oh, hi yes…it’s me. Ms. Comaroto!” “Yesss, Mizz Comparto, I have a Miss Smantha Ng on the line, she will be able to help you.”

“My name is Samantha Nugyen, may I please have your eighteen-thousand-digit account number so I may better assist you at this time, and this call may be monitored for recording purposes,” she says in some accent I don’t recognize, like Asian and Irish mixed together. What does that mean, for recording purposes, I wonder and look around for my card AGAIN…”Didn’t that guy, Guy, give it to you? How come you guys need my number, you know who I am, you keep saying my name …forget it. 875-443-323-232-999999.” “Let me repeat back to you…eeet seben fife, fo, fo fo..” “No, wait, wait, FFFOUR, fourrr, fourrrr, right, you mean four?” “Yes, fo, fo, fo, fo!” “No, only three fo’s…fours…arghhh.” Okay, now I am starting to get bunged…” And the last three digits of your social for security purposes.” Who needs security? I think, no one can even get to the point around here.  I give it to her, with my teeth gnashed. “Okay Miss Comparto…how can I help you with your gold card account today?” “I don’t have a gold account…wait..I have a silver account, I pressed silver, can you do silver?” I plead. “This is the gold membership department, you need the silver membership department, Miss Comparto, I am going to place you on hold for a brief moment. Just one moment while I transfer your call to the silver department.”

I gasp in disbelief. My cat looks up at me…I look back like what? I hate this…okay! Instead of freaking out, which honestly feels like a really good idea, I decide not to be upset and love everyone instead. Surely no good can come of my coming unraveled and something magical and wonderful will transpire as a result of my patience, sitting on the phone for over an hour now for no reason other than to love all the different people in every department of this airline mileage plus program. And then it happens…“If you wish to make another call please hang up and try your call again….” They hung up on me.

My first thought is to cancel every credit card I own in protest to such blatant incompetence…that’ll show ‘em…right? Or maybe I will write a letter to that Saucy Brit who owns the airlines and tell him that I am going to do a whole radio show on how their airlines seduces you in like a VIRGIN and then wham bam thank you Mizz Comparto…you can’t even pronounce my name the next morning! But I don’t.

And not because I don’t want to: that life force rose up and welled in me like Kali Ma, wanting to spit fire and flames, she’s wanting heads to roll, there would be hell to pay for denying me the right to express myself fully. How dare you hang up on me, not see me, not give me what I deserve, not the least of which is your respect and while we are at it I EARNED those points, they are MINE, I paid for them with MY money, GIVE THEM TO ME… my insides roared with a kind of greedy delight as I sat present to all that wanted to erupt, knowing that I was at that familiar point where a decision needed to be made. Once upon a time that mechanism to reflect and self-inquire (or redirect the storm) was undeveloped in me. I would have I have jumped straight off the cliff from zero to hell, believing I had no choice and, like in this case, would have taken some of the customer service folks along with me.  After years and years of self-inquiry and listening to my inner urgings and longings, I have learned how to identify and constructively redirect them (particularly the ones that want up and out and like freight trains), as their overwhelming nature and urgency has the potential for so much damage; guilt, shame, remorse, and worse. Like losing jobs, partners and more.

Today I have a practice that includes rigorous and vigilant inquiry into my feelings, emotions, thoughts, and actions, and my responsibility to and for them. This responsibility expands to include everything I experience. And my history illustrates the divine benefits of having matured enough to be able to respond rather than react, which in this split second of evolution for me looks something like…hmmmm, what am I going to choose to do here? From the eye of the tornado the forecast looks entirely different. I choose to express myself entirely, with respect and abandon; to see myself, to acknowledge my own self in a way that will not hurt me or anyone else. I write. I write until I empty it all the way out. And what used to in the beginning feel like taming the beast or securing myself to the earth in the midst of a tornado now feels like a rocket ship ready to launch with a clear destination. 5-4-3-2…

I pick up the phone, one more time, this time paying attention to every number I press, remembering the tricks I learned the last three times, and decide, I will prevail. I take a firm grasp of the situation, “No more or less than is necessary” as my teacher would say, and forge on. Not a victim nor a villain, just “chop wood, carry water”; if you’re like me, with some sass on the side!

So what’s the moral? Maybe that sometimes it takes what it takes. We have become so impatient, so entitled, so, well…big babies, really! There, I said it! And like my mother’s boyfriend used to tell me, “Maryanne…if you have to shovel a pile of sh&* from one side of the room to the other…you might as well have a good time doin’ it!”