Gary D's Take

Benjamin Franklin was right!

My favorite philosopher Ben Franklin once said ” Blessed is he who expects nothing for he shall be continually surprised.” My recent experience with an AT&T service issue at my house is a good example of this. Nothing accurately sums up my expectations for customer service from AT&T. I don’t have an expectation of any at all. And like Ben, I am amazed and surprised at what I got.

The gas company has put a new line in on my road so that one of my neighbors can get service from them. While they were burying it , they also decided to modify the underground line that brings telephone and Internet to my house. They installed a 4 inch air gap where my line crosses the ditch they were working in. For those of you not familiar with an air gap, it is an absolutely fool proof method of stopping spam, Internet viruses, email, telephone calls , web pages and all forms of outside communication short of smoke signals, war drums and carrier pigeons. I called AT&T the day it happened which was a Tuesday and in normal AT&T fashion, they confirmed that there was trouble on the line (DUH) and that they would have my issue resolved by Monday at 8pm. Now a 7 day wait for restoral of my service would be intolerable but 6 days……thank you AT&T! Back in the day, when they gave you a long resolution time, Bellsouth would show up early but not AT&T, when they say 6 days they are true to their commitment.

Anyway, I caught the guys working for the gas company and informed them that they had severed my phone line. The crew supervisor informed me that all the telephone lines in my neighborhood were aerial and that wasn’t possible. I confirmed to him that all the lines were aerial..EXCEPT MINE! I showed him the spot where the cut had occurred and his locator indeed confirmed that something metal was underground there. He dug down about 8 inches and there sat my line right above his brand new gas line.He apologized for my inconvenience and said he wished there was something he could do, which there wasn’t of course. His efforts to speed up the phone company were as futile as mine, AT&T held fast to their commitment to be there Monday. As a side note, I am not done with Marshall County Gas yet. I channeled my inner phoneman and applied a temporary splice to restore service to my house and settled in to wait for AT&T.

Monday afternoon, as promised, the AT&T repairman arrived.There is something in the telephone company lexicon called referral. This is an extension of the famous “that’s not my job” method of operation that encourages employees of public utilities to “refer” things like buried cables and billing problems to the “proper” department. Which causes the duration of your problem to be lengthened as much as possible. That is what I expected to happen. I fully expected my problem to be “referred” to engineering for replacement of my drop. Engineering is even more short staffed and overbooked than repair so I was prepared for Christmas and New Year without a repair. Surprisingly, that didn’t happen! The young man who came to my house efficiently and professionally spliced my cable and even reburied it! As much as I would like to send a commendation to his supervisor and mention his name here, I won’t. You see he told me that he really was supposed to refer my problem and that he was going over the time allotted to him to fix my issue. I won’t name him or send a heartfelt and much deserved letter of thanks to AT&T because I am afraid I would get him fired! Whoo HOO! Go AT&T!

Patriotism isn’t dead…..it’s just hiding in small towns and out of the way places.

A friend of mine from high scool posted this on his facebook page:

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND TO THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL!

MY GENERATION GREW UP RECITING THIS EVERY MORNING IN SCHOOL WITH MY HAND ON MY HEART. THEY NO LONGER DO THAT FOR FEAR OF OFFENDING SOMEONE!

LET’S SEE HOW MANY AMERICANS WILL RE-POST THIS AND NOT CARE ABOUT OFFENDING SOMEONE

I reposted it of course. I also added this note:

I was at a fireworks show last night in Locust Fork , Alabama. Right before it started they played the National Amthem and everyone stood up with hats off and hands on hearts. Patriotism isn’t dead…..it’s just hiding in small towns and out of the way places.
God bless everyone and GOD BLESS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

I forget sometimes that we have developed this complex about offending someone. My mother used to say , “If you are ashamed of something, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.” When I stand and salute during the National Anthem or face the flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance, it never occurs to me that I might OFFEND someone. When I bow my head and say a silent blessing before I eat, I don’t look around and see if I am OFFENDING someone. Neither am I offended when I see Muslim women with their heads covered in scarves or my Catholic friends cross themselves. When I was in Canada, the playing of Oh Canada didn’t bother me in any way. In Saudi Arabia, prayers to Mecca didn’t upset me. Tolerance is the ultimate expression of the American ideal! Its why we are here! It is what makes this country great! AND….tolerance is a two way street…… you give it and you have the right to expect it in return.

The Essence of American Freedom

I was looking up the quote, “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I found that there was actually some controversy centered around this. the quote is popularly attributed to french philosopher Voltaire but has recently been traced to the writings of Evelyn Beatrice Hall in her book “Friends of Voltaire” Evidently Evelyn thought this was something that Voltaire would have said.

It occured to me that this statement summed up the essence of what America is all about. Interesting that it came from a frenchman…..but then so did the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,

 

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
 
It may seem odd that some of the greatest wisdom about our country comes from people who didn’t live here but then if you think about it,the best perspective is sometimes the one from a little distance.

 

History tells us everything we need to know about why this country came to be and what makes it great. Human nature being what it is, the message and more importantly the IDEAS have gotten watered down over the last 200 plus years but I believe that they live on in our hearts. All it takes is a refresher course to bring them back to us.
 
Naturally I am going to put a technological spin on this. I was doing an article for our newsletter about business advice from Benjamin Franklin and it occured to me that all of that wealth of knowledge that is the thoughts and ideas of our founding fathers is at our finger tips. Just do a Google for American Revolution or Patrick Henry:
“I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”
Patrick Henry, n.d.

Samuel Adams
“Driven from every other corner of the earth, freedom of thought and the right of private judgment in the matters of conscience direct their course to this happy country as the last asylum.”
 


Thomas Paine
“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”
Benjamin Rush
“Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families.”
What I love most about these quotes is their clarity. No one needs to guess what was on the minds of these men. No interpretation is needed.
I urge you to do a Google search of your own. I am sure that you will come away with a renewed enthusiasm for what our country is all about.
Please post what you came away with as a result of your search. Because…..“I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I will even give you a place to say it.