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Merry Christmas!! (delayed)



This was the week that was. Who invented that strange term "utilities"? They should be called "inutilities". For over a week we have been without telephones, except for a few minutes on my "purevoice" line. During one of those happy intervals, Linda Nyquist kindly called to inquire about my health, but whenever the line worked, the whole system seems to have been taken over by the Stanford Golf Course, about which I now have a surfeit of information, as has Linda. I called Pac Bell to complain that my DSL like was not working. I gave my name as Ronald Hilton. Following established routine, the girl asked "May I call you Ronald?" I said testily: "I don't care what you call me so long as you get my DSL line fixed". Following the official script, the girl then asked "What do people usually call you?" I said "Professor Hilton". She replied "That's fine, Ronald...Ronald...Ronald" ad nauseam.

As I type this, the DSL line has still not been fixed. Day after day we were assured that the line would be fixed that day. Lies, lies. I have just called again on my "purevoice" line to inquire when the DSL line would be fixed. Voicemail instructions to me to press 1,2, or 3, etc. I did exactly as instructed, but at the end all I got was a canned voice saying "Thank you for calling. Good-by (or Good-bye)". It should have been "bad-by(e)" I called the DSL people and spoke to a man whose English was incomprehensible. He switched me to a man who spoke English. His first question was "Shall I call you Ronald or Ron?" I said wearily: "I don't care". He thought that was a great joke and said "He,He, He, He". I finally gave up.

For over a day we were without electricity and sat in a darkness punctured by flashlights. I called PG&E, which provides our gas and electricity. A girl, again following the script, asked "What can PG&E's excellent service do for you today?" I told her to stop calling the service "excellent". Lies, lies. It was lousy. After a day or so, the power came back on.

Two years ago I signed up for Cingular cell phone service. It was cingularly bad, in fact it was virtually useless. My assistant, who uses AT&T's cell phone service, had no problems. Whenever I called up to complain, I was told that Cingular was making arrangements to use AT&T's facilities. I finally asked by when this would happen, and was assured that it would be by December. Here were are toward the end of December, and is still has not happened- Lies, lies. During the storm a huge oak fell on our house and did considerable damage. Our Cingular phone was useless. Fortunately my assistant was present with his AT&T cell phone, and we were able to communicate with the outside world. Should I sue Cingular for criminal misrepresentation?

Stanford has closed down for the week to save heat. The server is not working, but when I call the line reserved for computer emergencies, I get someone (I think he is Chinese), who says "I'm just the operator. I've been getting lots of calls, but I can't rouse a technician". In despair I have arranged to use Earthlink and avoid the Stanford system. However, please send any messages to my usual Stanford e-mail address. I'm assured that the Stanford line will be working by December 26. Unfortunately I have lost faith in such assurances. I shall have a very frustrated Christmas, morose over my defeat by THE SYSTEM. But I am determined to defeat it. Meanwhile I wish you and your computers a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS. I could just as well write a VERRY MERY CHRISTMAS. Whatever.

Ronald Hilton - 1/1/03


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