all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
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Sunday, February 13, 2005

customer service

Sundays are for
cleaning the fridge and
watering the plants and
putting away the laundry I'd done
days ago.
Sundays are for the cleanse
before the week,
the soaping up, a kind of
spiritual cotton swab swipe.
Sundays are for bike rides and
chocolate chip cookie dough and
hippie hill's doped up drummers and
the liquid mudslide of midday espresso.
Sundays are for sneakers and tanktops and
swigs of water from a pink canteen.
Sundays are for the delightful swerve
into the park's wide lanes.
sundays are for windy escapades
on a sand-swept boardwalk with
dropped ice cream remnants and
forgotten gas receipts and
careless ATM withdrawals and trying
to avoid the sea gull shit.

Instead,
I'm doing a verbal dance with the Dell
customer service representative.
I don't know what I'm being
charged for, I keep announcing
to the ether of the phone wires,
I've PAID for this already, I insist and
she says, I'm sorry, and We didn't receive, and
There's no record, and Do you have the
Return Authorization Code and
We can't do anything about it
without the tracking numbers.

And I feel like a poor facsimile
of a James Bond heroine, unable to slip through
the cruel, clanging fiberoptic hoops,
the perfect parting shot,
don't have an alibi except a raw nerve.
This is the umpteenth time, I say, and
Why isn't this settled yet, and
Why are you still calling me.
As if she's obsessed, my coy Dell mistress,
as if she's aobsessed with me,
the way she keeps calling,
begging for answers, holding my invoice
over my head like a love letter
I composed her years ago,
some intention I'd made of a perpetual commitment
which I withdrew without so much as a
warning, explanation, kind word, reason. No
apologetic kiss, or follow-up tenderness, I did not check in again
and now, left to the devices of a madwoman,
the Dell girl tracks me down each week, pleading, pleading
Where is it, the check, your payment, we can
do this over the phone if you'd like, it's that
easy, phone payment, we can do that,
her voice downshifting into what I bet she imagines is a purr but
it's more like this, a bitter, lovesick whine,
coercing, guilt-edged, naked as a blade.
And each week I refuse, saying I owe nothing, saying I gave
everything, returned the merchandise exactly
as it came to me, I owe nothing, nothing, nothing, I breathe
into the wires like a reckless mantra, I owe you nothing.
I yank at the words like the tug-of-war rope, as if
my life depended on it,
the credit, a wrong being righted,
the collection service avoided,
I put all of my strength into an afternoon's delirious refusal,
I won't I won't I won't
give IN
I am thrashing, ungiving, ungiving,
I won't give this to you
I won't give this to you.
My fingers twist at the phone
while upstairs on the deck
all my plants are dying.

3 comments:

Dale said...

Ow.

Norene said...

I think this is one of the definitive experiences of modern life, this customer service phone hell. I've been through it, everyone's been through it, and you've so aptly described it.

There's a great episode of This American Life that deals with this subject. It's episode #253, "The Middle of Nowhere." You can find it at www.thislife.org.

Neil said...

Is it resolved yet?