It’s the little things

Back in mid-August, I called Comcast to see about reducing our bill. It had been slowly creeping up, and at just over $190 per month, finally seemed too high to keep paying without objecting.

So I called. The person I spoke to was helpful; he figured out a new option, credited back some serviced I’d never wanted, and got the monthly bill reduced by about $50. Success! I felt smug: $50/month is pretty great ROI for a forty-five minute phone call.

Then I got the next month’s bill.

And it was higher than before.

The new bill was now up over $200 for the month. (We also got a giant box of new equipment I hadn’t been expecting, and didn’t particularly want.)

Sigh. The next week was busy at work; I didn’t call. The next week I was due for jury duty, and after a false start where I had to call back the next day, discovered I didn’t need to go in. I decided to use this time to deal with the plethora of small annoying things that accrue in life – like calling Comcast.

So I called.

It turned out that for some reason, several monthly fees had been doubled on the new account, and for reasons unknown, the system had assigned me a new modem that I didn’t request, didn’t want, and didn’t need. The helpful person I spoke to figured things out quickly, credited all the pointless charges back, and told me how to return the unnecessary and unrequested equipment.

All along the way, everyone was friendly, helpful, and reasonably good at problem-solving. But the question remains: why do problems like this need solving in the first place? Why is Comcast’s system built so that it’s possible to charge someone a “regional sports fee” doubled-up? Why did the system not keep track of the fact that I own my own modem, and don’t need to rent one? And going back further than that, if there was a cheaper way for me to get the exact same thing while paying less, why the heck did that not happen automatically (I mean, I know why – because more money – but come on, that’s not a good answer!)?

And most of all: why can’t I feasibly bill Comcast for my time spent fixing their problems?!

Things that are working

Late last week, someone asked me how I was doing. My usual answer to this is, “Good!” because it’s polite, and usually I’d rather talk about something else – but this time, the person who asked is someone I know well, who I have some shared history with, and I answered more honestly:

“I’m actually successfully coping and I’m really damn proud of that.”

There are, of course, plenty of people in the world dealing with tougher stuff than I am. I am not hungry. I am not under physical threat. I am healthy. I am not scared about money.

But. People I care about are going through really tough things. I am busy, legitimately & ridiculously busy, not in an “oh gosh I’m just so busy!” way but no, actually really busy in an “I spend over half an hour each day just getting my schedule to make some sense and not have overlapping things that simply do not work” kind of way. I am in a job that I think I love, but which still feels new, and I feel like I have a lot to learn. I’m facing various kinds of career pressure, some self-imposed, some not. I’m thinking a lot about what I want my life to look like. And I’m about to hit the one-year mark on the Horrible House Remodel, after 3+ prior years of half-remodeling & some moving chaos before that, all of which means I haven’t lived somewhere calm in over five years.

And on the other hand, I am coping. I am going to the gym. I am gardening. I am reading. I am seeing friends. I am seeing family. I am occasionally writing. I am not completely dropping the ball at work, and every so often I come up with a useful insight or approach that I’m proud of. My team is doing well, and I’m getting positive feedback on them from people they in turn work with.

So I’m busy, and not everything is good, but I’m coping, and I am pretty damn proud of that.

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