Me vs. T-Mobile

Daryl Watson – Now With Smartphone!

After years of putting it off, I finally gave in and got an iPhone.

This is my old phone. My friend told me that when I used it to type out text messages, it sounded like the Wheel of Fortune wheel spinning.

Getting my new phone up and running wasn’t easy.

First, the phone sales rep screwed up my order and set me up with the wrong plan.  He told me he couldn’t change it right that minute and that it would be easier for me to call customer service the day my new phone arrived in the mail.  I asked him if I could go ahead and port the number of my old phone over to the new one.  He said that also would have to be done the day the phone arrived.

Okay.

The phone arrived as scheduled.  I called T-Mobile customer service and told them that I needed to A) change my plan for this new smartphone and B) switch the phone number from my current pre-paid phone over to the new phone.

The T-Mobile rep was confused. He thought I wanted to change my current pre-paid plan.  So he transferred me to a pre-paid customer service rep.  I told them I didn’t need to switch my pre-paid plan, but I did need to switch the phone number from my pre-paid phone to my smartphone. And I also needed to switch my smartphone plan.

I laid this out as simply as I could.  It wasn’t simple enough.  I was transferred to one person to another person to another person to another person.  By the time I was talking to the fifth person, I’d become one of those irate customers that customer service reps hate getting.

When I was transferred to the sixth person, I hung up.

Maybe this will be easier if I explain it in person, I thought.

I drove down to my neighborhood T-Mobile store.  I walked in and explained to the guy behind the counter that I have two phones: a pre-paid phone and a new smartphone.  I want to transfer the number from the pre-paid phone to the smartphone, and I want to change my current smartphone plan.

“You have to call the customer service people for that,” the man behind the desk said.  He handed me a cordless phone.

I stare at him in silence.

“You can hand the phone back to us once someone picks up,” he said.

I took the phone, held it to my ear and waited.  I heard ringing, then the familiar T-Mobile voice prompt.  I pressed whatever button I had to press to hear the instructions in English.

The next thing I heard was a dial tone.

I handed the phone back to the rep.  “It hung on me,”

“Really?” he said. “That’s weird.”

“Yeah, and honestly, I’m getting really tired of this shit.  I got transferred to five different people when I was on the phone back home and none of them could help me, then I come in here, you give me a phone number to call, and I get hung up on.  I don’t understand why someone here can’t just help me.”

I turned to another customer in the store and said, “You know what I mean?”

The customer laughed and nodded.  That’s when it hit me.  I’ve become that guy – the guy that’s now yelling at the store employees and then turns to other customers in the store for moral support.  I hate it when people do that to other people. I always think Why are you trying to drag me into your shitty situation?

Now I get it.

I felt bad, so I said to the reps  “I’m not trying to take it out on you; I know this isn’t your fault. I’m just frustrated.”

“Of course,” the rep said, “Don’t worry; I’ll get everything set up for you personally.” And he did and everything was fine after that.

Whatever.  At least I didn’t do this:

 

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Boston

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On April 15th, I woke up, determined to have a productive day. I’d write for my clients during the morning and afternoon, and tackle content for this blog at night.

I worked from eight to noon, took a lunch break, flipped on the news for what I thought would be just an hour.

I sat in front of the TV the rest of the day.

I’d also planned on going to a stand-up comedy open mic that night. I decided not to.  I wasn’t feeling very funny.

I imagine a lot of comedians had work that night.  They probably weren’t feeling very funny either.  But if they were getting paid, I imagine they went to work anyways.

Things were better on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Friday, I was back in front of the TV, staring at it like a maniac, flipping back and forth between MSNBC and CNN.  I hated how CNN sensationalized the shit out of everything, but I also couldn’t stop watching.  I kept telling myself it was important to stay informed, but I wondered how much of it was me wanting to be informed and and me wanting to be entertained.

Last week sucked.  I’m glad it’s over.

But it ain’t really over.  Not in the grand scheme of things.  Things like this happen in other parts of the world on a daily basis.

 

 

Sometimes I watch the news, and I just throw up my hands and say, “I have no idea what I can do.  I don’t know how to help.”

That’s a lie.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
Comedy makes me come alive.  Writing makes me come alive.  That’s my job.  And last week, I did the bare minimum, when I should have given it everything I had.
No excuse.  It’s an easier job than most.

Todd Bridges Animated Crack Stories

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Remember Todd Bridges?  He played Willis on the classic 80s sitcom Diff’rent Strokes.

For a number of years, Bridges struggled with crack cocaine addiction.  You can now catch him on Comedy Central’s The Ben Show in a segment called “Todd Bridges Animated Crack Stories.”  The title is self-explanatory.  The stories are hilarious.

When they say comedy is born out of pain, they’re not kidding.  Glad to see Bridges back on top again.

My Brother: Psychologist By Day, Steampunk Author by Night

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My brother is an associate professor of linguistics and psychology at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  He’s smart.  I have only a rudimentary understanding of the work that he does; I know that it has to do with psychology and I know that it has to do with linguistics.

Here’s a fun fact I learned from him: when you say “um” before a sentence, it actually helps the listener focus on what you’re saying, so you shouldn’t necessarily try to eliminate your “ums” while giving a speech.

I used to think of us in terms of yin and yang: him the science guy and me the crazy artist.

Then I got an email from him back in April of 2011.  We were talking about MacBooks, and he casually mentioned to me that he was writing a fiction book that he intended to self-publish.

Good for him! I thought.  Exercising his creativity!  Go ‘head!

Now…I had no idea how far he’d gotten with this book.  I’m thinking this is going to take him a year or two to get to a final draft, let alone publish it.

Less than a month later, I get another email from him, this one addressed to the whole family.  The book is now out and available on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents.

I clicked on the link and my jaw dropped as I saw the cover of the book with the name “D. Girard Watson” on it.

I read the synopsis:

The Gold Engine is a fast-paced, steampunk vision of an alternate reality. 

Steampunk?  I didn’t even know he liked steampunk.  Apparently, nobody in the family knew either, except my sister-in-law and her parents, and they probably only knew because they live with him. 

I kept reading:

Imagine a universe in which electricity doesn’t exist, but gold powered engines enable faster than light travel. The horse and buggy are the primary mode of ground transportation, but humanity has established colonies on planets light years away from Earth.

David Marr is a student of natural philosophy and a mechanical genius. He’s happy spending his days drinking, annoying his peers, and building his masterpiece: a difference engine that can solve any mathematical problem. His life is turned upside down when war erupts between the U.S. and Spain. His father is dead, his advisor is kidnapped, and enemy agents want both David and his knowledge of mechanics…

What the fuck?  How did he knock this out so fast?  How did he juggle being a college professor, husband, and dad, and still bang out a fucking novel?

In any case, The Gold Engine is great, and I’m not just saying that because he’s family.  Once I got into the story, I forgot that he’d even written it; I was totally invested in the characters.  It was a surreal experience, because it showed me a side of my brother that I’d never really seen before.  The story moves quickly; I pretty much blew threw it.  I was disappointed when I reached the last page.  I wanted more.

I didn’t have to wait long.  Five months later – five fucking months later – he knocks out a sequel!

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This one is as good as the original, if not better.

I’m still waiting for him to write the third, but I think he’s busy with work now, so it may be a while.

Go to Amazon.com and get these books.  They’re super cheap and fun to read.  And bug my brother to write that third book.

 

How a Swollen Nutsack Made Me a Believer (Part 1 of the Road to Peace Pilgrim Series)

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Like I said on the About page, there’s a lot that went down between my life in New York and when I  attempted my peace walk.  I’ve decided to chronicle the events that lead up to said walk.  This is the first part.

When I woke up on the morning of August 7, 2005, I felt a massive pain in my groin.  Definitely not the best way to start my 25th birthday.  I pulled down my boxers and had a look.  Everything seemed normal.  I’d been drinking and smoking weed the previous night, so I figured I’d pulled a muscle while in the middle of doing something stupid.

The next day, the pain was worse, and it wasn’t just in the general groin area.  It was coming directly from my left nut.  It was a deep, dull, insistent pain, the kind of pain that makes you nervous because you know something is wrong.  I had ignored it most of the morning.  By the afternoon, it had gotten so bad, it warranted a second look.

I went into the bathroom, took a breath, lowered my drawers, and was greeted with the sight of this…

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Okay, I was going to post a picture of a pair of testicles (not mine!) with an epididymitis infection, but it was so gross I almost puked all over my keyboard.  Since I want you to come back to this site, I decided to omit it.

However, if curiosity is getting the best of you and you have to know exactly what it looks like, you can click here BUT I would advise you not to do that.  Just use your imagination.  Unless you have a stomach of iron or you’re close to a toilet.

For those of you who couldn’t help yourself and ended up clicking on the link, 1) Fucking gross, right? and 2)  Now imagine it black and circumcised – and longer, of course – and you’ll get an idea of what I was looking at.  

Back to the story…

I was in unknown territory.  My balls had never given me much trouble in life.  Now this.  Was it an STD?  I hadn’t had sex in a while, and I always used protection.  Was it ball cancer?  Holy shit, what if I had ball cancer? Would they have to amputate it?  I’d be like Tom Green and Lance Armstrong, only not famous.  I couldn’t even be like, “Well, I only have one ball, but at least I’m famous.”  No.  I’d be a normal, un-famous guy with one testicle.

I called my dad, who’s a doctor.

“You’re fine,” said my dad.  “Don’t panic.”
“Is it testicular cancer?”
“Testicular cancer doesn’t just sprout up over night.  It sounds like you have epididymitis.”
“What’s that?”
“It’s an infection of epididymis.”
“What’s that?”
“It’s the tube that connects the testicles to the vas deferens.”
“It’s really swollen.”
“Uh huh-”
“And red.  And angry-looking.”
“Yep.  That sounds about right.”
“How’d I get it?”
“It’s a bacterial infection, so you could have gotten it a number of ways.  Sex, urinary tract infection, or sometimes bacteria just works its way down there.  It’s hard to say.”

Sometimes bacteria just works its way down there…

“What do I do?”
“I’ll prescribe you some antibiotics.  It should clear up soon.  Just relax and don’t panic.”

As promised, my dad prescribed me the antibiotics.  It was around this time that the pain intensified.  I developed a fever.

Sometimes bacteria just works its way down there…

It hurt to pee.  It hurt to lie down on my left side.  And forget about masturbation.

Sometimes bacteria just works its way down there…

Eventually, the antibiotics did their thing, the infection went away, and the swelling went down.  Physically, I was fine.  It was the psychological damage that got me.

I’d never been a germaphobe before. Now I was.  I constantly washed my hands.  I always had a bottle of hand sanitizer wherever I went.  I was afraid to shake people’s hands and touch door knobs.  I became adept at turning sinks off with my elbows.

I talked my job into giving me health insurance and made regular visits to the doctor.  She told me I was fine, but sent me to some specialists just to make sure.  I complained about pains coming from my liver, so I got an MRI done of my liver and groin.  Everything looked fine, though my doctor noted that my prostate seemed larger than usual.  She recommended I see a urologist.  I went.  The urologist seemed annoyed that my regular doctor had even bothered sending me to him, because my MRI didn’t look the slighest bit unusual.  But since I was already there, he might as well give me a prostate exam.  He noted that I was probably the youngest guy he’d ever examined.

Everyone kept telling me I was fine, but I didn’t feel fine.  Every now and then, I’d feel residual pain in my groin. I also felt a weird tingly sensation throughout my entire body.  My dad kept telling me that it was all psychological.  But the symptoms felt too real.

My OCD got worse, spreading into other areas of my life.  I would check the burners on the stove multiple times before leaving the house.  I would check the locks as well.  My imagination ran wild as I visualized the worst possible things happening to me and people I loved.  I had trouble sleeping.  I developed chronic acid reflux.  My stomach felt like it was on fire.

One night, I was rolling around in my bed, unable to shut off my thoughts.

This is hell, I thought.  I’m creating my own hell.  I’m torturing myself with my own thoughts.

For the first time since I’d left Christianity almost four years ago, I missed God.  I missed the feeling of comfort and security it gave me to know that there was a Supreme Being looking out for me.  Even if that wasn’t true, and I was making the whole thing up in my head,  it didn’t matter. I needed to believe in something.

I was a happier person when I believed in God, so who cared if it was all just make-believe?  As long as I was happy and didn’t hurt anybody, it was my own business what I believed.  So I resolved to start praying again, learn meditation and yoga, and eat better foods. I’d do whatever I needed to do to get back into a healthy state of mind.

There’s a quote from the Kabbalistic text The Work of the Chariot which goes as follows:  “When a man takes one step towards God, God takes more steps toward that man than there are sands in the worlds of time.”

I don’t pretend to know anything about God or the nature of the universe.  I can say this though: once I took that first step, some seriously weird shit started to happen.  My swollen nut and the OCD was just the appetizer.  The main course was still on its way.  And I found out that once you open certain doors in life, you can’t close them.  Ever.

 

Site Update

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I’ve made some cosmetic changes to the site.  It’s got a little color now, and it’s easier to navigate. I hope.

It’s still a work in progress, so feel free to post feedback/ideas/suggestions in the comments section, or shoot me an email.

And if you haven’t already, subscribe to the blog so you can stay up-to-date on all my various hijinks, misadventures, and shenanigans.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

DW