Amy F. Quincy Author/Freelance Writer


June 2013

Press 1 for English

thAgent.” I said into the phone as clearly as possible. I was losing my cool.

The voice on the other end didn’t seem to care. She would never lose her cool. She wouldn’t get angry no matter how much I berated her. Knowing this just made me madder. “I’m sorry I seem to be having so much trouble understanding you. Please say the —”

“AGENT!” I hollered, cutting her off. This only made it worse.

“I’m sorry,” she said, her voice full of regret. “I still didn’t get that. Please say the —”

I hung up.

Hanging up on someone, even a computer, used to be so much more satisfying back in the day. Back when you could slam the earpiece into its cradle. And if you were really mad, the number tones sounded a reverberating jangle. There was an echo, an exclamation point to your anger. Now we’re stuck with clicking closed a cell phone – if you have a flip top. Otherwise, you can mash your thumb on the ‘end’ key. How satisfying is that? It doesn’t allow for much self-expression.

The call I had disconnected was my fifth attempt to try to talk to an actual human at the cable company. It’s very hard to get through to an actual human. Apparently, there’s only a few of them sitting around like royalty, waiting to talk to those of us patient or tricky enough to make it past their automated lackeys.

I thought I knew the secret. A rep sympathetic to the problem of my voice and a voice response system once told me to always respond “Agent” no matter the question. The reason for my call? Agent. My telephone number, beginning with the area code first? Agent. The extension number of the party I wish to speak to? The answer is always “Agent.” Don’t even start playing their game. Don’t press 1 for English. Don’t enter your account number or zip code. Give them nothing.Turns out, I could repeat “Agent” till my blood boiled over — it didn’t work. I’ve also tried playing deaf, dumb and mute. I just hang on the line in silence, hoping my inability to communicate at all will get me through to a live person. That usually doesn’t work either.

Lately, my favorite television ad is for Discover Card. In various versions, people call Discover Card reps very similar to themselves. “We treat you like you’d treat you,” they promise. Now I don’t have a Discover card, but they say you’ll get right to a live person when you call. Smart advertising. Even if it is a lie.

So next time you’re losing your cool with an automated voice or you’ve been the next caller for twenty minutes — think of me and try to laugh. I guarantee I’m having a harder time than you. If all else fails, just keep hitting 0. Or click your phone closed.

Happy Summer

I have a serious case of the lazies. If I could wish myself into this picture, I would. 1Seriously though, the view’s not bad from the pool in the backyard. And there’s something about an afternoon thunderstorm that’s perfect for napping. So, in honor of Friday’s official start to summer, I hope you’ll enjoy these summertime quotes. I couldn’t decide on just one — it’s like a whole field of sunflowers.

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.

~F. Scott Fitzgerald

 Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.
  ~Sam Keen
A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken. 

~James Dent3

 In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.

~Albert Camus

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.

~John Steinbeck

There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.

  ~Celia Thaxter2

 It’s a cruel season that makes you get ready for bed while it’s light out.
~Bill Watterson

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.

~John Lubbock 4


Mirror, Mirror

dreamstimecomp_13039193My magnifying mirror taught me an important lesson last week. Well, it’s already a belief of mine. Let’s just say, I was reminded that there’s wisdom in the saying: Ignorance is bliss.

My old mirror was loose at its base, so I figured I’d just pick up a new one during the move. Trouble being, Bed Bath and Beyond only had mirrors with a measley five-times magnification instead of the high-powered eight I was used to. No big deal, right? I mean, it’s only three times less. That’s what I thought — until I got it home. Less magnification together with poor lighting and the fact that the mirror hangs a bit too high meant I was missing all kinds of supposedly important details.

I’ve revised my opinion about what’s important.

“Do you really want all that information?” a friend asked me, when I picked out the mirror.

I thought I did, but I can say now that I definitely do not.

My self esteem is much better with the new mirror that tells lies. Well, not outright lies. Just lies by omission. Don’t ask, don’t tell. That’s our policy. I was wondering why I looked better in my new place. It seemed like a miracle. Dark circles faded and blemishes disappeared. Was there something in the water here? Was I getting better sleep? Had I suddenly stopped sprouting rogue chin hairs? Then I remembered the new mirror. Three times less. I still had chin hairs. Heck, I was a billy goat. I just didn’t know I was a billy goat.  Ignorance is bliss.

One of my favorite characters is Scarlett O’Hara who can look tragedy in the face and declare, “I can’t think about that today. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Tomorrow is, after all, another day. And one of my favorite ending lines to a book is in The Sun Also Rises when Brett says, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

Yes, it is. It is pretty to think my brows are perfectly tweezed and I’m not sporting spinach between my teeth when I leave the house. (Just kidding. My new mirror isn’t that bad.)

But really, why is it important to know these things? Other humans aren’t running around looking through bionic eyes with eight times magnification capability. Why should I have to give myself the once over with anything more than the naked eye?

I will say that sometimes you walk into a place with super-duper florescents, like an office building or a drugstore. Or the sun will back-light you in a way that exposes every hair that God and age have bestowed on you. The only advice I have in these situations is — move. Get the hell out. Of the drugstore or the office. And avoid the sun. It’s bad for you anyway. Besides, everyone knows candlelight and dusk are more flattering.

But if you happen to catch me in bad lighting that shows all my flaws – don’t say anything. I don’t want to know. I’m feeling pretty good about myself these days. But do feel free to tell me if I have spinach in my teeth.

Lighten Up

130601_0020 I like people who don’t take themselves too seriously. Who can laugh at themselves or make me laugh. People who turn lemons into Long Island Ice Teas. With lemon.

Last Saturday was another Life Rolls On event in Jacksonville Beach — They Will Surf Again. (For more info – please see my past posts or the Life Rolls On website.) I went, not because I love body surfing, but because I wanted to feel the sand in between my toes and the salt water on my skin. I went because I missed the ocean. Sure, I see it often (even since the move), but this was my chance to get in it.

My enthusiasm was shared by another adaptive surfer named Dani. I spent some time with Dani (who has spini-bifida and who I know from the Brooks program), when we both decided we wanted to sit in the water. Make no mistake — this simple pleasure becomes a huge production when you’re in a wheelchair. Particularly because I was in my power chair, having left my beach wheelchair at a friend’s house during the move. First, we had to notify someone who could track down an empty beach wheelchair. 130601_0009Then, I’d be ferried down, while Dani manuevered her manual chair through the sand. As we waited awhile to be able to carry out this smallest of desires, Dani said to me, “We could’ve crawled into the ocean by now.”

I pictured us scuttling across the sand like crabs, though surely not as smoothly. I laughed.

“Want to? Let’s go for it,” she said, serious.

I did want to go for it, but envisioned the hoardes of helpful volunteers who would descend on us as soon as we left our wheelchairs.

“Just yell, left, right or straight,” she instructed.

Did I mention that Dani is also blind? As if one disability wasn’t enough, she got hit with a double whammy.

130601_0023I was ready to make a scene, for the sake of a good story, but just then my beach chariot arrived. Once down by the water, we had a friend snap a picture. Looking at it later, I took in my long, Kermit the Frog legs jutting out next to her little ones. I’m not sure we should hang out together — our height difference is exaggerated, making me look like an amazon woman and her like Tiny Tim.

But, it’s fun to hang out with someone fun. I’ve met disabled people who tend to play the victim. Who are defined by what happened to them or the body they were born into. The kind of people who, ten years later, still tell anyone who’ll listen exactly how many weeks/months they were in a coma. Our loved ones often talk about the time we were in the hospital. We don’t. At least not the “we” I want to be around.

We all have our sad stories. Able-bodied and disabled alike. Some are just sadder than others. So lighten up! Don’t let tragedy or circumstance define you. If Dani and I can do it, so can you.

In the Flow

DSCF1432My writing group had our end of the year celebration this past Friday. We read our stories aloud to friends and family. My aunt and 94 year-old grandma were there. And my mother, of course.

I am a big fan of the writers group, but particularly this group. Not only is there real talent, but support, encouragement and friendship. So much of what writers do is in solitude, it’s great to come together — to celebrate our achievements and share our stories with a room full of loved ones. Writers need an audience. For what’s the value in a story not shared?

DSCF1435There is only one real deprivation. I decided this morning, and that is not to be able to give one’s gift to those one loves most. The gift turned inward, unable to be given, becomes a heavy burden, even sometimes a kind of poison. It is as though the flow of life were backed up.  

~May Sarton (from For Writers Only by Sophy Burnham)

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