Oh, you'd better believe I listened closely to the menu options. They may have changed.
I pressed "2" for the "Change service" option. I was canceling my internet, which I'd define as change. In retrospect, that might not have been the correct word. If someone dies, you don't say, "You know, he's changed." But they don't like to even mention the Disconnect word, lest you get ideas.
Eventually, Isaac came on, and I said I wanted to disconnect my internet.
"Whoa!" he said. Seriously: Whoa. I thought he was stunned by the idea that anyone would want to uncouple from the great Teat of Information, but he said he got an incredible burst of static and didn't hear what I said. I repeated my request, and he said he would transfer me to the Disconnect Department.
After a pause, the phone rang three times. And then:
Bee Dee BEEEEE. "If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try again."
It never speaks well of a telecom that disconnects you when trying to connect you to the disconnect department. I called again, and when I got Maria, a nice young lady in Disconnect, she was dismayed I was leaving. As if I were giving up the internet.
I wanted to say, "The internet was OK, I guess. I watched a few videos — l gather it's mostly cats — and bought a book. Read a lot of stuff about this election we've got coming up and got sad. There was this one page that had a quiz that said it could guess my age by my response. It was all about Pop-Tart flavors, and it said I was 73. I heard a lot about the internet but it's just not very accurate. Maybe later when they fix it."
It must be a sad job, being in Disconnect. You do nothing but talk to people who are tired of paying for what you provide and have found someone else to provide it. If you were dating someone who worked in Disconnect and wanted to dump them, you'd never find the right time. Hey, I know you've had a long day, but we need to talk.
"Don't. Even. Start. John."
The horrible thing is: I wasn't completely truthful. I was honest about the service, which was spottier than a Dalmatian in a spin-art booth, and the upload speeds, which were like pushing cold cookie dough through a mite's urethra. But I planned to disconnect my phone, as well.
Why? Because I'm going to an internet phone, or VoIP. (Pronounced "VoIP.") It's ridiculous cheap. Besides, the only people who call the landline are:
• Miserable scam artists who should be vigorously rubbed with a cheese grater and thrown into a vat of lemon juice.
• My mother-in-law.
As far as I know, the Venn Diagram of these two groups shows no overlap. But wait, you say: What about an emergency that overloads the cellphone towers and knocks out your power? It could happen. I'm one of those guys who has buckets of emergency food in the basement and can't wait to say, "Well, looks like power's out for a week. Lucky for us, I've got 96 pouches of beef stroganoff! We'll rub Tang on our gums for dessert."
Calling 911 is another matter, and the brochure for the phone warns you that calling 911 on the VoIP might not be the same. It's not like you'll get a different 911 where the operator says, "I can't call the ambulance, but I can get you an Uber and see if he has some Band-Aids in the glove compartment." It's just that your address might not pop up on the operator's screen. You would have to say it.
So: If I keep the landline, it would mean I want to pay $40 a month in case I am alone, fall down, bite my tongue off and can't say where I live. This seems to be an unlikely scenario. Whereas it is utterly, completely likely the phone will ring tomorrow and someone will say there's not a problem with my credit card but I should take advantage of these new low rates.
I've told my mother-in-law I'm happy with my rates but it just doesn't seem to sink in.
I did get a surprising call on the landline the other day: a guy from the store where I bought my vacuum cleaner, telling me I could bring it in for a free tune-up. I can't imagine a more depressing job. I wished I had the number for Maria from Disconnect; maybe they could go out on a date. They'd have a lot to talk about.
Just not over a landline. Both sounded young. Neither had ever spent a minute unbraiding the tangled cord on the phone that hangs off the wall, any more than I've spent time cleaning whale blubber off my harpoon.