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Camp Meeker Beat - Tom Austin - March 2016


Camp Meeker Beat - March 2016

by Tom Austin

You’ll have to forgive me if this column is a little loopy. It’s been a very intense week for me, joy and anguish and frustration and love flying thick and fast among friends and loved ones. To top it off, I’ve had a drink or two and am firmly in sentimental drunkenness. How loopy? I’m watching an old Laverne and Shirley rerun and I just want to hug them and sing that schlemiel, schlimazel song with them. They’re just so adorable! 

Here’s a frustration item: I got a call from the nice folks at Gene Gaffney insurance notifying me that my insurance carrier, Hartford something or other, will probably not renew my homeowner’s insurance when it expires come May. There’s a good chance you have gotten a similar call, as Hartford something or other is getting a little pissy about insuring homeowners out here in the Wild West County. Seems that the kind of things that happen around here – trees falling, raccoon nibbles, who knows? – are interfering in their ability to siphon wealth from us homeowners unimpeded by messy things like claims. For them, the ideal business model is one where they collect premiums month after month from people who are never so rude as to expect a little help when nature does its chaotic, unpredictable thing and breaks stuff. To which I say “so long, Hartford something or other. Don’t let the door hit you in your fat greedy butt on the way out.”

And while I’m on a roll…Comcast can suck rocks. You hear that, you big corporate bastards? See, I have a Comcast account, which has always included a personal web page. Mine is nothing fancy, mind you, just something for me and a few of my rabid baseball fan friends. I run a league that was started in St. Louis in 1995 and continues to this day. Well, this year the page wouldn’t load for a while, so I contacted Comcast customer “support”. Yes, it is in quotes intentionally. What else can I say after talking to no less than five “customer supporters” to try to get the problem resolved? The first three had no understanding of the problem, and every time they tried to help my modem went down and had to be reset. The next one told me bald-faced lies and told me my browser settings were wrong. The last one finally took pity on me and told me that Comcast had in fact discontinued the personal web pages four months previously. Would have been nice to let me know! He was merciful enough to point me to an online forum where I could bitch and moan with the hundreds of other enraged customers. 

I guess this is the part where I tie all this together with a bow, in a grand metaphor both poetic and pragmatic, not to mention having some remote bearing on Camp Meeker. Hey, I’m sure it’s buried in there somewhere. It’s part of the long story those of us in the west county know so well: they used to call it “benign neglect”, though I really fail to see the benign part. You see, we’re inconvenient out here. We don’t live in nice neat houses on wide suburban streets, the better to be serviced by what’s left of the tattered concept of customer service. Our streets are narrow and windy, and those who come out here to deliver and fix and pick up better know the area and have some savvy. They can’t just send one of their standard trucks driven by the interchangeable cog driver of the day. This interferes with their ability to make money, and they don’t like that. It forces them to think of us as human beings and not just wallets.

So let’s close on a positive note and thank those local companies who know us and still serve us. The propane companies that know to send the small truck just before the gas runs out (thanks, McPhail!). The plumbers and furnace guys (thanks, Rooter Express!) and stove repairmen and tree repairmen (thanks, Fine Tree Care!). We know we’re kind of a pain out here, and we’re happy you’re here to help. And we’re happy to keep you in business.