My husband and I rarely fight. We don't even bicker. I like him and he likes me, and now that the children are out of the house and the dog is dead and we no longer have orthodontia to pay for, a yard to mow or very much laundry to fold, there is little fodder for argument. Then, out of the blue last week (actually out of the gray), a lightning bolt fried our cable box and frizzled our nerves. The kids never caused marital discord the likes of which we experienced when the cable box died. Neither did the dog, the yard, the orthodontist, the laundry or even sex or money, which are the two issues most responsible for today's high divorce rate.
We don't even like TV very much. Recently we became hooked on The Newsroom, we watch Mad Men religiously and we totally enjoyed Homeland (though by the time it returns I'll forget what it was about). We get the bad news of the day from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. The rest of the time we read or rent movies or go for walks. Our fight had nothing to do with missing out on a few days of screen time that we can recover through reruns. Rather, we fought over who was going to miss out on a few totally irreplaceable hours of life by dangling "on hold" with Verizon.
Harold and I have reached the age when the phrase "time is precious" actually means something to us. The years leading up to our childless, dogless, yardless life flew by in a New York minute. We know our remaining years will do the same. There are many things we don't have time for these days, not the least of which is waiting on one end of a telephone call listening to endless repetitive songs by The Carpenters or Yanni and getting lulled into a subconscious state only to be awakened every five minutes by an automated voice thanking us for continuing to hold and assuring us that someone will be with us shortly.
We spent an hour on opening arguments. Harold presented his busy schedule and I presented mine. His schedule leads to a good income and mine leads to a blog in The Huffington Post. The income prevailed. Next, we argued over why income always prevails when I enjoy what I do as much as he enjoys his work. One thing led to another, and an hour later we were fighting about a frivolous nonreturnable purchase I made in 1983. I called Verizon to atone for my 30-year-old lapse in judgment. And I was put on hold.
While I was on hold I hatched an idea for Verizon. To make the wait a little more pleasant for their customers and generally foster good will, particularly among those who no longer have their entire lives ahead of them, I propose they plug the following data into their phone menu:
You have reached Verizon. Calls are being answered in the order in which they arrived. You are number 14,321 in line. A customer service agent will be with you in approximately 16 hours and 12 minutes. In the meantime...
Press 1 if you would like to listen to muzak
Press 2 if you would like to listen to real music.
For those who press 1:
Press 1 if you would like to listen to The Beatles
Press 2 if you would like to listen to Simon and Garfunkle
Press 3 if you would like to listen to just Simon
Press 4 if you would like to listen to something from this century
For those who press 2:
Press 1 if you would like to listen to The Carpenters
Press 2 if you would like to listen to Yanni
Press 3 if you would like to play a game:
For those who press 3:
Press 1 if you would like to play 20 questions
Press 2 if you would like to play Geography
Press 3 if you would like to play I Spy
Press 4 if you would like to sing a song:
For those who press 4:
Press 1 if you would like to sing "Old McDonald"
Press 2 if you would like to sing "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da." If you don't know the words, return to the Main Menu and press 1 for real music. Press 1 again for The Beatles.
Press 3 if you would like to count down bottles of beer on the wall.
For those who press 3:
Press 1 if you'd like to start with 200 bottles of beer on the wall
Press 2 if you'd like to start with 10,000 bottles of beer on the wall
Press 3 if you'd like to start with a million bottles of beer on the wall.
If you feel like shooting yourself in the head:
Press 1 if you are pro-gun
Press 2 if you are in favor of gun control
I think it would work. And I'll have a chance to see if they implemented my suggestion because I got so worked up over being on hold so long I threw my cell phone against the wall. I have to call Verizon to fix it.