What follows are a few of the impractical skills that I’ve honed over the years: making my children laugh during church services; catching snakes, turtles and a variety of other very bitey wildlife; and, to a lesser degree, committing myriad marital gaffes.
In the latter case, I’m fortunate to have a wife who is not only loving but also very forgiving.
Like a benevolent pontiff lovingly passing out absolution to the masses in St. Peter’s Square, she has forgiven me many transgressions over the past few years, including:
- Bringing a large rat snake into the house while she was away working one weekend afternoon;
- Letting a box turtle roam free in the house for several hours while she was working on another weekend afternoon. (She has a fear not only of snakes but of all reptiles);
- Getting my car stuck in a giant mud hole – twice – while out in the country and requiring it to be pulled out by a wrecker at no small charge;
- Losing my driver’s license in New England while we were on a recent vacation up north, forcing her to not only handle much of the driving from that point forward but also having to deal with a unionized Department of Motor Vehicles employee in Rhode Island who proceeded to display every stereotype connected with the rude, disinterested veteran DMV employee; and
- Committing countless foolish acts too inane or embarrassing to specify through being forgetful, oblivious and/or an all-around general oaf.
Suffice it to say, Mrs. Cotton Boll has received many a flower bouquet over the years from yours truly.
Last week arose yet again another of those instances when it came time for me to try to make amends. But, given the gravity of my latest faux pas, I thought my actions warranted a delivery from florist instead of store-bought flowers. And because we live in the so-called information age I turned to the Internet.
While there’s no question the Internet can do some wonderful things, such as putting an amazing amount of knowledge at our fingertips, I’ve found that it’s been staggeringly proficient at creating chaos, as well.
Let’s just say that my attempt to smooth things over with the Missus by relying on technology has ended up causing an inordinate amount of grief, nearly all of it mine, which is now stretching into its fifth day.
On Thursday, I went online, typed in my hometown and the word “florist.” I foolishly saw a company advertising a deal for $30 off the purchase. (Lesson No. 1: beware of any “deal” offered on the Internet.)
A Michigan-based company called FlowerDeliveryExpress.com was offering an arrangement normally priced at $69.99 for $39.99. Stupid me, I fell for the gimmick and begin filling out the online form.
That price, I found out after I had completed much of the information, didn’t include such little trivialities as the card, vase, service fees or taxes. I also paid an extra $5 for same-day delivery. (When you really screw up, time is of the essence, right?)
By the time all the “extras” were added in, the $39.99 flowers were $84.35.
But what the heck, my wife’s worth it (and I was in some pretty hot water).
I got home late Thursday and Mrs. Cotton Boll was in bed. I was tired and went to bed myself, and simply assumed the flowers had arrived.
However, the next day, I got a call from Mrs. Cotton Boll asking if I’d bought flowers because there was a charge to a florist on our credit card. I asked if she had gotten a bouquet yesterday. Nope.
So, now not only is the surprise ruined, but I’m wondering where the flowers are. I also begin to speculate as to whether my wife is questioning if I sent flowers to someone else.
Thus begins the fun of dealing with a faceless Internet company regarding a problem.
During the next few hours I placed four calls to the company, spending well over an hour on hold alone. Each time I would get a telemarketer who asked me the same information: Name, phone number, email address and order number. They would then tell me someone would call me back shortly. Unsurprisingly, I heard nothing.
Saturday I placed two more calls, and asked to speak with a supervisor. Of course, I had to leave all the same information as the previous day. Each time the minion on the phone then said they would put me through to a higher-up, but eventually, after being on hold for several minutes, I got a recording that told me to leave the same information and that they would get back to me. Again, no call-back.
Yesterday was the same story. Two more attempts to reach a supervisor; two more go-rounds with a low-level telemarketer who got the same information from me; twice I was placed on hold; and twice I ended up leaving, by now, messages that were, shall we say, frosty.
Of course, by Sunday, my messages included that additional caveat that I simply wanted my order cancelled and my money refunded. As with all the earlier calls, I was told that someone would get back to me.
I’m still waiting.
The best part? At the end of each conversation with a representative from FlowerDeliveryExpress.com. I was asked if there was anything else they could do for me? I would reply, more tersely each time, that, no, there was nothing else that I needed. I realize these individuals were almost certainly reading from a script but what did they expect, that I was going to order more flowers?
Lesson learned: sending flowers to say you’re sorry is a wasted effort when the offering is delayed so long that the intended recipient sees the charge on the online credit card statement and the intended recipient begins to wonder just who the transgressor is actually sending flowers to.
Also, stick to buying local whenever possible; at least you know where to go when someone needs to be held liable for screwing up.
A final shout out to FlowerDeliveryExpress.com: Thanks for nothing, guys; I can get in hot water with the Missus all by myself.