The Verizon guy stayed last night until 8:30 p.m., because the house painters cut three wires last week. It took three fucking days to get the service appointment.

A little ladder work and the Verizon guy is flushed and gasping. He isn’t young, isn’t fit, isn’t happy.

The Verizon guy has to borrow my fucking flashlight before heading down to the basement.

The Verizon guy is down in the basement, muttering oaths; I’m on the first floor, watching basketball & making notes on the Whore of Akron; I hear him snarl, “I’m gonna fucking kill somebody.”

“Not me, pal,” I say, loud. If I can hear him through the floor, he can fucking hear me, too.

My 12-gauge Mossberg is upstairs, on the 3rd floor. Do I really want to climb two flights of stairs on the off-chance that the Verizon guy is a psycopath? I do not. Truly, I do not. This isn’t Carver Country. This is leafy suburban North Jersey.

Turns out the Verizon guy just needs a smoke. I hear him lumber up the basement stairs and go out the side door. I don’t smoke anymore, but I join him by the window above the kitchen sink.

“You okay?”

“Yeah,” he says. “Tell me something — how long you lived here?”

“Twelve years. Why?”

“The wiring’s all fucked up.”

I tell him the previous owner was a handyman, so maybe he jury-rigged the lines upstairs, the lines the painters cut.

The Verizon guy sighs. A weary, beefy fucking sigh he sighs.


I sigh that same sigh every month when the Verizon bill comes. We have two landlines, full-service, unlimited long-distance. And three cell phone lines. Plus a fourth cell phone line with AT&T.

The ADT system is pegged to one of the landlines.

Why would a guy living in leafy suburban North Jersey with a shotgun and a dog need ADT?

Peace of mind is why. Peace of fucking mind.

When the Verizon guy goes back down to the basement, I phone ADT and find out how to maintain service without a landline. Then I go online to the Consumer Reports website to see how my cable and high-speed internet provider, Comcast, does with phone service.

Comcast, it turns out, sucks at phone service. What a fucking shock.

Then I see that CR is as high as CR ever gets on something called Ooma.


When I was young, old people read Reader’s Digest. Now they go online and read Consumer Reports. They go online, read CR, and fret about whether they’ll be able to cope with something like Ooma. Then they write a blog post about it, link to it on the twitter, and ask if anyone out there knows of any reason not to enter into telephonic matrimony with Ooma.

I hope not. This isn’t Chekhov Country either, but next time I see the Verizon guy in my house, that Mossberg might go off.