This really happened

March 18, 2021

Photo by Reid Champagne

   Carol asked the Mesa, AZ Verizon representative whether, because we’d forgotten the Samsung charger back at home, getting a new charger cable would be covered under our device insurance. I’m not kidding. I asked her to repeat what she actually asked, and she confirmed her question both times.

   Although I’m pretty sure the representative went home that night with a story to tell (“she was a very sweet lady, but did Boomers grow up in some kind of Chutes and Ladders paradise?”), Carol is neither naive nor a conniver. But she was married to an inveterate and irrepressible entrepreneur for more than forty-five years. Beside seeing first hand how every angle, both real and imagined, might be worked, Carol learned a trick or two herself about squeezing resources during those inevitable setbacks and low spots along the entrepreneurial trail.

Carol has the chutzpah of a New Yorker when it comes to working a retail associate, as opposed to my approach, which has a tendency to risk involvement of law enforcement.

   Carol persists and perseveres, but does so without a hint of bullying or bravado. Not only is failure not an option, success is the minimum level of achievement. She’s gotten to know me so well that she can pinpoint the moment I’ll quit on something, and be ready with the proper tool in hand I hadn’t even thought of using to complete the job. She’s also taken to a form of triage on projects, separating out the ones (like picture hanging, or anything having to do with a drill) that she already knows better than to ask me to do. (I can refill the hummingbird feeders on my own, as long as I do so over the sink.)

   Carol has the chutzpah of a New Yorker when it comes to working a retail associate, as opposed to my approach, which has a tendency to risk involvement of law enforcement.

   But it’s also her determination that impresses me, especially when it comes to returning things.

   First, Carol keeps receipts. That, in and of itself, isn’t unusual. I keep receipts for that matter. But Carol knows where she keeps them. I keep most of mine in my back jeans pocket, which I don’t find until after the spin cycle of the next wash. She will also return things that break, even when it’s the fault of the user.

   Recently, I bought one of those high-tech rabbit style corkscrews, because I thought it was both easy to use and idiot-proof. (I was always stripping the gears on those double-levered ones.) It turned out not to be idiot-proof, and Carol was able to point out what this idiot was doing wrong that caused its gears to strip. Even though it was my fault, she noted I had nevertheless managed to break it within the money-back guarantee period. She pulled the receipt of the original from exactly where she’d put it, and in a matter of days, Happy Hour was once again working like a well-oiled machine.

   She’s on a first name basis with the UPS associates by now, and I consider her navigating skills when it comes to Verizon warranty returns to be world class. But I’ll have to meet that Verizon representative one day, and casually ask him who posed the most audacious warranty question he’s ever been asked. And I’ll be proud to tell him I’m married to her.

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