Tag Archives: Mountain Bell

The Lunch Box Cruncher


I’ve decided I’m finally going to come clean.  I’m the guy that ran over your lunch box in April of 1974.  Maybe it was the spring of 1975, I’m not really sure, but I know you’ve been looking for me ever since.  I was the driver of the white Ford sedan with the Mountain Bell logo on both doors and the 800 number in the back that told you to call if you had a problem with my driving.  I got away clean, so I guess you didn’t get the number.  I’m guessing you were eight or nine at the time.  I saw you clearly in the rear view mirror.

To be honest, which I clearly couldn’t be, since I didn’t stop and at least give you lunch money or even apologize for accidentally flattening your metal lunch box, I didn’t mean to do it,  and I didn’t even see it.  I knew I ran over something  though and then I saw you run over to your crushed lunch box and hold it up in disbelief.  Just so you know, I can still see it.  It’s haunted me for a lot of years.

Let me explain.  I was given the responsibility to collect the pay phone route once a week after the person that had been doing it resigned.  They decided not to replace him, and instead give me the responsibility.  It got me out of the office once a week, so I was more than happy to accept.  The job involved driving the company car, which required you to take a “Defensive Driving” class that was a full day at company headquarters in Cheyenne.  The manager got me scheduled for the class, and I headed out from Laramie, Wyoming, where I worked in the business office, early in the morning.  The drive to Cheyenne would take about an hour, and I really wasn’t sure where the hell I was going.  It was pre-GPS,  I didn’t have a “real” map, just a hand-drawn one, and I had never been to the “plant” building where the class was held.  So I gave myself plenty of time to make the 8:00 start time in the event that I got lost.

And I did get lost.  Which is why I was traveling down the rural gravel road, having missed the turn a quarter-mile back.   I realized I had missed the turn , but I couldn’t find anywhere to turn around, and then I saw the bus stop turnout.  There were some kids there, standing off to the side, waiting for the bus, and I clearly had enough room to make a turn and head back the other direction.  That’s when I saw you running toward the car, and I had no idea what you were doing.  Then I scored the direct hit on the lunch box and sped off down the gravel road, hoping, but worried none-the-less, that you weren’t quick enough to get the number off the trunk of the car.  I worried all day.  I was going to a defensive driving class to get my company permit, and a call from your mother or father, would have put the kibosh on that for sure.  After eight hours of watching movies, practicing reaction times, driving a company van around town verbally describing all the safe things I was doing while I propelled the vehicle in traffic, would have been for nothing.  I wouldn’t get my company permit because I totaled a lunch box that morning on my way to class.

So, almost forty years later, I’m reaching out to you, sort of.  In retrospect, you shouldn’t have put the lunch box down in the first place.  You should have protected it better.  I still believe that you ate lunch that day.  I’m certain you were able to pry the box open and get your lunch out of there.  You must have been resourceful enough for that.  But I’m guessing you got in trouble when you brought the lunch box home and explained to your mother what horrible thing had happened at the bus stop that morning.  The crazed driver in the Mountain Bell car that didn’t even stop after he drove over, what I’m sure, was you’re favorite lunch box of all time.  “The Fonz,” or the “Six Million Dollar Man,” or “Batman,” or “Laugh In.”  Maybe you claimed you lost it, and had to take your lunch in a brown paper sack for a while.  School was almost over the year anyway.  Now that I think about it, I’m sure the “Thermos” bottle was toast, so the sack lunch wouldn’t have been that big of an issue for a few weeks.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not offering to pay for the lunch box.  I didn’t have enough money on me at the time to buy myself lunch that day.  I’m not offering that as an excuse, just thought I should state the facts.  I’ve struggled with this, like I mentioned, for a long time, and I still don’t know what the “right” thing would have been to do.  I really don’t.  Should I have stopped and apologized and given you the two dollars I had in my wallet?  Would it have made any difference?

Anyway, if you were the kid in Cheyenne, Wyoming that got his lunch box crushed by a white Ford sedan with that prominent bell and circle logo on both doors at the bus stop on that morning in April 1974 or 1975, that was me.  At the very least, I’m sorry you left it lying where you did.

   

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I Told Her I Was Going To Tell Everyone I Knew!


I’m moving to New Mexico.  Yes it’s in the United States, and yes they speak English.  I’m just pointing that out, because when I worked for Mountain Bell back in the day, I would get those two questions a lot when people called in to the Business Office.  That’s what they called it, the “Mountain Bell Business Office.”  I held the distinction, at the time, of being the only male service representative in the state.  I think I was the only male service rep in the entire company, but it was during the time they were trying to get people into “non-traditional jobs,” like putting girls up poles, and putting guys in desk chairs.  It was a whole different “consent decree” world for the Bell System and a few years short of its breakup as a monopoly.  The Consent Decree was signed with the Federal Government to insure that woman and minorities would be hired in a reverse discrimination method that favored woman and minorities, however it also got me my first job when I dropped out of college in 1973.

So, I’m moving, relocating, whatever you want to call it, and I clearly understand that every expense I incur is tax-deductible.  Especially since I am relocating, technically, to find work.  The unemployment rate up here in Nevada is still running in the double digits.  Not a good place to find a job.  New Mexico is a little better, but not great, but my daughters and their families live there, and I lived there for 12 years back in the late 70’s and 80’s.

The move has been a coordination nightmare.  I’ve had to move out of a house, put stuff in a storage unit, make two runs down to New Mexico with a cargo trailer, and I still have a load left.  It was left in a storage unit at “RR Self Storage” (Double R Self Storage) in Reno, Nevada.  I paid for July, and I paid for August.  Ninety-five dollars a month.  Paid up until the 31st of August, but I needed one extra day.  ONE extra day because I was working until the 31st and wasn’t getting the rental truck until September 1st, Thursday.  I didn’t want to pay another $95 for one day.

So I read on the “Notice of Intent to Vacate” that I could notify them “before the 1st” if I needed an extra day or two into the month and they would pro-rate the rent.  They “would be happy to accommodate” this one time request.  In bold letters it says “Partial Rent Will Not Be Refunded.”  And it also explains that if you are not out by the pre-arranged move out day, you will be charged for the full month.  Seemed fair and it was the 26th of August.  Almost a week before the 1st.

So I go into the office with my “Notice of Intent to Vacate” filled in with September 2, 2011 as my last day of occupancy, after I got off work on Friday.  I will have the U-Haul truck on the 1st, and will load it then, but I figure one more day just to be safe.

I hand the form to the rotund (trying to be nice) girl on the other side of the counter, and I had to reach out pretty good because she’s pretty rotund.  And she just says, “Okay” and puts in on the work surface behind the counter.

I says to her, “You’re going to pro-rate those last two days, right?

“Nope,” she says, if you leave on the 2nd you’ll have to pay for the full month.”

I looked at Her Rotundity in surprise.  “It says here that you will be happy to pro-rate the rent if I let you know before the first.”  I leaned over the counter and pointed to the sheet.  I’m not that rotund.

Her Rotundness turns (not a pretty sight) and starts to walk away.  Turns back to me momentarily and says, “If you leave on the 2nd you owe for the full month?”

“Ninety-five dollars for one day,” I scream.  No… I screamed it.

“Yes,” she says.

“That doesn’t seem fair,” was all I could say.  I scooped up the vacate notice and said that I wasn’t moving until the end of September then.

Her Rotundity’s cheery and helpful response, said in a syrupy attempt at customer service, “Sure, why rush.  Take your time.  You have the whole month.”

That’s when the steam blew out the ears and I turned and got out of there before I hurt someone or something.

I sat in my truck down the street and read, and re-read the clause about being happy to pro-rate the rent.  Then I read it again.  It still said to me that if I let them know before the first, they would pro-rate any extra days, but then it said in bold type again, no day to day rent allowed.  Sounded contradictory.  Then it hit me.  I would need to know a month ahead of time when I would be vacating the space for them to be happy to help me and pro-rate the rent.  In other words, I would have had to tell them before August 1st, that I was not leaving until September 2nd.  The clause is written so as to completely confuse the renter, who will almost always think that they are going to pro-rate the rent for them if they tell them before the first of the month that they will only need it for a few more days.

Then I thought, well the rent may be do on the first, but they don’t lock me out until the third, and don’t charge me a late fee until the 5th.  So I could clean the unit out on the first anyway, and let them try to get the $95 out of me.  By the time all the late fees and penalties were added up, I would owe them more like $200 though.  They might go after that.  Plus they didn’t say they had to wait until the third to lock me out, so they could technically do it on the first when rent was due which would put me in a real bind from a coordination standpoint.  And they now knew that I was moving out on the 2nd.

We moved everything out on Saturday.  I had to re-coordinate the move schedule, the help I’m going to need, and I damn near ripped my arm off moving a refrigerator in the back of a pickup.  Which is scary in itself because a refrigerator sticks up pretty high in the bed of a pickup truck.  And every time I move this $2,400 LG Refrigerator, it gets more dents and more scratches.  It’s been a serious thorn in my side, Jesus reference aside.

Saturday, after the last load was in my truck, I pulled into the office of the “Double R Self Storage” at 880 Maestro Drive, Reno, NV 89511, (775) 853-4466.  I crossed off the date, wrote in August 26th, and walked into the office.  I pitched the vacate notice at the same fat lady in the same black outfit sitting in an itty-bitty  black office chair creaking under the strain, and said, “Here, I’m out.”

I looked right at her and said, “Oh, and I wanted to thank you for your understanding and for helping me out.”

She said, “You’re welcome.” 

I said as I turned and walked away, “..and I’m telling everybody I know.”  So now I have.

I’ve got two questions.  Why do fat people always wear black?  Where the FLUFFY did customer service go?  That place made $190 off of me, and I would have told everyone I knew how great they were about pro-rating the last few days of rent to help me out.  Didn’t go down that way though.

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