[Baby Watch: Day 202]
Verizon Sucks, Even for Babies
Recently, the wife and I went to Verizon and purchased two new phones. It was exactly as soul-sucking as we expected, but after multiple hours we left reasonably pleased with our new phones. Within a few days I realized that something was wrong with the speaker on my phone, so I decided to return it to the store to exchange it. I intentionally got there at 9am sharp, so that I could be first in line and hopefully complete the “simple” exchange quickly (insert laughter here). I had no choice but to take Baby Oliver with me. The following is a recounting of the hullabaloo that would ensue.
My first half-hour passed thusly:
Verizon Employee #1 – “Hello sir, and welcome to Verizon. Oh my, your son is very cute and so well-behaved! Feel free to browse around and someone will be right with you.”
Verizon Employee #1 – “Thanks for your patience, sir. I promise someone will be right with you. I can see your son is getting feisty. If you like, I can change the TV channel to find something he may be more interested in?”
Me – “You mean instead of Face/Off, the R-rated action movie in which John Travolta is currently having his face removed? Why wouldn’t that be considered child appropriate?”
Verizon Employee #1 – “Sir, thank you again for choosing Verizon. Is there anything I can do to help stop your child’s crying?”
Me – (glares)
Verizon Employee #1 – “I’m sorry sir. We really are doing our best, and we’ll be with you just as soon as possible, I promise.”
Verizon Employee #1 – “Great news! I’m happy to say we have someone available to assist you! He’s going to be SO helpful, you’ll call him Mr. Helpful!”
Baby Oliver – (glares)
(Side note: how was there a 30 minute wait the minute the store opened?!? Were there customers hiding out in the restrooms overnight so they could be first in line? Did they carpool in with the employees from a park n’ ride? Do customers who show up around closing time just bring sleeping bags and expect to have a 12 hour wait?!?)
I explain my phone’s speaker issue to Mr. Helpful and answer a slew of dumb questions (“Is it possible the volume is just turned down?” Have you tried shaking, hitting it, or lighting it on fire? Has the phone ever been in contact with a large power transformer or toxic sludge?”). Seeing my best “silently belittle the idiot face,” Mr. Helpful retires to the back of the store to get me a new phone.
Another 15 minutes pass. Oliver devolves into a writhing sack of baby.
Finally, “Sorry about that. I had to chat with my boss.” (It is not revealed about what. Rather, the sentence is just left to hang in the air, forcing me to assume that he was literally just shooting the breeze by the water-cooler while I struggled to keep a 6 month old child happy.) “We’re going to go ahead and do this exchange,” Mr. Helpful says proudly. He pauses, perhaps hoping that I will celebrate somehow? Am I supposed to be overtly grateful for this unexpected favor? I mean, I had the receipt, I was within the return period and the product was defective. Fairly sure that anything other than an exchange would be illegal. Still, I flash a slight, ironic smile.
My confusion is short-lived as Oliver decides that, since he has not been receiving enough attention, he will projectile vomit on me. “OH NO, HE’S PUKING,” yells ever-so-cool Mr. Helpful in a complete panic. Oliver smiles as the attention of the entire store turns to him. Proudly, he vomits again.
I grab the burp cloth out of my pocket and begin madly wiping half-digested sour milk from his face, my arm, his clothes, my clothes, etc. When the cloth is thoroughly saturated, Oliver vomits a third time.
I take off his hoodie sweatshirt and begin using it as a rag to sop up the third vomit. A hush has fallen over the store. When I’m nearly done, I sit him on the counter to adjust his clothing, at which point he vomits a fourth and final time, directly onto the Verizon store counter, even splashing some onto the receipt printer.
The total haul of vomit is enough to fill a large Ziploc bag (the kind of bag that actually fits a sandwich, not the kind that says “sandwich size” but rips the crust off the bread as you attempt to cram it through the not nearly large enough opening). The smell is beginning to ooze to all corners of the store, a fact that I mentally verify by witnessing people visibly back-peddling. Mr. Helpful is a full ten feet away, which I quickly learn to be an awkward distance for a casual conversation.
Gradually I get Oliver cleaned up, Mr. Helpful brings a handful of paper towels that I use to clean the counter, and business returns to a normal pace (sloth-esque) and decibel level (comically loud). As we continue our transaction, a good 50 minutes since the time I entered the belly of the beast, Mr. Helpful transitions to the roll of Professor Pushy (alliteration is fun!) and begins trying to sell me a new tablet that I CLEARLY do not want.
“It will save you $4 per month on your bill!”
“But how much is it up front?”
“Only $50! For a brand new tablet!”
“What hidden fees are you not telling me about?”
“There’s a $40 activation fee, but that’s only a total of $90! For a brand new tablet!”
“Yeah, I don’t want it.”
“But you save $4 per month! For a …”
“A brand new tablet, yeah I got it. I don’t need a brand new tablet.”
At this point Oliver begins to freak out. Obviously it’s because he needs a nap and because I’ve had him cooped up in a Verizon store for an hour. If there is an exact opposite of a playground, I think it’s a cell phone store. Verizon: Where playtime goes to die. But Mr. Helpful says, “See, he’s crying because HE wants a new tablet! He can play games on it and watch all of his favorite TV shows . . .”
As Oliver begins to cry harder, I have completely lost my patience. I would storm out of the store, but I’m in cell phone limbo: one phone has been deactivated, but the other has yet to be turned on. They literally have me trapped in a 21st century technology prison that I cannot escape from unless I either agree to purchase a brand new tablet or I totally lose my cool. I choose the later.
“Look man, I don’t want the stupid tablet. I don’t care that it saves me $4 a month. You could offer me $100 right now to stand here and talk to you for 1 more minute, and I’d say no (not true), so just get this thing activated so I can leave before he craps his pants all over your counter.”
The poopy counter threat does the trick, and Mr. Helpful kicks it into high gear. Within 5 minutes I have a newly activated cell phone and I’m heading for the door. After having been thrown up on, annoyed to no end and frustrated beyond belief, I’m finally feeling pretty good about things. I push passed the manager as she says, “Do you have a minute for a quick survey?”
“All 10’s I confidently yell in my most sarcastic voice.” Oliver seems to approve as he stops crying and gives me a smile. I’m not sure which of us is happier to be leaving.
I revel in the minor victory of having accomplished my task as I stroll through the parking lot. Then I hear sweet old woman say very kindly, “My how adorable that baby is!”
“Why thank you!” I say, things looking up.
“He’s so cute, he must look like his mother.”
Stupid, ugly old lady.
While not taken at Verizon, this is Oliver channeling his inner Verizon feelings.