far too much writing, far too many photos

My eyes opened at 3:58 a.m., saw the readout on the bedside clock, closed again. My little brain did not return to sleep, though. Too cranked up, apparently, occupied with things needing to be done. And there’s a pile of things needing to be done, a growing pile, some of it tasks or labor that would need to be performed/resolved anyway, some of it things to be taken care of before I hop a plane on Tuesday and head to the U.K. for a month (yee-ha!). And then there’s the need to speak with Telefónica, the Spanish phone company.

When I bolted the flat in Madrid in December, I suspended the phone service, a condition Telefónica told me they allow for three months max. Tomorrow makes three months. Instructing them to cut off the service should be simple, you’d think: call ‘em up, say cut it off (a phrase that should be used with caution outside of this particular context, though in Spanish it might not have quite the same genital-shrinking connotation). The problem: the phone numbers the company provides for information and customer service don’t function from outside the country. I’ve tried calling other Telefónica numbers and asking them to transfer me to an appropriate number — they refused, telling me I needed to call international information here in the States. Which would be fine except that I have so far had no luck with international info. here in the States, though I’ll keep trying in the hope that one of the helpful gnomes there will break down and put in the effort needed to track down a functioning number. Email seems to be out, as I’ve been unable to find any webpage anywhere where Telefónica provides one. I finally sent a note to the she of my sainted Madrid landlords (who notified me recently that the destruction rehab work continues in the building and in the flat there, with no end in sight). I’m hoping maybe she can get the phone folks to either terminate the service or else provide the details for a fax that might get the job done.

One way or another, the situation will be resolved. In the meantime, I get big fun and games.

Update, written later:

I continued trying to get that simple phone number. I begged, I pleaded, I groveled. And I experienced the most spectacular demonstration of buck-passing by a succession of American companies that I have ever had the misfortune to endure — a brain-busting cycle of telecommunications concerns refusing to help, virtually every individual I spoke with uninterested in extending themself to assist me in finding a place that might actually provide international directory assistance (with the exception of a woman named Tina at Quest — unfortunately, the two numbers Quest provided her to hand out resulted in more dead-end horseshit).

At some point, I came to my senses, got off the phone, pulled myself together. Went back online, began doing some very devious searches, one of which eventually led me to a number at Telefónica in Madrid that claimed to be connected somehow with customer service. I girded myself, called, and found myself talking to a guy in an office somewhere in the Spanish capital who listened sympathetically, dug around until he found a number I could use and gave it to me. A number that actually worked. And when I’d finished with that, I called the she of my sainted landlords — a genuine sweetheart — let her know I’d finally gotten through, told her to ignore my earlier email.

Pulled on a coat, fled the house, made the drive into Montpelier. The day: gray and cold, winter having reasserted itself a few days back, light snow coming down now and then. Kind of a shock after the week of above-freezing temperatures — nothing tropical, but enough to kick-start the year’s first mud season, turning a length of the road going down this hill here into a slippery, treacherous swamp. Winter’s return turned it back into a road, now decorated with lots of ruts and furrows it didn’t have before. Which is a good thing: it slows people down (me being one of those people).

On impulse, I picked up a hitchhiker in North Montpelier, a grizzled, limping 40ish guy in a leather motorcycle jacket, hair covered by a red kerchief. We got to talking about the conditions, he said a car of his had once gotten so deeply mired in a back road not far from here that he gave up on it. He and a friend got shovels and assisted it in sinking out of view.

True? Not true? No idea. He talked about it as if he’d lived it, that’s all I know.


Montpelier, Vermont, winter holding on:

España, te echo de menos.

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