Telephone box Dec 2013

Well it looks like we were spared from the winter tempest but Toronto got the full brunt. Some people will be out of power there until Christmas. Freezing rain knocked down trees and smashed into cars and roofs. Isn’t winter great? Here we simply got another 10cm of snow which fortunately we were able to clear this morning. Snowblower worked even though I used a full tank of gas. Something wrong with that 200 pound beast but, fingers crossed, it keeps working. Looks like this is going to be the mother of all snowy winters.

On that thought, in the midst of potential weather uncertainties it is good to have your phone working. I have a cell but maintain the old landline because it feels so right. Yesterday afternoon my daughter called me on my cell to tell me my landline wasn’t working. Turns out our Bell home phone was dead and so was my mother’s. Go figure. Two in the same house. Bad weather must be the reason. Now I must say that the phones have worked pretty well here non-stop since 1986, so this was something.

I called Bell repair. They were unfortunately experiencing a higher volume of calls than normal so I stayed on the line for 30 minutes so as not to lose my spot. Just thinking about that: do they ever have a normal volume of calls? And what is a normal volume of calls anyway? Must have been the snow storm and the freezing rain. Eventually made an appointment for Sunday between 12 and 5pm. Sunday, isn’t that good service?

On Sunday morning, my mom reminded me that her phone wasn’t working. I thought that it would be a good idea to call Bell repair to let them know there were two phones not working at our address, not one. I (eventually) got a pleasant sounding person and we chatted about the two different accounts, my mother living with us, etc. And then I asked her where she was – thinking perhaps Toronto, or Belleville, or even Vancouver. “India”, she says. Now that freaked me out a little, particularly when she had been so understanding of my commentary about the bad weather. Timidly I asked, “Have you ever seen snow?” to which she stated categorically “yes” but couldn’t recall when. I told her that I would not be surprised if the repair guy didn’t make it today, what with freezing rain. He would be there, she asserted. But I had to tell her what freezing rain was.I don’t think she could appreciate the subtleties of inch thick ice on your windshield (or is it windscreen?) though. Don’t think she could envision the unplowed roads either but I didn’t even get into what that meant.

She tried hard to sort out the two phones at the same address dilemma. With the help of a supervisor (“thank you for waiting”) she gave me two ticket numbers which I was to convey to the bell repairman when he arrived. Sure enough while she is giving me the tickets numbers, the Bell Repair guy called. I was proud of the way I put her on hold and talked to him on my cell. He hung up, I resumed my call with the lady from India and as we said goodbye she thanked me, saying it was her most interesting call of the day. She also wished me a Merry Christmas. “Thanks”, I said, but what should I say to her? “Merry Christmas to you too?” No. Just hang up.

Meanwhile, I had agreed to pick up a second-hand sleigh purchased on Facebook by my daughter. I had told the repair guy I would be back shortly. “No prob” said he, he had to go to the jeewi box? . When the repairman arrived, the sleigh had been retrieved, the jeewi box closed or whatever is done to it. I immediately took the man downstairs to my telephone service box.

I told him that in over 25 years the box had grown rather untidy but he said he had seen worse. I told him I had some experience in telephony and repair, having served as a manager repairman in Owen Sound for four months during the great Bell strike of 1988 (see post Summer of ’36 in Time Gone By). He was polite but I could see he was also very unimpressed. Quickly he got my mom’s phone working. As he started to mount the stairs to go outside to look into the other line, I noticed his bright orange hip waders which were obviously specially designed for snow excursions.

I felt this was the opportune moment to recount my great Bell Strike story of the pig farmer who required repair when he cut the bell cable in his leaking septic field. I explained how I had cleverly given the farmer who was dressed in hip waders yet covered from head to toe with reeking sewage a lesson in how to repair a cable using the broken cable connector box kit.  The Bell guy simply said he had done many rural areas and on several occasions had done the septic/telephone repair work himself (without giving the repair kit to the client I presumed). Now that is what I call a guy with experience. Anyway, in less than an hour he had both phones working again and confided that he thought the phones had been incorrectly reinstalled a couple of months ago when a Bell Fibe guy came to convert me to the new internet/tv package. (I actually lasted only one day with Bell Fibe as the tv and particularly the internet service seemed of such poor quality that I quickly went back to my cable provider – oh joy).

Just after the impressive repair guy left, my wife answered the door and lo and behold another Bell repair guy showed up at the door while I was in the shower. Could it have been that my India customer service lady sent two guys?

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not criticizing Bell. I was very happy that they came out on a Sunday to fix our phones. I must admit that the India customer service lady was a joy to talk to, the repair guy was extremely effective, and his hip waders triggered a memory image of the famous pig farmer of Owen Sound. Not sure whether the image was as satisfying to him though as it was for me to recall it.

Anyway, the real question is: who got credit for the two repair tickets?