The Mystery Of The Call To Customer Service

“You did just give us your account number. We ask again so people can’t cut in the phone queue. Just because something’s physically and logically impossible is no reason not to have a policy.”

“Put like that it almost makes sense. Can we say my number is ‘forty’?”

“It doesn’t look that old, but I’m game. For quality-control purposes this call may have been pre-recorded. What is a problem?”

“You know how there’s an Internet? Not for me.”

“The web site could be down.”

“I tried Google, YouTube,, The New York Times, and Comics Curmudgeon, and the browser kept pointing and laughing that I wasn’t on the Internet.”

“Someday all those sites will be down simultaneously and we’ll cackle smugly at everybody thinking we’re the problem.”

“You do need quality controlled. You wouldn’t want it running wild.”

“That didn’t sound submissive.”

“Thinking about quality control. Am I being pre-recorded?”

“We can’t tell. It’d ruin the control group’s self-esteem. If you’re in the control group it’d spoil a relationship starting so well.”

“That’s considerate, unless I’m in the other group.”

“We thought you’d agree. Could you give us your account number again?”

“This time I’ll say ninety-four.”

“Oh, you are a giddy prankster. What’s your cable modem model number?”

“Hold on, I have to get the cat off it … … hold on, I have to find bandages … … It’s a model 327W.”

“That’s not the model number.”

“It says that’s the model number on top.”

“Yes, and don’t think this hasn’t lead to fisticuffs. The model number is on the bottom where you can’t read it in your light.”

“Could I give my phone number again?”

“I was just fixing to ask. Would you like it to be ‘six’ now?”

“No, I feel like ‘four’. On the bottom the cable modem is a model 327-W.”

“That’s better. … I’ll have to transfer you to a guy named `Jeff’. He’s usually hanging around and probably works for us. We don’t get many fans, though if he is one that explains his applause.”

“I like chances to talk with people named `Jeff’.”

“For Jeff, you’ll have to describe the problem, and give your customer number, and your model number. You’ll still have the problem.”

“Does he give the numbers back after?”

“He should. It’s bad practice to hog numbers. We lost `fourteen’ for months to one sourpuss tired of having people to turn things off and on.”

“Does he control quality too? — Never mind, it’d hurt my feelings if one of us lied. Should we give him an encore?”

“Would you please re-say your account number?”

“It’s forty, in that case. How did he like it?”

“He says he’s `Paul’ and we have him confused for someone else. Security is escorting him out.”

“Are they confused?”

“They know the way. This is about the twelfth Paul this month.”

“Would it help mentioning my customer number is 101?”

“It makes me more secure after this shocking Paul incident. Have you got another computer we might try something on?”

“I don’t.”

“Then we’re can’t do anything without someone actually named ‘Jeff’.”

“In that case, I do. I just didn’t want to confuse this issue.”

“Could you plug it in to your cable modem?”

“Any particular connection?”

“Yes, one into the cable modem. And go to the site 192 dot 168 dot … ”

“Dot 1 dot 1?”

“You act suspiciously like someone named ‘Jeff’.”

“Should I mention my customer number is 327?”

“No, that’s your model number. Do you see under Network Settings anything for DCHP/IP?”


“Yeah, let’s act like that matters. Do you see any pull-down menus?”

“I do, but hoped to ignore them.”

“Have you rebooted things?”

“I considered rebooting the refrigerator, so I could eat the ice cream.”

“I recommend trying that and calling back. My customer number is twelve.”

“That’s my number too. I bet it’s why we get along so.”

“Your supposition satisfies me. Were there any other issues?”

“There, the Internet came back. Thank you. There’s nothing else, Jeff.”

“You’re welcome — wait, how did you know?”

What clue told the caller the operator was Jeff? Read tomorrow’s puzzle and check your solution!

Why This Has Been Such A Happy Day

I clarified to someone who wasn’t sure exactly what kind of early bicycle was under discussion by explaining that a velocipede was the one made with “one giant wheel and one attack dinosaur”. And people corrected me, rather than leave me unable to tell the penny-farthing bicycle apart from the one that’s got attack dinosaurs. I am so delighted.