Saturday, September 24, 2011

Where Is Tim When I Need Him?

I don’t know if you were lucky enough to catch any of Tim Hallinan’s non-Murder is Everywhere posts around the Internet on his 2011 Bouchercon experiences, but one tale in particular stands out in my mind.  It has to do with Tim, as knight errant, off in search of a missing chicken.  Yes, in the face of maitre d indifference and paltry (neé poultry) odds of success, Tim the Lionhearted abruptly left our MIE dinner table on a solitary quest to wrest a roast chicken from the clutches of Chef the Barbequian.  And as my missing-in-action chicken dinner was the object of his gallantry, I had more than a rooting interest in the outcome.

And, no, his courage was in no way influenced by the lubricating qualities of the terrific South African wines contributed to the occasion by Michael and Stanley.  Nor do I believe it was prompted by my (largely) surreptitious pecking at his pomme frites while I endured my Rodney Dangerfield moment waiting for my meal to arrive—and making a mental note to never again order anything on a menu described as prepared “ala Godot.”

Thankfully, memories of Yrsa’s (and husband Olaf’s) scourged sheep’s head from the night before allowed my appetite to endure the slight, helped along by the wine.  But Tim was watching, and just as Cara and Leighton were finishing their meals, up like a shot he rose from the table and headed off into the valley of breasts and thighs to see what was the matter.  

Leaving me alone with his French fries I might add. 

A moment later he appeared with a manager bearing apologies … and my chicken.   Some might say it was a vintage Poke Rafferty moment coming to life.  Between you and me, I’d say it was more likely Miaou.  She’s far more accomplished at getting her way in that sort of situation.

But that was last week and now I’m back in New York City wondering if I ever left Greece.  I keep telling people that if you want to know what’s going on in Greece just follow the US news.  The similarities, however, do not end at government paralysis and fiscal ruin brought on by self-interest over the common good.   Have you ever tried to get a cable/Internet repair done in NYC?  Greeks historically complain about how long it takes their government-owned telecommunications industry to respond.

We don’t have that problem. We have Time Warner Cable or TWC.  No, I’m not talking about the anti-Christ (TWC does not stand for The Witch Company), though some might equate its presence on earth with the proliferation of automated telephone responses to human problems. 

I lost my Internet connection a week before Bouchercon, and was told by TWC that it would be ten days before any repairman was available.  I figured I could tough it out because that would be two days after my return to NYC “on Tuesday between 9AM and 7PM.”  As the fated day of renewed connectivity approached I carefully answered each automated call from TWC asking me to confirm that I still wanted the appointment.  On that Tuesday I sat in my apartment waiting for my personal Jim Carrey character to materialize. 

By mid-afternoon, with no one having arrived, I called to check that all was okay and was assured by automated voice “our technician will be there by seven.”  At eight I called and held out for a human voice (pounding on # seems to work), who promptly told me that the cable guy had called me at 10:23AM, but there was no answer so he cancelled the appointment. 

TIM WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I NEEDED YOU!  Okay, so I did my best Hallinan on the warpath impersonation, but all it yielded was, “We’ll have to reschedule you for a new appointment, the earliest being Saturday.”  Nothing I said to human voice or human voice’s supervisor changed the result.  At least in Greece they make you think they care. 

So, for those of you who’ve been wondering why I have not been corresponding with my normal alacrity over the past week, that’s why.  And for those of you expecting more photographs, what with cribbing Internet access on a catch as catch can basis it’s difficult dealing with photographs for this post.  The only hope I have for getting more than one photo up is an outside chance that a last minute Friday appointment will open up—which will make it only a two week wait to get my Internet service repaired in New York City!

Perhaps I should call and say I want to order new service?  Care to bet how many hours until someone’s here knocking on my door for a new installation?   Hmm, that’s what some would say is thinking like a Greek, or others like Tim’s literary child, Miaou. 

Bottom line: thanks for saving my chicken, mate, but where are you now?



  1. Please blame all spacing problems on the photographic additions preceding my prose. Then, again, perhaps more blank space is a good thing:)


  2. What spacing problems?

    Maybe the waiters drew up a graph, added seat numbers, then put the numbers in a hat. Your number was pulled and you had to wait. Why are the waiters in a punishing mode? The group is drinking wine which will not appear on the bill and, therefore, could reduce the amount of tip left on the table.

    I am sure that everyone who follows the blog is eager to hear all about Bouchercon which some of us aren't ever likely to attend.

  3. Thanks, Beth, but the spacing must be a Mac thing. Make that a Big Mac thing. Which gets me to thinking that had I opted for one of those I'd no doubt have eaten sooner. But then I'd have lost a story for the blog. By the way, we were charged a corkage fee for the wine so the waiters were not stiffed--but it was waived because of the tardy chicken, thereby returning order to the universe.

    As for what happened at Bouchercon, I understand that something is in the works. If not, there are those detailed posts by Tim.

    Personally, I had a terrific time meeting my blogmates and indulging my scourged sheep head fantasies. And the attending spouses weren't bad either:). The panels were interesting for the most part, and I came away with reaffirmed of my long held belief that mystery novelists are without question the most supportive writers of each other.

    Oh, yes, and one other thing. Our Murder is Everywhere tee shirt was a big hit. So much so that one fan (who shall remain unnamed) so loved it that at the auction she kept bidding up the price for the Murder is Everywhere goodie basket until a rival bidder promised to give her the tee shirt if she'd just stop bidding!

    What fun it is to be part of all this. Next time we want you there.

  4. Jeff, thanks for the praise, but really all I was thinking about was eating those damn potatoes. It was like watching a blast-mining operation take chunks out of a mountain. I'd glance at my watch and there'd be another bit missing.

    But we have to pick our battles. No one who's not willing to say, "Well, then come unplug the damn thing" ever wins with a cable company.

    But it's a pleasure to bask in your praise. And also to have a good laugh, because that's a very funny post.

  5. My cable is now working. What I want to know, Tim, is how you knew about my experience as a kid working in what we called the "potato mines" of Pittsburgh. Honest, that's the truth! And it wasn't a blast...continually lifting and dumping 100 pound sacks of potatoes in a repack operation.