Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Alicia, Who Works For AT&T
You knew that I had nothing to give even when AT&T was asking for so little.
Alicia. . .who works for AT&T,
I only wanted to see if I could reduce my outstanding balance by a hundred dollars and pay the remainder next Thursday, thereby reactivating my phone at that time. That is all I wanted, Alicia; nothing more and nothing less; only two requests: a reduction of a hundred dollars and a belief in my promise that, in one week's time, all would finally be paid.
I came to you, Alicia. . .
Hat in my hand, heart on my sleeve. . .
to ask for only these two things. . .
And yet your love did so much more for me. . .
Alicia, Alicia, who works for AT&T.
I told you I had lately been going through a "rough patch". You did not ask me to define "rough patch". For you are familiar with my lexicon, Alicia. You have been through rough patches of your own in this life. And so it was that you and I shared an all-too-brief spiritual identification this afternoon over the phone
(that I had to borrow from a friend). . .
Yes, you have struggled too, Alicia. . .
Alicia, who works for AT&T.
How kindly and how effortlessly you opened your ears and your heart to my piteous tale of financial hardship, so familiar to me and yet unknown to you until this day--today!--when first we did meet!
Alicia! Alicia, Who Works For AT&T!
No, I did not mind when you placed me on hold.
For that is all I have at the moment, Alicia: Time. . .
Time to be “on hold” or “off hold”
it makes no difference to me
who madness infects
who dark voices scold
who visions dissect--
"on hold" or "off hold"
One is the other to me,
Alicia. . .Alicia, who works for AT&T
I laugh! I laugh! Can you not see?
Alicia. . .Alicia Who Works For AT&T?
How easier ‘tis to “on hold” be
when promises sweetly sound
and unexpected seem!
You would actually see about reactivating the phone service today? Without having to pay anything until June the 10th?
O! Alicia! Alicia, who works for AT&T!
How could such joy I have foreseen?
Believe me, Alicia, Who Works For AT&T, I really only wanted to see if I could reduce my outstanding balance by a hundred dollars and pay the remainder next Thursday, thereby reactivating my phone at that time.
To a life of phonelessness, for the week to come, I had myself resigned.
''Twas uttered by the witches three:
“When Thursday this is Thursday next. . .
In the mail, appears a check. . .
In the bank, his eyes to see. . .
Funds to pay AT&T!”
But now? Today?
This was not prophesied.
Could it be that I have died,
my ears now filled with Heaven’s dust?
Reactivation? Not just. . .
With familiar and friendly voices by then long silenced.
O! to have been alone. . .without a phone. . .
How unbearable at first that silence did seem.
And now ‘tis broken, was all but a dream?
Alicia. . .Alicia, who works for AT&T?
I merely told you I had fallen on hard times, Alicia. And you, my angel, who fate or chance, I know not which, conspired I should be transferred to in order to discuss this matter, lifted me and gave me nourishment and strength and said unto me: “Rise! Rise up, O wretched one and greet the coming dawn! For I too have fallen on hard times and that is why I went ahead and reduced your outstanding balance by 75 percent!
ALICIA, WHO WORKS FOR AT&T!
THIS I HAD NOT ASKED OF THEE!
SUCH A GIFT--WHOLLY FREE!
OF 4 LATE BILLS--GONE ARE 3?
Alicia, who works for AT&T. . .
I hope you do not think I’m lying when I say once again that I really did just want to see if I could reduce my outstanding balance by a hundred dollars and pay the remainder next Thursday, thereby reactivating my phone at that time.
I was only planning ahead, Alicia, for that brighter summer day--not but one week away--when once more I would have a phone of my own to say: “Let us leave such talk behind of ‘past-due amounts’ and ‘service interruptions’ and speak instead of the sunlit uplands and grassy meadows of our youth, when things between us were paid-in-full and balances up-to-date!” How could it be but mere fantasy this joyous moment would come not late--but early? Right now?
Right now. . .
. . .right now. . .
I want to treat you like a woman right now, Alicia. Cause I know that’s what you are, honey. I know a woman’s voice when I hear one. You ain’t no icy, antiseptic corporate bitch. You’re a 100 percent real woman, Alicia. Cause a good woman’s got a good heart.
And a man--why he gits scared sometimes, Alicia. And when a man gits to having them bad feelings about money, he don’t want to be talkin’ to no hairy-legged yes-dyke. He needs hisself a real woman; a woman who ain’t a-feared to show her beauty through little acts of kindness and understandin’.
Hell, Alicia, you know this ain’t the first time I’d done AT&T wrong. I told you how back in February they shut me down even then--in the prime of my service.
But that low-down snake that was slitherin' where you’re now sittin', back in that wint’ry month when the prospectin’ in the city weren’t looking none too good--why, he didn’t want to hear of no “hard times” or “rough patches”!
It was gold he was a-wanting! Right then and right there!
Of my sad situation, he had not a care.
But Alicia. . .Alicia, who works for AT&T,
This afternoon, you asked nothing of me.
Nothing, that is, of tangibility.
Only a promise. . .a covenant with thee. . .
. . .to pay the significantly reduced outstanding balance no later than June the 10th.
Alicia, I will do everything in my power to see to it that no outside force may sway me from my holy purpose. As God (whom I choose to call the “Human Form Divine”) is my witness, I will indeed pay that significantly reduced outstanding balance no later than June the 10th.
If for no other reason than this is what you desire of me, Alicia. . .Alicia, who works for AT&T. . .
Alicia, you took me at my word at a time when my word is all I have.
That, and also Time.
Time and Words.
These my only possessions be.
‘Tis why I write so much, you see. . .
O, Alicia, Who Works For AT&T,
was my enthusiasm not believed
when sayeth I with chivalry
a Knightly Ode I’d pen for thee?
Alicia. . .Alicia, Who Works For AT&T. . .
Dids’t thou click the link I gave
to find thy name upon this page?
“Sweet Alicia!”--let these words ne’er age
or into corporate obscurity fade. . .
‘Twas no mere jest, you'll now agree--
Alicia. . .Alicia, Who Works For AT&T!
Compell’d by thanks, I write of thee. . .
I sing of thee. . .
I think of thee. . .
I hope you do not get into trouble for having me in your internet history. But why should I not be? I ask thee, whose history now with MY history interweaves. . .
O! Your satisfaction survey! How unsatisfactory!
How could I answer with utmost accuracy?
“Did I resolve your issue efficiently?”
Yes, yes and yes.
And though I waited with baited breath, no question followed asking for the number of exclamation points which I would lovingly place at the end of that affirmation. . .
17, Alicia. 17 points of exclamation. . .
A mighty number indeed, but one not arbitrarily chosen.
17 is the spring of our youth; dogwoods in bloom, bobwhites in June, their chirping chorus not to be muffled any time soon by the hypocritically-clean Global Machine; O! What little we knew when still in our teens. . .
17. . .
But to add one more would lessen your score
And place you among the industry whores.
For 18 is adulthood.
Burn childish dreams! Your heroes in smoke!
Come, credit! Come, debit! No rocking the boat!
No, no. Not that. Too much.
This, for now:
At 17, young love still believes that somewhere deep inside the belly of the corporate beast, there are undigested bits of goodness that refuse to pass through the system with ease.
Such a bit are thee. .
Alicia. . .
Alicia, who works for AT&T. . .
By the words from your tongue and the good you have done, you make me feel young, in the light of the Son. . .
Alicia, I do not know if you are white or black. . .
It makes no difference to me.
who color distracts
who grievance incites
“Is she white?”, “Is she black?”
“Is she black?”, “Is she white?”
One is the other to me.
Alicia. . .Alicia, Who Works For AT&T
I am not concerned by the tint of a face,
the issue is Class and no longer Race.
However, Alicia, Who Works For AT&T, you did SOUND white over the phone. That is why I have been spelling your name like Alicia Silverstone's. (I used to have a crush on her before she got fat!)
But Alicia, who works for AT&T,
if you spelled your name “Aleesha, Who Works For AT&T”
How could this I really mind
with your good deeds so color-blind?*
*and not indicative of the actions of any particular race, gender, sexual orientation, or any of the other manifold and meaningless subdivisions of humanity that the leaders of the corporate seminars on “diversity” you’ve had to endure all these years in exchange for a paycheck are forcing you to compartmentalize everyday in hermetically-sealed spiritual death chambers of Identity Politics!
“THE MIND-FORG’D MANACLES I HEAR!” says Pastor Blake.
AND UP! UP! UP!
Rises the Congregation of Humanity--
to sing a hymn unto Itself.
To err is Human
to forgive is Divine
What? Some, not all?
To err, too--Divine!
Alicia, I hope you will read that William Blake poem I mentioned.
I think you will like his poetry and the mystical spin he puts on Christianity.
For you and Blake are simpatico in many ways, Alicia.
You both know that the only possibility for unity is to recognize, from time to time, that all of us are indeed Divine.
or to forgive
One is the other to me,
Alicia. . .Alicia, who works for AT&T
To err is Divine, to forgive is Divine, to be Human is Divine.
Not imperfect, as those comfortable and complacent in kimonos made from maggot skin would inject into our brains. . .
For even in our frailties, Perfection still remains. . .
O! Alicia! If we cannot see this evident fact, what point living?
And if suicide can nothing better bring, what point dying?
on-hold, off-hold. . .
All are the other to me,
Alicia. . .Alicia, who works for AT&T. . .
. . .and significantly reduced my balance
and gave the gift of my phone back to me.
With good news and his phone, to my friend I return
“Please teach me to sweet-talk!” he begs, “I want to learn”
“Sweet-talk?” I grin, incredulously
“Why treat my success so cynically?
“Nothing to hide, no great mystery
“I spoke to a woman,
“and the sweet one was she,
“Alicia. . .Alicia, Who Works For AT&T”
Posted by Will Franken at 9:02 PM