Mudsock Heights

Mudsock Heights

The View from Mudsock Heights: Corporations are Insensitive to the Needs and Feelings of -- Me

By Dennis E. Powell | Posted at 9:25 PM

We live in a time in which the greatest offenses one can commit include hurting someone’s feelings. A day does not pass that we do not hear of the need for “sensitivity training” for the “unenlightened” transgressors among us.

On the other hand, we also hear from the outraged and offended. Apparently, if someone has hurt your feelings the gloves come off and you are free to say or do pretty much anything in response.

Okay, I’ll play.

I live out in the country. A friend jokes, often, that some particular view or action or practice of mine demonstrates “why you live out in the woods by yourself.” I should get hurt feelings and be enraged and demand that my friend undergo sensitivity training. But I don’t, because I don’t want to lose a friend. Also, the observation is frequently correct.

Still …

Out here in the woods, where I live by myself, there are certain inconveniences I’m forced to endure. Some of them are expensive. And there are persons and organizations who like to rub it in.

For instance, recently I’ve seen on television some advertisements that say that American Electric Power has paid a dividend to shareholders every quarter for something like 100 years. Okay, that’s nice for them — but they’re rubbing my nose in the fact that the electric service provided by AEP around here recently has been anything but reliable. Last week alone, the power went out more than 20 times. Most of the time it was for just a few seconds, but in this technological age a few seconds’ power failure can be disastrous. When the power goes out for five seconds every few minutes, things like refrigerators and computers become very unhappy. The satellite Internet service — about which more in a minute — goes down. On one memorable occasion on, I think, Tuesday, the power switched rapidly off and on dozens of times in the space of a few seconds before dying entirely. I expected my refrigerator to explode.

(I know why the power service has been so bad: it’s the time of year when AEP sends a helicopter around with a huge saw dangling from it, to cut down any power lines that might be interfering with trees.)

With the monthly phone bill usually comes an advertisement — and there are lots of similar ads on teevee — saying that I can get high-speed Internet, plus unlimited telephone usage, plus hundreds of cable channels, all for under $100. Sounds good. I’ve phoned several times in hope of getting this miraculous deal. And I’ve been told sorry, that’s not available in your area. Why does the phone company taunt me so? Do they like to hurt my feelings?

Cellular service is often folded into the package — for thee, but not for me. There is no cellphone service here at all. Don’t you think all those ads for cellular telephone providers offend my delicate sensibilities? I hadn’t much thought of it before, but yes, they do. Why not?

The Internet is important in our daily lives and in my life especially. It is necessary for research and it is how I transmit stories and articles for publication. In the ads cited above, I am offered very fast Internet, and lots of it, for cheap. But where I live my choices are terrible satellite service or even worse dialup. I chose the less-awful satellite. While the Internet service advertised on television allows up to 250 terabytes of bandwidth use per month, my satellite service — from an outfit called Wildblue — limits me to 17, which given the kind of stuff now on the Internet isn’t very much. For example, I needed to do a couple of fairly big system upgrades at the end of May. These are done online. They would get well along. Then the power would go out. When it came back, I’d have to start all over again, digging further into my quota. The result was that on the first day of the Memorial Day weekend my Internet service effectively got cut off. This hurt my feelings. The company, off on holiday weekend, didn’t care.

It gets worse: each of the communications services I have — satellite television, Internet, telephone — costs about as much as all three do together on the television ads for the service that is “not available in your area.” Injury is added to insult.

What is the answer? Should all the employees of all these corporations be forced to endure sensitivity training? (Frankly, the weekend I had no Internet, I would have recommended that the training be required and that it involve cattle prods.) Don’t they know they’re hurting my feelings?

Truth is, given the choice I’d just as soon they provide the services they advertise. If they did that, they could be as insensitive as they want, and this country bumpkin wouldn’t mind.

I’d say more, but I’d better finish this up — I hear the AEP helicopter approaching.

Dennis E. Powell is crackpot-at-large to Open for Business. Powell was an award-winning reporter in New York and elsewhere before moving to Ohio and becoming a full-time crackpot. You can reach him at