Sometimes it's amazing when technology works bizarrely in your favor.
My dad is 93 and a year or so ago decided he just didn't want to have to be the one keeping track of all his bills and paying them, so I took that over. I changed the mailing addresses, and everything is sent to me now. For some reason, though, some business occasionally decide that this doesn't mean I'm authorized to deal with his account. They can send me his billing statements, but if I call them up with a question or what to address something on the bill they sent me which I'm paying, they can't tell me anything.
(This reached Alice in Wonderland heights last week when a business wouldn't tell me over the phone what was on the next statement. "So, let me get this straight," I said. "You won't tell me what's on the statement which you will be sending to me in two weeks." "That's right." "Got it.")
What usually then happens is that I have to get them to talk to my dad for him to say he wants me on the account. Some times that has occurred when I've been in Chicago, and I just walk the phone over to him. One time that this occurred I said to the person, "So, let me get this straight. I could have just have walked the phone over to anyone and had them said I was authorized, and you wouldn't have known the difference, right?" "Well...I can't actually tell you that that would be the case." "Got it."
Sometimes though it crops up when I'm in Los Angeles, and that makes things much dicier. And that's what happened the other day. I was trying to straighten out a problem on his Comcast cable bill that had just arrived. And they couldn't work it out, because I wasn't authorized to discuss the bill that they sent me. So, they had to get my father's authorization. Which was gong to be difficult, given that he was elsewhere.
Perhaps we could just do a conference call, the woman suggested. Not possible since I didn't have that capability with the phone we were speaking on. I could always have my dad call, but that would be a mess, and he wouldn't reach this same woman who knew the situation at this point.
Ah, but then I had a brainstorm. "How about if I called my dad on my cell phone, but him on speaker and had him talk with you that way?" That would work, she said. Alas, when I called, my dad -- who tends to stay in his apartment almost all the time -- was out. He was at a "Memoirs Story Group" he likes at the residence where he lives. Aghhh, the best laid plans of mice and men...
But then I had another though. My dad loves playing solitaire on his mobile phone. Just loves, loves, loves it. So, maybe he took his phone with him. I called -- and he answered! He did have his phone. "I'm in the middle of Memoirs," he said. I knew, but I just needed him to authorize me on his Comcast account. I put him my mobile -- calling his mobile phone -- on speaker, and then put my home phone on speaker and got my father and the Comcast rep talking. And it all got resolved!
And technology wins the day. Hubba.
And yes, it was all for a really stupid reason. But it worked.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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