Iris the Cable-Guy: An everyday hero

You might not spot Iris as a hero. From her curly-headed top to her rumpled khaki uniform to her worn size 10 work boots you can see the competence right away, but a hero? After a three-week internet drought that involved dozens of fruitless phone calls and empty promises, we saw Iris climb out of the cable company truck, and sensed the possibility of greatness.

The drought involved a this-must-be-satire string of missteps – promising that the service would come on between 7:35 and 11pm without anyone coming out, no, make that a tech will be out tomorrow morning before 9, whoops, now it will be tomorrow night  between 5 and 8, in endless rotation. We began looking for the Candid Camera truck. One agent finally leveled with us: “Look, I don’t know what to tell you. I get calls like this all the time. I don’t have any way to get through to the service people, so what can I do?” She, our sixth Customer Service rep, finally outsmarted the system and switched us from an install to a repair and late the next afternoon, out stepped Iris, like Clarence the angel in It’s a Wonderful Life, come to save the day.

“Boy, are we glad to see you!” we said.

“Well, let’s see,” she said.

Inside, jolly, unruffled, unhurried, good-natured, she began by crawling under the desk to plug and unplug while humming a tune, tsking cheerfully about our condo building’s vintage system. Then she traveled downstairs, then to the pole three blocks away, then back up and under the desk, then on hold with her own customer service line so she could back-channel with Joyce at the office when she finally answered. During the last bit, Iris seemed to enjoy the chance to sit in a chair and wait. We offered her water, a snack.

We chatted and learned that they all work 10 hour days, six days a week, ever since the company began to advertise that if new customers signed up, their cable bill would never go up. We also learned that this was hour 10 of the 6th day this week.

Iris’s phone rang, the next customer inquiring about her whereabouts. She explained and apologized in her low-key way. Her customer was so nice about it that we are sure she wasn’t coming off a three-week nightmare. And then, only three hours after her arrival, we had internet. Iris said goodbye and stepped into her brief weekend. I imagine her now, going home to walk the dog, popping some popcorn, and kicking back with an old movie, untroubled, satisfied that she’d saved the day again.

I think I”ll stick with Iris, an everyday hero. In fact, the next time trouble comes knocking, I’m going to try to channel her and mumble that line from the Diserata: “No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should,” whether or not you have your every desire.


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