So, growing up in a country where the period between applying for a phone to actually getting a phone used to be measured not in days or weeks, or even months but years, I was certain that nothing can surprise me when it comes to ordering a phone service.
Oh boy was I in for a surprise. So, I want to get a phone service, right? I actually asked someone from here to set this up, since I did not want to screw anything up. The lady called, gave them my data, and said that sometime next week they will come and install the phone and the internet. Cool.
A few days later, my other half starts asking about the phone. So, at a whim of the moment, I put in the phone in the wall, and to my surprise I find out that that I have the phone service already. I guessed that they would at least tell me that they set me up with a new phone, and not just connected it and let me figure it out on my own that I have it, but I guess as the old saying goes: “When in Madrid, do as the Spaniards do”. So I just assumed that this was the custom here, so I just accepted it at a face value, and gave everyone my new home phone number.
A few days later, my other half starts asking about the internet. I began to wonder if maybe they just connected the internet service and did not tell me about, so I went to work with a plan to ask someone for their modem, so I can verify if I have the internet already. Coincidentally the Telefonica finally called that day and said that the installer will come the next day at 9am. Cool, I think. The installers did finally show up around noon, checked the place out, and explained to me that I have to go to an electric store and buy a conduit. Then the guy proceeded to brief me about the dimensions of the conduit I was supposed to buy so he can install the internet for me. “Hold on”, I said, not only I don’t speak the technical Spanish, but I also don’t have a car, and have no clue where I can find an electric store. The guy pondered on my words for a while, then agreed to make a personal sacrifice and actually buy the conduit himself, if I reimburse him for that later.
Cool. So the day comes when the internet is finally hooked up. Then the guy asks my wife if she wants a phone too. “What for?” was my wife’s natural response, since we already had a phone. The guy was puzzled with the question, so he proceeded to explain the best he could: “So you can call your girlfriends if you want to”. My wife was so shocked at his down to earth logic that she just agreed. The guy installed the phone and wanted to leave, but she stopped him by the door and asked what our new phone number is. So he wrote it on a scrap paper, and left.
Something was not right about this whole situation, so when I got back from work I started digging deeper in our mailbox. And there it was, underneath old leaves, half eaten by the snails, I found an old telephone bill. It was in the name of some guy Jose, and yup, it was the number that I thought it was mine. The bill was past due by a few months. I called the landlord, and a couple days later that phone was disconnected. That is cool and dandy, but the new phone did not work, and I had no idea what the number even was (yeah, the scrap paper with my new phone number just magically disappeared), and how to get it to work. I called the Telefonica customer service, and when I finally got through, they told me I need hang up and dial again in order to talk to their tech support. But in order to get anyone in tech support you need to call either from your phone (and mine did not work) or know your phone number (which I did not). Here I am, catch 22.
A few days pass by. Then I get a brilliant idea, that even though my phone does not work, maybe it will work to call the tech support. It worked! I got a live person on line by a pure miracle. I asked them why my phone does not work, and they tell me that I am two months overdue on my bill. “Holly Crap”, I say, I only had that phone for a week. Then they say that they need to talk to Maria de la Vega, because the phone is in her name. I say, “Holly Crap”, I don’t know who Maria de la Vega is. Then they asked me what is my phone number, and just as I was telling them that I don’t know it, the scrap paper with the phone number just magically materializes on my desk, so I am able to tell them the phone number after all. They say, nope, this phone number does not exist, so I reply “why don’t you look me up by either my name or my address?” So it turns out that no one with my name does even exist in their database, and neither does anyone with my address. The lady on the other side starts getting frustrated with me, and she informs me that I have neither internet nor phone with her company. At this point I wanted to scream, that If I have neither internet nor phone, then why in hell am I am talking to her from my phone that is hooked up to the cable modem that they installed for me the week prior??? Of course I am nice, so instead of screaming, I just tell her that in an aplomb voice.
I guess she realized that this was a good question, so she told me that she will transfer me to their fraud department immediately, and then she just hanged up on me.
So here I am, stuck with a phone that is disconnected because Maria de La Vega is late on her bills, and with the internet service that does not exist. Great!
aplomb \uh-PLOM\, noun:
Assurance of manner or of action; self-possession; confidence; coolness.
Then, unexpectedly, she picked up a microphone and began to sing. She sang several songs, handling herself with the aplomb of a professional entertainer.
– “Rediscovering Japanese Life at a Bike’s Pace”, New York Times, April 24, 1988
In the jostling hubbub of Tim Hammack’s kitchen at the Bay Area Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter in an eddy of urban need, it is about taking life as it comes. It means embracing the unexpected arrival of 200 flats of donated organic strawberries, say, or 600 pounds of bologna with equal culinary aplomb.
– Patricia Leigh Brown, “Finding Purpose in Serving the Needy, Not Just Haute Cuisine”, New York Times, June 13, 2009
His initial broadcasting success was due at least as much to his considerable professional aplomb as it was to his father’s broadcasting connections.
– John A. Jackson, American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Empire
Aplomb is from the French word meaning “perpendicularity, equilibrium, steadiness, assurance,” from the Old French phrase a plomb, from a, “according to” (from Latin ad) + plomb, “lead weight” (from Latin plumbum, “lead”).