Listen, my fellow downtrodden, and hear,
How I took it as hard as can be up the rear;
Not once, not twice: Can you say “More than three”?
By the Customer Service at AT&T.
They Only Think They’ve Beaten Me
When doctors cut into my body, I prefer to get anesthesia.
After anesthesia, like many people, I throw up.
Unlike many people, I throw up for as many as fourteen hours.
I’ve hit that “personal best” twice.
Good times, good times.
Many anesthesiologists say to me “Oh, that won’t happen with MY special cocktail—Ho, ho, ho!”
Like a jolly St. Narco-less.
I know better, and now do my own preemptive pre-surgical prep:
I get an anti-motion-sickness patch of scopolamine [skoe-POE-la-mean] behind my ear. (Their radio ad is kinda catchy: “A Vomit Queen? Throw blow ex-treme? Sko-POE-la-mean!”)
Scopolomine does cause some grogginess and dizziness.
Remember that: It will be important later on in our story.
Four years ago, I needed two surgeries re-done. (One was actually a re-do of a re-do.) I decided to get ’em both redone at once.
My loving sister Meg came to take care of me while I was a woozy, oozy mess. I slept downstairs on my big blue sofa in my den during my recovery. Meg slept slightly removed in the back guest bedroom. I’m certain it had nothing to do with my snoring.
Four days after surgery, exhausted from fetching and doing for me, Meg did not awaken when I stumbled up off the sofa for the very first time on my own. And chose to take my very first walk outside alone. At 6:00 am.
A walk like a rolling barrel, for I was still under the effects of the anesthesia from surgery, and my second scopolomine patch (replaced post-surgery).
Even so, all would have been well had it not been for the AT&T telephone cable strung across my back door:
I had phoned American Telephone & Tripwire several times asking that they remove the latter. First asking, then insisting. Each time, I was assured they would remove it “right away”.
I had given up for a while—they’d worn me down, and I was ill and occupied with other chores and crises among the day-to-day chores and crises which make up this odd life of mine.
For a year, I had managed to alertly step over the trip-cable, despite its tricky nature, and a subtle drop-and-drag my right foot experiences at times due to one, or the other, of my diseases.
But post-surgical drugged-out zap-happy Babe was not at her cable-avoiding best. So I finally tripped over the tripwire.
Oops. No big. Had it been anyone else.
But my luck runs—differently. (Did you happen to read You All Need To Thank Me?)
Outside that open doorway, I had a half circle before me in which to fall. All of that half-circle was smooth and empty, except for one skinny, skinny pizza slice, way off to my right.
Feet away from AT&T’s cable (at angles 165-170°) was a metal irrigation pump. Atop that pump was a metal valve projecting vertically. Stabbing up toward the sky.
Or up towards the body of someone who has just tripped over an AT&T cable left above-ground and directly across a doorway.
The full weight of my falling body came down upon the handle of that metal valve, which DIRECTLY HIT one of my two surgical sites.
Could happen to anyone.
After slamming into the metal handle of the pump, I then fell off and landed as hard as I could upon one hip, with my opposite leg stretched across the pump. (Don’t ask. I am gifted with unique talents.)
My second surgical site was…intimately placed. My spreadeagled landing started bleeding there anew.
Have I mentioned that I am a particularly lucky gal?
The pain was…stunning. I mean that I lay on the ground, stunned. I was unable to call for help, cry, or even moan. Some of you unfortunately know what it’s like, when you’re just trying to hold your body together and see if it will stay in one piece.
The good news:
My semi-splits did not cause the need for a fourth re-do of my lower-half repair.
The other news:
My semi-shishkebob on the metal valve did require a re-do. I had to undergo a third surgery on my upper body. Followed by physical therapy. For life.
I am left with permanent discomfort (alternating with that p-word that doctors try so hard to avoid), and a permanent DENT in my body. Okay, “dent” is overstating it: It’s more like a divot. Still… I have to SEE that damned thing and be reminded every time of what AT&-damned-T did to me.
Oh, but golly were they prompt at burying the cable once informed of the accident. The sweet gentleman who came out to do the actual work, Charles, had to use a spud bar…
…to break up a shallow concrete layer we discovered under the top two inches of soil. He said “That’s probably why they never buried the cable like they were supposed to—because they found this in the way.”
Did I sue? You bet your #ss I did.
This was the first time I tried to sue anyone. Four years later, when the case was 30 days from expiring, my lawyer told me that, since I’d moved across the country, and my travel wouldn’t be paid for, I might weigh the non-reimbursed costs of airfare and hotels for three trips against my 50/50 chance of winning “an extremely modest amount” (say, in the neighborhood of $10,000–the cost of a year’s medical out-of-pocket for me).
My lawyer reminded me that the state of F#cking Florida® (official state name), unlike the other 49 normal states, considered ME liable to a significant degree for not dealing with the tripwire’s danger. Because, after all, I’d known it was hazardous, and it WAS on MY property.
They had me dead to rights, there, folks, on both points.
“What could I have done?”, I asked.
“I dunno—put a wooden board or a rug over the cable.”
“But—but– But with my right foot-drop, I would have eventually tripped over the BOARD!”, I said.
“You could have paid someone to bury the cable.”
“But– but– Did you know I’d been unemployed for TWO YEARS at that point after becoming disabled? (I am only partly-disabled and am part-time employed now, y’all 🙂 .) That the house was bought “as-is” with no working showers? That I was under a shrink’s treatment for depression?!”
Don’t matter to the law, the judge, or a F#cking Florida® jury, y’all.
So AT&T got clean away with their negligence.
I am left with a reminder every morning (and some nights) for the rest of my life when I wake up in p-word (or discomfort), when I do my remarkably awkward physical therapy exercises, and when I look down and see my little AT&T divot.
Thank you, AT&T.
WHY THIS POST DOESN’T END HERE
This post doesn’t end here because AT&T wasn’t finished with me, yet. But it will be continued in a later post when I’ve calmed down a bit.
There were actually two unburied cables outside my door, and it took me moons after buying my house to determine whom they belonged to.
One was the responsibility of the cable TV company, but I didn’t know WHICH cable co. (they all refused to claim ownership). (I’ve never had cable TV, so had no hookup.) I finally asked a random cable dude if I could safely cut the cable, and got the green light. CHOP! That cable didn’t cross my doorway.
By that point, I had finally learned the doorway tripwire was AT&T’s. I asked the same cable dude if I could safely cut AT&T’s more-hazardous wire.
I cared not a whit if the entire neighborhood lost service, mind you–AT&T would have simply had to finally bury their cable when they came for repairs. He said “99% of the time, yes, but once in a while, no–it can carry a whopper of a charge.”
AT&T later verified this during one of the “We’ll take care of it.” calls when I threatened to cut the cable because they’d been blowing me off:
“Oh, no! You could get electrocuted!” So I was stuck.
F#cking Florida® !
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