Life lesson from my mom: Jewish women cannot vacuum. And apparently she’s right.

My mother, all-knowing fount of wisdom that she is, has long maintained that Jewish women cannot vacuum.

Now, I’ve always believed that her hypothesis was somewhat along the lines of my hypothesis that Jews do not go to Walmart. In theory, I’m sure some Jews have been to Walmart before, but because I don’t want to go to Walmart ever in my life, I use that as my rationale for not going. My mother has no intention of vacuuming, so I assumed she says that she can’t to avoid it.

But I, on a poor, pitiful teacher’s salary, cannot afford a housekeeper. And my mother, for no reason that I can understand other than sheer meanness, refuses to pay for hers to come clean my house.

So from time to time, I find myself required to break her dictum against our people using that particular household instrument and actually use a device that sucks the dirt off of my carpet. (Which only came after what basically boiled down to my losing a giant game of “Not It!” against the boyfriend to determine who had to vacuum. We’re very mature at Casa De Goodman.)

So, being adaptable, I dusted off the vacuum, brought it into the bedroom, plugged it in, and pushed the power button.


At which point absolutely nothing happened.

Well, that’s not exactly true. The power on that entire wall went out. Both sides. Meaning I no longer had cable, internet, power to either the bedroom or living room tv, my laptop, or any of my other entertainment providing devices. Not good.

But I’ve lived in my apartment for seven-and-a-half years now. I’ve had power issues before with only two resulting fires and one near-death electrocution incident. So I consider myself quite the expert at finding the fuse box and flipping the circuit breakers. But no breakers had tripped. I tried flipping them all anyway. Which meant I had a trembling dog perched on top of my head because Rosie is terrified whenever the power goes out and starts shaking uncontrollably. Then she either needs to find the highest ground she can (ie the top of my head) or hide behind the toilet. Apparently those are the two safest spots to be in an electrical emergency.

But it didn’t fix the problem.

Meaning it was time to call in the pro—my dad. I called him and began explaining the problem, but he cut me off before I could finish. “Wait,” he said. “I thought Jewish women couldn’t vacuum.” 

I sighed and continued, pretending I couldn’t hear my mother in the background yelling, “See? Jewish women CAN’T vacuum! Look what happens when we try!”

“Flip the circuit breakers,” he advised. I told him I had already done that. “Well, then you’re f*****.”

Thanks dad. Really. Thank you. And thank you for then leaving the country for Mexico instead of coming over to help with the problem. Particle astrophysics conference my ass. I think you went on vacation to avoid rewiring my house!

But I digress.

And unfortunately, because my father and I have a good relationship, I don’t have daddy issues. So instead of finding a guy just like my dad, meaning a physicist, the boyfriend is an English nerd like me. And apparently so are my building’s maintenance guys because after doing the exact same thing I’d already done (flipping the circuit breakers), and some head scratching, they told me to call an electrician.

Which, I suppose, is better than what I expected them to do, which was put a giant hole in my wall trying to fix the wiring. I was one-hundred percent convinced I would come home from school on Tuesday to find a gaping vortex in the drywall and no sign of Rosie except the scraping sound of her little gremlin feet inside the walls and a creepy voice saying, “Carol Ann, go into the light!”

So okay, I called the electrician that my maintenance guys recommended. Three days, multiple phone calls and voicemails later, he still hasn’t called me back. My current theory is that he too went to Mexico to avoid fixing my wiring, or else is stuck in someone else’s wall vortex.


But the more pressing issue was that I hadn’t gotten to watch Mad Men from Sunday night yet. And the clock was ticking! If I didn’t watch it soon, I was going to go insane and start killing people.

Not to mention the fact that the maintenance guys made it worse and cut the power to my entire bedroom, so I was stuck without cable, internet, OR lights.

The boyfriend didn’t seem to care. Having spent three years living in his aunt’s cabin in District 12, he’s used to surviving without power or television. And without those basic necessities, I began to realize that Katniss doesn’t volunteer as tribute to save her sister. Oh no. She volunteers for the chance to get the hell out of the boonies and be able to freaking watch Mad Men like a normal person!

Several recommendations later, I placed calls to about six electricians, and the one who called back first and was able to come to my house that afternoon won. He fixed the problem with ease (making me wonder, what the hell am I paying such an exorbitant condo fee for if my maintenance guys can’t figure out something so simple that, had they not scared me about touching the wiring, I could have done myself?), and at minimal cost.

But we had to move some furniture to get to the outlets.

Which is when we found the mouse poop.

Ah, the joys of owning a condo.

But at least I got to watch Mad Men, so all is right with the world.

And I was able to say definitively to the boyfriend, with an abundant amount of evidence and an electrician’s bill to prove it, that Jewish women cannot vacuum, and it is therefore now his job when we clean the apartment.

Which, in the end, was worth the hassle.

But not the mouse poop. Be warned little mousie, I’m investing all of my resources into the war on mouse terror that I’m now launching and I’m far more efficient than the US at destroying terrorist cells in my land!

Game on.

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Well, I have internet and cable again…for now… but I still hate FiOS

Friday’s blog created a little bit of a stir online, so I figured it deserved a follow-up explaining the incident that sparked the song and letter to Comcast.

I’d been a Comcast subscriber in every apartment I’d had since graduating from college. That didn’t really make me a Comcast fan, however. In general, I’m against any company that holds a monopoly because with no other options, there’s no reason to keep prices low or provide high-quality service.

And there were plenty of times when Comcast royally pissed me off, usually relating to the commonly-held misconception that any woman who calls for help with cable or internet service must have the television on the wrong setting because she can’t possibly understand how these things work.

Which, if they’ve spoken to my grandmother, I understand why they would feel that way.

But because I’m actually fairly tech-savvy, I get annoyed quickly with customer service people who automatically assume that two x-chromosomes make you an idiot. And I had that experience with Comcast on quite a few occasions.

Up until last March, however, I had no other options if I wanted high speed internet and cable tv. My condo rules prevent me from getting a satellite dish, and no other services were available in my building. So even though there were other companies around, Comcast held a de-facto monopoly in my building. Which, through no fault of their own, annoyed me.

So when a FiOS rep came to my door one Sunday afternoon, offering a faster internet, more high definition channels, and lower prices on a different network that was newly available in my building, it sounded like a great deal.

And for the first month, I was thrilled. Sure it took all day to install the new service for no reason that I could understand. And true, my internet didn’t actually seem any faster. And it was annoying to learn a whole new set of channels. But I was out of Comcast’s monopoly! I couldn’t have been happier.

Then my first bill arrived. The FiOS rep who had sold me on FiOS had told me that my total bill, with internet and cable, including a multi-room DVR, HBO and Showtime, would be $99 a month. So I was pretty surprised when my bill was well over $200 a month.

I called FiOS, positive that they had made a mistake. “No,” I was told. It was no mistake. The representative must have made a mistake when he gave me that price. But while they were terribly sorry, there was nothing they could do about it. I had signed a contract and to end that contract early would cost me $360.

I was pissed off, but there wasn’t anything I could do. And as long as my service was working, I wasn’t that unhappy.

The first time my FiOS tv and internet went out completely was in June. I’d gone to see the Gaslight Anthem in NYC, came back very late the same night, and when I woke up the next morning, I realized my service had been out since the previous afternoon. I called FiOS, and they got a repairman out the same day to fix it. I was awed—Comcast had never been that quick. Granted, Comcast almost never needed to send anyone out to fix a problem—most Comcast problems could be fixed with a reset signal. But after that, it worked fine through the whole summer and most of the fall.

Until three weeks ago, when it stopped for no reason.

This time, I was pretty annoyed. There’s no reason for a service person to be sent out twice in six months. It happened on a Wednesday, and after two hours on hold and another forty-five minutes of walking through troubleshooting over the phone, I was told that the earliest anyone could come to fix it would be the following Tuesday. I said that was unacceptable, spoke with a supervisor, and was eventually given a repair date of Friday, between 1 and 5, but as I couldn’t get home until 3, I was assured the repairman would show up after 3.

I didn’t realize that meant 7:30pm. And when I called them to see where the technician was, I was told there was a three-hour grace period. And when the technician DID eventually show up, the problem was that when someone else got FiOS, that tech had pulled my wiring out by mistake.

Three weeks later to the day, the same thing happened. But this time, after speaking to a supervisor, I was told that they could come out Friday between 8am and 8pm, but that I had to be home the whole day to wait.

Which means that they think that a FiOS repairman is more important than a high school teacher.

I made enough of a fuss that they agreed to come after 3 again, because I refused to take off of work for a problem that I hadn’t caused. But of course the technician this time called me at noon to say he was there. I explained that he was just going to have to come back at 3pm, and was not too happy to have to deal with that during a class that I was teaching.

Then, when word of my anti-FiOS internet campaign got around, Verizon Support began tweeting me on Twitter, trying to resolve the problem. Their solution? Log onto their website to register the problem.

I asked the question back on Twitter, how exactly did they expect me to do that when my Verizon internet service wasn’t working? I could tweet from my phone, but really? Wow, way to be out of touch, Verizon!

The technician did show up at 3 that day, ignored me when I told him exactly what the problem had been last time, then seemed surprised when it was the exact problem that I had said it was.

Which means that twice in three weeks, a FiOS technician has screwed up my service and I’ve had to deal with it. They’ve made no effort to adjust my bill for the time that I spent without the services that I’ve paid them for, and no attempt to address the problem with any kind of a real solution.

And on the flip side, Comcast at least showed that they have a sense of humor, by replying to Friday’s blog with a comment saying that they miss me too, forgive me for leaving, and are waiting for me with open arms.

So while I know everyone is exceptionally polarized about which service provider is better, and I know that quite a few Verizon fans would like to argue with me, all I can say at this point is that the next time a FiOS tech messes up my service, I expect to be released from my contract WITHOUT paying the $360 fee. And Comcast, you’ll be getting a call from me as soon as that happens. Which, if the next couple of weeks are anything like the past couple of weeks have been, should be pretty soon.

I hate FiOS… Comcast, baby PLEASE come home!

Dear Comcast,

Well, you said I’d be sorry for leaving you for FiOS, and you were right. This isn’t easy for me to say. I’m not used to crawling back to my exes. But I was wrong to leave you. I miss you, and I want you back.

When you first moved into Cable TV Montgomery’s old building in my neighborhood, I didn’t really notice much difference between you and CTM.  Sorry, I’m just being honest.  I was a kid—what did I know?

But I definitely remember running into you again in college. When you got to the University of Maryland, you were the biggest deal around, which is saying a lot considering we were there when the Terps won the NCAA basketball championship!

Everyone wanted you, and I was the one who was lucky enough to get you. I still remember how special I felt when we would spend time in my dorm room together. We made everyone who still had aluminum foil covered rabbit ears on their televisions so jealous.

Our relationship weathered some incredibly difficult times. You were there with me through September 11—I remember how I felt when you told me what had happened, but you were there with me that whole awful day, reassuring me that it would all be okay. Don’t think that my leaving meant that I didn’t appreciate any of that. I do. And I always will.

I know that you were shocked when I told you it was over between us. Please know that it wasn’t that you did anything wrong specifically. We were fine together. But by the time I left you, we had been together so long that it felt like the spark was gone. And I’m not going to lie, you really hurt me when I wanted us to move to Xfinity together, and you told me that you weren’t ready for that.

If I’m being totally honest, that’s what sent me into the arms of FiOS. You and I had been together for over ten years, and I felt like you weren’t ready to commit to taking that next step with me. And if you weren’t ready then, I felt like you wouldn’t ever be ready. And I didn’t want to spend my whole life waiting for something that wasn’t going to happen.

That’s when I met FiOS. I wasn’t looking to leave; FiOS just showed up at my door one day. Literally. It came knocking at my door, promising me all the things that you weren’t giving me. Fiber Optic speed. More high definition programming. A multi-room DVR. Lower prices than you had. And a commitment to all of that, right away, when after ten years, you still couldn’t give me that. I mean, you didn’t even have Comedy Central in HD. I felt like you were never going to change.

When FIOS and I first got together, I thought I was so happy. Everything felt perfect. I should have known better though. When something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

And in this case, it definitely was. The honeymoon ended quickly. FiOS had much higher fees than I’d been led to believe, and my bill was more than it ever was with you. But I stuck with it anyway, because I still thought I was getting what I wanted.

And imagine how hurt I was when I saw that right after I left, you went to Xfinity with other people! Ten years with me, and a month after I leave, you’re doing THAT? Well, I had no intention of coming back to you after I heard that.

I did see your Xfinity a few times though. I didn’t tell you that I saw it, because I couldn’t face you yet. But I saw. And I was so jealous, because even though I wasn’t ready to admit it, I missed you. And I wondered what was wrong with me that you couldn’t give ME Xfinity. I kept telling myself I’d made the right choice, because FiOS was giving me the things you weren’t. But that wasn’t true. And I wasn’t happy.

Last night was the final straw though. FiOS didn’t come home. Again. With no explanation, no reason, no warning. And as I sat there, with no cable, internet, or phone service, I asked myself what I was doing.

I tried calling last night to get an explanation about the sudden disappearing act. But the only answer I got was that I should wait at home from 8am today until 8pm for FiOS to come back. A twelve-hour window of waiting. And I said okay! That’s how bad the relationship had gotten. I was never a doormat like that before. And as I sat there with no distractions to prevent me from thinking about the situation, I realized that I deserve better than this. And the only time that I really GOT better treatment was when I was with you.

I don’t want to fight with you or rehash any of the problems that you and I had over the years. We were both wrong at times. But I realized something important last night: I don’t love FiOS. I don’t even LIKE FiOS. I liked the idea of FiOS, but the reality never once measured up to the image I had in my head. And in all the years I spent with you, I never felt as unappreciated as I did last night.

Comcast, I’m so sorry for the way I treated you. I should have told you what I was feeling and waited until you were ready to take the step to Xfinity with me. I know that now. And I don’t know if you can ever forgive me. But I hope you can. It’s over between me and FiOS and I wish I’d never opened my door that day. You’re the one that I want. The only one I can truly be happy with. So Comcast, baby, please, please come home.

Love,

Sara

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned by her cable/internet provider

Last week, I got an Apple TV and a subscription to Netflix, which (because I can buy shoes and groceries online) basically means I will never have to leave my house again.

Of course, because the universe hates me, setting the Apple TV up was NOT as easy as it should have been. According to Apple Support, (iSupport? And for that matter, why isn’t Apple TV called iTV? Actually, it’s probably better as Apple TV. iTV sounds like an STD. Like I picture a doctor talking to a patient and saying, “It’s actually quite serious. You’ve contracted iTV. You’re going to have to notify all of your past sexual partners because they could have been exposed as well.” NOT something you’d want to give as a Christmas present.) it won’t work on my TV at all without being wobbly.

Two days later, the score was my dad: 1, Apple Support: 0. Well played dad, well played.

So I was thrilled at how easily I would be able to watch movies/TV shows/all of the concert videos from my computer.

Which means that something had to go horribly, horribly wrong. Because like the course of true love, my life never runs smooth.

Thank you Verizon Fios, for stepping up to the challenge of screwing everything up.

I suppose I should be grateful. Fios completely dying on me is less expensive to deal with than my TV blowing up or my surround sound amplifier catching on fire. But it’s also more annoying, because I currently have ZERO cable OR internet service.

In other words, I’ve been Amish for the past 36-48 hours, depending on when you’re reading this.

Okay, okay, not TRULY Amish. Because I still have electricity and running water and store-bought butter, and yes, TECHNICALLY I can still get on the internet VERY slowly by using my cell phone as a mobile hotspot and docking it to my computer.  So maybe more Mennonite than Amish. But whatever you call it, it flat out sucks. A lot.

I don’t think of myself as a person who watches a lot of television. I’ve got a handful of shows that I’m addicted to (at the moment, Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, House, Glee, and South Park are all set up to record the series on my dvr), but other than those, I don’t really watch anything else. I can’t stand reality shows or anything on Bravo or E!, so when the cable went out yesterday and the Fios guys told me they couldn’t get anyone out here until Friday, I figured it was a pain, but I would be okay.

About an hour after that phone call, I called Fios support back and BEGGED them to send someone out sooner. In that hour, Rosie and I had somehow regressed to a Lord of the Flies type scenario, with war paint smeared on our faces, a conch shell, spears, and a mysterious beast stalking us through my apartment.

Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. The beast didn’t show up until the second hour without TV or internet.

Luckily, the wait is almost over. In theory. Because, in theory, the Fios repair guy is supposed to show up this afternoon. In theory.

The problem is that the only window they had available was 1pm-5pm today, unless I wanted to wait until Tuesday night. And if I waited until Tuesday, I’m pretty sure that by the time they DID arrive, I’d have “No TV and no beer make Homer go crazy” scribbled all over my walls and it would look like the scene out of Apocalypse Now when they finally find Marlon Brando and he’s a fat psychopath who has enslaved all the natives. I mean, the horror. The horror.

But one to five this afternoon? Um, hello, I have a job! So I warned them that I can’t be there before three today, and I think I made myself sufficiently clear that they absolutely NEEDED to arrive AFTER three.

Which means the guy is going to call me at 1:15 to say he’s there.

And if that happens, God have mercy on everyone who works within a thirty mile radius of any Fios employee. Because I’m not going to go medieval on them. Oh no. Sorry Quentin Tarantino, but that’s not nearly scary enough. I’m going to go biblical. I’m talking darkness and locusts and smiting their first born.

It’s probably not healthy that instead of reading or working on my next book (or even getting ahead on my blog posts), I’ve been sitting here plotting my revenge against Fios for when they show up too early. But I know that’s going to happen. And while I threatened over the phone last night to go back to Comcast, I don’t really want to do that either. Because after years of suffering at the hand of Comcast, I finally freed myself from its evil empire, and I don’t want to go crawling back like a battered woman returning to her abuser again and again.

So Fios guy, if by some chance you’re reading this, I’d show up around 3:15 today if I were you. Because while William Congreve (NOT William Shakespeare, as the line is commonly misattributed to) said, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,” what he MEANT to say was “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned BY HER INTERNET AND CABLE PROVIDER.”

Does the flu shot make you sick? Was Mr. Ed a zebra? Snopes knows the answers!

Yesterday, I ventured into the CVS Minute Clinic to get a flu shot. While I won’t bore you with the specifics (like how it never actually takes a minute and I always feel like the other people sitting there waiting are riddled with diseases that they’re just dying to spread to me), it was overall a relatively painless procedure.

What wasn’t painless, however, was TELLING people that I was going to get a flu shot after school.

Because it seems that 99.9999 percent of the population still thinks that you get the flu when you get a flu shot. And trying to tell the flu shot disparagers that that’s an urban legend is pointless. Because they all either think it happened to them or they think it happened to someone they know.

It didn’t.

That theory doesn’t even make sense. By that logic, when you get the smallpox vaccine, you’d get smallpox. And smallpox has been eradicated. (For the vocabulary-challenged people out there, that means smallpox has gone bye-bye. Forever.)

But telling people that the flu shot doesn’t give you the flu is an utterly lost cause. So instead, I direct them to one of my two favorite websites in the world: http://www.snopes.com/.

Snopes is the urban legend website, and it is truly one of the best things that the internet has brought us (primarily because I firmly believe that Facebook and Twitter are ruining the world, but I’ll talk about that another day).

I could literally spend days on Snopes. It has everything under the sun on there and is WAY more reliable than Wikipedia (because I can’t edit it to say that I’m married to Bruce Springsteen like I can on Wikipedia… which I do once a year to show my journalism kids that you can’t trust Wikipedia. Sorry, Patti. I DO always change it back immediately though. And I only vandalize Wikipedia for educational purposes!)

Get a sappy email about a kid with cancer who needs your help? Look it up on Snopes. It’s fake. Get one warning you about gang members killing people who flash their brights on the highway? Fake. Snopes says so. Alligators in the sewers? Nope. Never happened. Find a picture of a ridiculously giant catfish that you KNOW is photoshopped?

Guess what? It’s REAL! It just wasn’t found where the email says it was. But literally. That fish IS that big. Scary stuff! (Although after seeing that picture, no one is ever going to doubt that guy’s penis size. Just saying…)

I use Snopes constantly to prove people wrong. Mostly because I have a horrible habit of not letting something go when I know I’m right. (What can I say? I hate ignorance. It’s probably why I’m a teacher.) It’s how I tried to prove to my brother that Walt Disney is NOT actually cryogenically frozen (although he still doesn’t believe me. Apparently there’s no amount of proof on the planet that will convince him that Walt Disney’s head isn’t in a freezer somewhere).

But I think my favorite thing about Snopes isn’t the fact that it lets me show off my superior knowledge and research skills every time my grandma sends me an email warning me about something that happened to a friend of a friend of a friend of hers that I desperately NEED to watch out for.

My favorite thing is the “Lost Legends” section. If you haven’t played on this site, go check that part out before you read further. I’ll wait.

Seriously. Go look at the Mr. Ed one. Did you know he was actually a zebra?

I know, it sounds nuts. But Snopes has the inside scoop.  It had something to do with the early black and white filming process.

Don’t read further until you’ve looked at that.

Spoilers are coming.

You’ve been warned.

No, Mr. Ed wasn’t a zebra! How dumb do you feel if you believed that? I mean, come on, a zebra? REALLY?

But Sara, Snopes said it and you said they know everything! That’s not fair.

That’s the whole reason I love Snopes. All of the “Lost Legends” are fake. There’s a full explanation here, but the basic gist of it is that the creators of Snopes are trying to make the point that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Did you learn your lesson? I mean, Snopes is legit, but did you REALLY, even for a MINUTE, think that Mr. Ed was a zebra? Gullible much?

There is, however, one website that is better than Snopes. There are some that are ALMOST as good (like www.venganza.org/, which is the official website for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Love it!), but only ONE website is actually better.

Yes.

I’m talking about http://www.catsthatlooklikehitler.com/.

BEST. WEBSITE. EVER. EVER! (Yes, that one had to go in a bigger font. Just to make sure you understand the awesomeness of Cats That Look Like Hitler.)

First of all, the fact that anyone even came up with this site is genius. Second, look at the cats! They actually LOOK LIKE HITLER! Which helps to prove my theory that cats are evil, anti-Semitic, and out to destroy the world. But really, I could look at this site over and over and over again.

But this site actually proves something that even Snopes couldn’t disprove (because it turns out to be true). Cats are wrong. Hitler is wrong. But when you combine those two particular wrongs, they create something SO right.

Because no matter how much I hate cats, I just can’t hate them when they look like Hitler. And they do. A lot.

Catsthatlooklikehitler.com = genius. Pure and simple. If you’re the person who created it, call me. I think we should be friends. Partially because I have a dog that looks like Einstein. But mostly because your site is my favorite thing on the internet.

Well, okay, that’s not ENTIRELY true. It’s my favorite website.

My favorite thing on the internet is this video.

Cats That Look Like Hitler come in a close second though. And Snopes is third.