Love and Hate On Hold With Verizon

Published in the New York Times


I know it’s not a good idea to hate anyone. I know from an article I read that negative emotions are bad for my health. I would hate to have a heart attack because my internet isn’t working. But I do hate Verizon.

I spent four hours on the phone with the company on a recent Saturday morning. I know for sure I was disconnected three times. Once I didn’t realize it and just hung around for 20 minutes expecting someone to come back on the line. One person promised me he wouldn’t disappear and even said, “Have I yet?” I said no, and then he disappeared.

I keep forgetting that I don’t have internet, sitting down at my desk, clicking on a browser window and getting the blank screen with the message “Unable to connect.”

I was feeling crazy that I was getting so upset about this. My husband died last October. I blamed my hysteria on the loss of Jerry, not to mention the long summer of the fascism of Trump. With senseless tragedies all over the world, and my own loss, I am for sure anxious and despairing. Feeling on all counts helpless.

At some point during my day on the phone with Verizon, at least two hours in, I had to go through all their prompts again. I yelled at the prompts. Prompts are sinister, because after Verizon disconnects you, you have to call back and obey the rules to get to anyone again.

Some of the people I speak with appear, from their accents, not to be native English speakers. This adds another level of frustration and guilt because I imagine a room full of customer service employees in, say, India, forced to speak to spoiled, angry Americans. One man said he was a supervisor who promised to solve my problems even though it wasn’t his “area,” and he disappeared, too.

While endlessly on hold, I wrote checks. Isn’t that old-fashioned — paying bills by check? But actually at this moment it’s looking smart. No internet needed. I wrote a check to Verizon for $145.88.

I called my friend Deena to rant. She always makes sense of everything, and I thought she would say kindly: “You’re displacing your grief and anger about losing Jerry, and don’t forget the horrific news, the fear that our country is imploding, Trump, no gun control, what might Putin do, and what about Obama? He’s sane, and you’re about to lose him, too. It’s all making you feel helpless.”

Instead, she said that when she and her husband, Marty, changed their internet to AT&T, he almost went crazy. It was a six-month drama. Recently they wanted to make a change in their service but, she said, Marty is still so traumatized that they don’t dare.

This all began because I disconnected one of my two landlines. I don’t need two landlines now that I don’t have Jerry. This is the only change I have attempted to make in my entire life since my husband died, and it has obviously not gone well.

One of my friends (not a psychic) suggested that Jerry did not want me disconnecting his phone, but honestly that doesn’t sound like Jerry. His voice was on the answering service and I recorded it on my cellphone before asking for the disconnect.

He had a great voice — I was madly in love with his voice — and the only place I can hear it now is on this recording. He says, “You have reached Delia Ephron and Jerome Kass, please leave a message.”

In any event, when I asked for one landline to be disconnected, somehow the company also disconnected the DSL on the other landline.

I know it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s how it started. Now for the last month, Verizon has randomly disconnected my internet, and I spend hours on the phone trying to get it back.

I feel bad that I yelled and swore at people just trying to make a living. But then you know what, I didn’t feel bad, because it was 10 p.m. and I still didn’t have an internet connection. And I had to call again, and someone said there was no record of an order. I insisted on a supervisor. She would call, they assured me.

I really did scream. I scared my dog.

It took a nearly week to get my internet back. I spent a lot of time with my computer at coffee shops. As a self-employed writer, completely dependent on the internet, I thought maybe I should sue for loss of work, 10 lattes and emotional distress. Internet access should be free. It’s how people apply for jobs, communicate, find out what to do if they get bee stings or worse.

Being able to afford it is a great advantage. Hillary Clinton should take a position on this: “Unable to connect” will end under her presidency. And throw in an end to all robocalls, too.


published in the New York Times