Saturday, January 8, 2011

Diamond Jill Saves the Day

I'm back to screening phone calls.

I came *this* close to overcoming my dislike of the telephone but then I spent a good portion of the day yesterday on hold and waiting for promised return calls -- a well known (and laughable) pledge that went unfullfilled. 

I don't want to blame any particular entity for my dislike of the apparatus. 

I certainly would not want Linda, head of the Flooring Department at... oh, let's say... The Lone Alp Home Depot Store... to feel that she failed in any way, whatsoever.  Would I divulge that she placed a large order, charged to one of my many high-ceilinged credit cards, without informing me of the quote for the job?  Would I let on that Linda ordered the wrong product?  Would I let slip that she then claimed she didn't know how to order things "over that there internet"?  Did I mention that she was in charge of an entire department?

I now recognize the moment in our conversations when Linda grabbed onto her safety net.  In the middle of her confusing the square footage of our wing in the Manor with the price of tea in China, she paused and blurted out:  "D'ya want me to call Corporate?"

Apparently, "calling Corporate" is what Linda does best, and may well constitute 99% of what Linda actually accomplishes in the course of her workday.  It sloughes pesky responsibility off of her broad shoulders (I imagine them as broad.  Very broad.).  And she cannot be bothered to call you back unless and until she has received her own return call... from Corporate.

I made eight calls to The Lone Alp Home Depot.  Three resulted in an actual conversation;  None resulted in the resolution of anyone's problem, except perhaps in Linda's case, as she almost purrs when dialing Corporate.  I made an additional five calls to MeasureComp, three of which were spent interminably holding, finally ending in frustrated hangups.  These are not good customer service stats.

So this morning, I resolved to let all calls go unanswered, as usual.

Still, when I heard ringing a few moments ago, I didn't let a full minute elapse before checking voice mail.

And I am so glad!

Sure, it wasn't for me.  Or Fred.  Nor was it for one of the 144 Haddock Manor Domestic Staff (139 of those positions are familial inheritances -- a situation I aim to explain one of these days, color-coded ancestry charts in hand).

It wasn't even a purposefully misguided caller for La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore, who will jot down Fred and my private numbers on a proffered pub matchbook when she is trying to avoid a liaison that looks to have little chance.   It doesn't happen very much anymore.

Less and less, in fact.

And that's not due to a lack of matchbooks, as they are a craze in Tête de Hergé.  It's not that anyone smokes -- the last smoker died in 1989 -- no, it's due to the artisan candle collecting craze.  What is amazing is that we haven't suffered a rash of manor, castle, or monastery fires, thanks mostly to our medieval stone foundations, slate roofing tile, and exceedingly well-maintained wattle and daub.  Sure, we generally have oak framing, but here is the secret:  It is *English* oak!

So... errr, yeah.  We collect matchbooks here. 

Moving right along to the voice mail!   
It was a wrong number.
But what a glorious wrong number!

It was the grande dame of local drag, Diamond Jill.  She is a transplant from the USAmerican South, and proves it with every languid syllable. 

I could almost see her flaming red locks as I listened to her breathy message:

"Dah-lin'!  It's Diamond Jill!" Her delight in announcing herself was infectious.  Why, I was delighted she'd called!

She speaks a dying language of Old-Fashioned Southern, with a vocabulary that waxes and wanes between the obscure and the grandiose, but that totally escapes the trap of outrageous whimsy.

She went on to express her interest in, of all things, a used car for sale.  I feel like rushing out and buying one so that I can call the lovely lady back and offer it at half price.

I know her story well, as do most Tête de Hergéens.  The boy was an accomplished dresser at age 5, thanks to a stylish older sister and a liberal-minded, slightly absent mother.  An early stint in the Marines only heightened the acuity of her couture, and probably authored the precision and work ethic that drives her singing career today.  It may also have something to do with her dedication to all things peaceloving...

Anyway, after all the time spent yesterday being barraged by Linda's halting misquotes and ineptitudes, it was a pleasure to hear Diamond Jill's verbal talents, so smooth that she's currently booked in every straight music club west of the Lone Alp.  I wonder if we could get her for next summer's Manor Fest?  The Cistercians would go wild...

"Ah'll be home all mohnin', dah-lin'.  Give us a call!"

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