Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A True Story

A long time ago I worked for the phone company. I was one of those people who answered when you called up declaring your innocence to when you discovered a slew of calls to the Pyschic Hotline on your phone bill. Or more accurately I was the one you got transferred to when you were so pissed off that you started screaming at the first person you were talking to.

One day I got a call from a secretary who was livid on behalf of her very important boss. It seemed that the phone bill on the line at his summer home was doubling every month and he felt we were ripping him off because there was no one in the house to use the phone. If we didn't do something about it immediately he'd report us to the FCC and bring down the wrath of the government on us.

So I pulled up his account and sure enough the balance was doubling every month in the empty house. Another rep had already checked for crossed lines (which can cause you to be billed for other people's calls) so I knew that wasn't the problem. Then I looked closer at the balance.

Apparently this very important personage had overpaid his last bill of the previous summer and had a $5 credit balance. Which he subsequently paid. Giving him a $10 credit balance. When he again paid! This continued on until he got an $80 bill and finally got fed up. I explained this to her and pointed out the notation on the bill that said "credit balance. do not pay." Then I issued a refund check.

So who was this very important man?
The late Supreme Court Chief Justice William Renquist.
I swear it's true.
Brilliant man but couldn't pay a phone bill.
Those will be some tough shoes to fill.
(Looking back I suspect the secretary's FCC threat was her own idea. I've worked for Hollywood producers and I know that "you'll never work in this town again" type ploy is a favorite of over-stressed assistants who are trying to impress their bosses with results.)

By the way, I didn't tell this story to speak ill of the dead. Just to show that these people we deify are in fact very human. I always smiled and remembered this incident when his name was mentioned in the news.


gone said...

Great story. I bet Renquist didn't even pay the bills. His secretary was probably covering her ass. I bet that happens as often in Washington as it does in Hollywood.

Girl With An Alibi said...

You may be right. I know I certainly had to cover my ass a few time in my Hollywood days. :D

Stephanie said...

what an interesting little tidbit.

Brookelina said...

What a great story! I love the threat. Yes, let's bring downt the phone company over an $80 bill. That'll go over well with the American people.

Christine said...

Super kewl story..HEY, where's my wedding invitation and how is the broom coming?


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