i liked it so much better when the telephone company was a monopoly and they actually cared whether or not your phones worked. now that everyone owns their own phones which, by the way, are built to last about as long as a box of chocolate chip cookies in the house of a pre-menstrual woman, (which is a whole other story) the phone company could care less. oh, they will come out to your home if you beg and plead and promise them $85.60 an hour (how they came up with the 60 cents is beyond me - as if $85 weren't enough) but will they fix your phone? - not so fast.
yesterday, my first telephone repairman, brad, assured me that my phone was fine, it was my doorbell that was causing the problem. i thanked him and signed a receipt promising to pay $85.60 on my next phone bill. two hours later the line was dead. the next day jim showed up. he tested everything, pulled out a plug, replugged a plug and the phone was fixed (according to jim). another $85.60 and two hours later - you guessed it - the phone went dead.
the lady at the phone company was very sympathetic. she promised to send someone out right away. sure enough, within an hour, dave showed up on my doorstep. dave was different than brad and jim. dave wanted me to participate in the process. he wanted me to stand with him, in the mud and thorny bushes on the side of the house and peer into the cobwebby phone box. dave wanted to explain where the red and yellow wires came from, where they go and what the blue ones did. i told dave i didn't care that much about the wires, but not wanting to offend him and sensing he wanted company (a telephone repairman's life is a lonely one) i offered to run in the house and get him a diet coke. once inside i never came out. when dave finally found me he had bad news. contrary to what brad thought, dave had to chuckle for a minute over brad's little mistake, it was not the doorbell, it was the shower. that's right. dave's theory was that the phones weren't working because there was a leak in the master bedroom shower that backs up to the phone box. he let me know that the plumber would probably have to rip out the back wall of the shower. the back wall that was covered with tiny little, hard to find and even harder to match, tiles. apparently not trusting me after i had run out on him in the thorny bushes, dave suggested i call the plumber in front of him. feeling like a truant school girl i did as i was told and bade dave a fond farewell. ten minutes later there was knock at my front door. dave again. i was starting to think stalker and wondering if my next door neighbor, who has never spoken a word to me in seven years, would be willing to come to my aid should dave suddenly go postal.
it turned out that dave didn't want to kill me he just wanted to share with me another theory he had about my troublesome phones. after giving it some thought he had come up with the idea that perhaps it was a leak in my water heater not my shower. he had driven half a block before the thought had dawned on him. a phone repairman that really cared. this time i actually did give him a diet coke. my phones still don't work but my faith in the phone company has been restored.