, , ,


Why I haven’t been blogging much lately.

Two months ago (months!), I called our utility company in Glasgow and arranged for our gas and electric accounts to move to the new house. It is, of course, still not done. For those who don’t know about getting utilities connected in Scotland, let me just tell you that there may, possibly, be an industry somewhere that’s less well-run, but I doubt it. They can’t connect your power, disconnect your power, bill you for your power, figure out where your power comes from, or (probably) spell the word POWER. I have no idea how they manage to dress themselves on a daily basis.

Since then, I’ve logged so many on-hold hours just trying to get gas and electricity to the new house, I’d qualify for overtime if this was my actual job.*

*[Or you know, if I had an actual job other than writer, which my friends think means “Sits around drinking coffee and complaining about stuff she doesn’t like.” This is completely false. Sometimes I drink white wine while complaining about stuff I don’t like.]

But instead of writing the next epic bestseller, for the past two months I’ve lived with my phone clipped to my jeans, listening to earnest (recorded) assurances:

  • They’ll be with me soon!
  • Okay, they’ll be with me eventually!
  • They really are quite, quite, very busy helping other customers and my suspicions that there’s a call-center staffed by one person who is working his way through the entire Fifty Shades series, stopping every couple of chapters to answer a phone call is really QUITE inaccurate. (He’s actually watching old Walking Dead boxsets.) 
  • But meanwhile they suggest I get any answers I need from their epically unhelpful website.
  • No? Well, perhaps I’d like to just hang up and someone would absolutely, cross-their-heart-fer-positively call me back. Eventually. Probably…
  • No? Not going to fall for that one again?
  • Then no more Mr. Nicephone! 
  • Cut to THE WORST SONGS ever recorded for on-hold torture. (James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” makes me want to drive heated knitting needles through my eardrums…)

Then disaster struck. My router broke and I couldn’t get wifi, so I couldn’t call them because I haven’t had a landline phone since the early 2000s. They referred me to the website, the one I couldn’t access because of the wifi-less condition I was calling to report. I explained further that due to the equally cell-tower-less condition of our little island, I was in fact conducting this call on my iPhone, which only achieved its single connection dot when I held it out the window of the upstairs loo. (This was not particularly sustainable, as it was below freezing and the sleet was piling up on my phone.)

“Ah,” said the broadband’s customer service guy. “Could you just hold on while I check with…er…” he trailed off. [cue James Blunt. “You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, it’s true…”] I found myself singing along. It was a personal low point.

Eventually, Tech Guy (who actually sounded suspiciously like Customer Service Guy) came back and ran me through a bunch of tests I’d already done myself. I assured him I was of course turning on and off my router at his behest, and instead made up my grocery list.

After several more tests, an ever-growing grocery list, and much James Blunt torture, Tech Guy pronounced my router dead. Which was good, because a friend had left her foodie magazine in my bathroom, and now my grocery list was several pages long. I was just debating whether to add Himalayan Pink Salt or Black Lava Charcoal salt to the Fleur de Sel de Guérande on my grocery list, when Tech Guy proudly informed me they would be sending out a new router.

I explained about lack of phone and internet, and how I really needed both immediately for my work. How else was I going to fund my newly-discovered exotic salt addiction? Tech Guy was confused but sympathetic, and agreed that just this once, because it was clearly an emergency, they would ship out my new router overnight.

I was overjoyed. In just one more day I would be connected to the real world again. I could go back to being on-hold with the utility companies and sticking pins into James Blunt dolls.

A day went by without a router. No problem, I assured myself. Tech Guy probably wasn’t allowing for the router needing to go by ferry.

Another router-less day went by. And another. I tried calling, but the sound of James Blunt’s voice broke me. Instead, I went to Glasgow, where our new house lacks furniture and floors, and still didn’t have working gas and electric accounts, but DID have wifi.

Finally, I went back to the island, sure the router would have arrived by now. I looked in all the usual places`—the porch, the garage, backseat of the spare car we never use. No router. So I poured a big glass of wine and headed for the upstairs loo window. After much James Blunt, more wine, and not a little bit of therapeutic cursage, I spoke to Tech Guy again. He professed astonishment at my routerless state, and vowed to investigate. James Blunt assured me I was beautiful, I was beautiful, I was beautiful, it’s true until Tech Guy’s return. After much throat clearing, he admitted the router was still awaiting shipment because they —and I’m not making this up—WERE WAITING FOR THE TECH DEPARTMENT’S PERMISSION TO OVERNIGHT SHIP. For a week. For real.

I pointed out that he could have hand-carried it to me at an easy walk in that time. (A lie, unless he was a good swimmer and the router packaging was well-waterproofed.) He asked if I could hold while he checked on sending it.


“You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, it’s true…”

(Admit it: you always did secretly think this was happening, right?)

What was your worst on-hold experience?