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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lesson 1: Never Trust a Customer Who Owns More Dogs than Teeth in their Mouth

Within a few weeks of starting my job, I was sent out into the field to experience a real life customer home visit. I was lucky enough to be teamed up with my big brother, Dan, who is an outside technician.

We drove around most of the morning. He showed me how the phone lines were run underground, where they hook up to, the safety protocol, I got to climb into a couple of pretty sweet underground vaults. I was pretty intrigued and found myself thinking "Hmph, this isn't so hard". I. ATE. MY. WORDS about an hour after that little thought bubble ran through my mind.

   My brother took a job that ended up being a disconnect of telephone service in a fairly run down trailer park. We pulled up to the property to see a man smoking a cigarette on his porch, dressed in a pair of shredded jeans and dirty wife beater with a beard that resembled a rats nest glaring at us. I should have known this wasn't going to go well when Dan handed me a bottle of pepper spray and said "Hide it in your sleeve. Don't be afraid to use it." *GULP* um, ok....

   When we get out of the van I see 3 hyper rottweilers jumping up and down on the other side of this guys gate.... Did I ever tell ya'll I'm scared of dogs? Well I AM! We are greeted by the dude with a "What in hell are you doing here?" another big *GULP* for me.  I look to Dan, waiting for him to answer.  He informs the customer that due to non-payment on his account, we have to disconnect his service.... which is promptly answered with a "What in the hell?! You ain't disconnecting me! I have 5 kids and ill mother that lives with me! You ain't coming in my house!!"   ME? I was ready to say "Okay Dan, you heard the guy..." But being as though Dan's job depends on this type of stuff, we were forced to press on.  Again, with a little more sternness in his voice, Dan says "Sir, put your dogs away, we are stepping onto your property."  The hick chuckles to himself and says "Oh yeah? MAKE ME!"  At this point, I'm on the red neck's side.  I'm thinking to myself  'Yeah Dan, MAKE HIM! This is stupid!! Let's not disconnect him and say we did. Who will really ever find out?  Let's just leave and not get eaten alive by dogs today!!" 

After going back and forth with the 'Deliverence' extra for a few minutes, He actually decided he wanted to coroperate with us.  He chained his dogs up in the yard and opened his gate for us.  I think there was even a mumbled 'I'm sorry'.  I was surprised by the turn of events, but I didn't dwell on it.  I just wanted to get  this over with as quickly as possible.  We walked across the property that was roughly the size of a postage stamp, with the dogs nipping at our heels but being yanked back by the chains on their neck every time they jumped up at us.  Even on the chains though, we were maybe about 5 yards out of devil dog's reach.  Dan then decides this is a more than opportune time to teach me about a disconnect, in which I interrupted with something like 'Shut the eff up, Cujo is on my heels and you want to play teacher? Just cut the service off and let's go!!!"  I felt like we stood there for about 3 hours, which I'm sure it was more like 3 minutes,  But I watched the dogs and their owner the whole time.

To this day I still can't recall the exact chain of events, but it went a little something like this.  The biggest Rottweiler of all just looked vicious, and stared at me as I was Mike Vick holding a case of Omaha Steaks....drool was dripping off his mouth, and he just had that constant loud bark that rattles your brain.  I remember glancing up and seeing this dog get a running head start, leaping in the air and suddenly realizing that he's not stopping.  In the blink of an eye, I turned into Carl Lewis and hauled ass back across the yard to the gate.  As I am approaching the gate, I quick leap up into the air only to fall short of clearing the fence (let's be real, there was NO WAY I was ever going to clear the fence, just wishful thinking on my behalf). I quick glanced around for Dan, realize I don't see him and in the same thought I remember the pepper spray conversation.  GENIUS!! I pull my arm down out of my sleeve and start spraying when suddenly I feel burning, I feel blinded, I.... AHHHH!!!!!!  I feel the weight of 150 lb Rottweiler crashing into me.  I. JUST. PEPPER SPRAYED. MYSELF!  GAAAAHHH!  How stupid could I be?!...better yet... How stupid could Dan be for trusting me with PEPPER SPRAY?!  -I will say I did have some stroke of luck that day when the dog decided not to eat my face and instead just clumsily kept nudging and sniffing me while I sit on my knees screaming my head off from the pain.  I guess Dan saw the whole thing happen, because I can hear him saying "Kell, just calm down"  with laughs mixed in.  He helped me up, guided me back to the van like a good brother should and helped me pour water into my eyes, which offered no relief.  I mean I think the only thing that would have made me feel better would have been just ripping my eyes out of their sockets. I could hear the customer on his porch laughing his head off saying "I ain't never seen something like that!! I can't wait to call my wife and tell her that happened...."  which I promptly answered "Yeah!! Good luck doing so with your DISCONNECTED PHONE SERVICE!!!"  yeah, that'll teach him to laugh at ME!

Moral of the story kids, When someone challenges you (especially when that someone has more dogs than teeth), it's wiser to just walk away.  I have paid my dues in being laughed at, and luckily I'm able to look back on it now and laugh at myself.  I still hate dogs.  I still hate red neck's.  and I haven't been back out in the field with anyone since.

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