the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Short Tales of the Weekend

1) The Tale of our Cellular Service


About two years ago, my mobile service was ATT. The service was pretty bad. At some point, ATT were bought out by Cingular. Although Cingular seemed more organized, Sophia and I were stuck on the old “ATT” plan and Cingular treated us as second class citizens. Their customer service was rude to us on the phone, saying that we weren’t “real” Cingular customers. Eventually, we settled in with Cingular and their spotty service in Redondo Beach, and we were finally accepted as “real” Cingular customers.

On Saturday, we found out Cingular was merged with ATT and the company would be now called ATT again. WTF???????

2) The Tale of the Roomba


Sophia is always complaining that I’m trying to get female readers to love me for my sensitive side, but here’s an example where my sensitivity went too far:

My mother-in-law’s Roomba wasn’t working well, so on Saturday, I brought it home to clean. Sophia decided to test it on our living room floor. She put on the power and then followed the Roomba around as it did its job. There is something addictive about watching the robot as it curves in-and-out under the couch and the chairs. As the Roomba headed for the patio door, it got stuck on the little shag rug we keep in front of the patio in order to wipe our feet. The Roomba kept trying to release itself. It would move forward for a second, bump its head on the glass door, then move back to repeat the same action again and again. Sophia stood there, watching, waiting for it to unravel itself.

It was too much for a sensitive soul like myself.

“Sophia, take him off,” I cried, “He’s HURTING himself!”

3) The Tale of the Car Trunk


Last night, Sophia and I took a walk along the beach. On the way back home, we passed a parked BMW. I noticed that the trunk was slightly ajar, as if the owner didn’t slam it closed hard enough.

“Should I close it for them?” I asked Sophia.

“Sure,” she said. “It’ll prevent people from stealing something.”

Two or three blocks later, I noticed an uncomfortable look on Sophia’s face.

“What is it?” I asked.

“You know, maybe the owner was beaten up and THROWN into the trunk, and now we just suffocated him.”

“You watch WAY TOO MUCH TV,” I said at the time, but I had nightmares all night about the Sopranos.

4) The Tale of the Nice Blogger


Fitena of C’est La Vie send me these beautiful little gifts from Mauritius!

Thank you, Fitena. You are so sweet. One day, I would love to come visit you in person.  I saw on the package that you sent it on December 20th, bu I didn’t receive it until yesterday, February 3rd!  Let’s hear it for the Mauritius and U.S. Postal Services!

5) The Tale of the Super Bowl

Sophia is over at a Super Bowl Party. I’m blogging. Do I have to make believe I care? But I hope Chicago wins for Kevin’s sake. You know someone is a crazed fan when they change their header photo to their favorite team.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: The Photo Shoot


  1. savannah

    found you via the dogs name …great posts..thanks for the read …

  2. Alison

    Your sensitivity to the Roomba melts my heart. I mean, I knew you were a nice guy, but…wow.

  3. Hilly

    Oh you’ve got to be fucking kidding me with the Cingular thing. Great, well I hope SBC and AT&T can actually get us better coverage in their quest for world domination.

    I’m having a hard time not cheering for my hubby’s home team because of my dearest blog-crush, Kevin. Oh what’s a girl to do?

  4. ms. sizzle

    i’m sad for kevin. this is going to be way worse than when he lost his favorite tupperware.

    i had the same problem with cingular. ugh! fewest dropped calls my ass.

  5. V-Grrrl

    Your therapist will say your strong association with the Roomba banging its face against the door while Sophia watches is significant.

    Your therapist should PAY you for getting to hear your stories.

  6. Churlita

    I was just looking at Verizon. Does anyone have any feelings good or bad about them?

    I love the hodge podge post. It’s so different than what you normally write.

    I would be a little scared to have any kind of robot in my house. I grew up watching way too many cheesy seventies sci-fi movies. I’d be sure it would suck the life out of me while I slept – whether I felt sorry for it earlier in the day or not.

  7. Neil

    Churlita, I’m not an expert, but you should ask people in your neighborhood what they find best because one company can be great in one city, and stink in another one.

  8. Fitena

    Wow! 2 months! Am relieved you finally received the package! How can i help but be nice to someone who hurts for a hurting roomba huh? 🙂


  9. Lux Lisbon

    I use to date someone like that Roomba.

  10. reese

    Does it help that I read you because you make me laugh, not that I think you are sensitive? LOL

  11. Finn

    Remember when there was only one telephone company? And remember when they broke it up because it was a monopoly? Why are they putting it back together now?

  12. Diva

    I loathe AT&T. They over charge and their support is rude. I changed over to Verizon and never looked back. Their support isn’t that bright, but they’re polite. Somehow that equals it out.

  13. Jazz

    It’s tough being a Roomba…

  14. Dagny

    It must be a regional thing with the cellphone coverage. Their coverage here is fantastic. Then again, I may be biased as I used to work for the Death Star.

    In answer to Churlita’s question, in most areas either AT&T or Verizon has the best coverage.

  15. Nance

    Dear Dr. Neil,
    Is it wrong of me to want a Roomba just for the entertainment value as it interacts with my freakshow cats?

  16. Katie

    Thanks for showin’ the Roomba some love. My husband works at the company that makes them, and you’re definitely not the only person to get attached to your Roomba (or PackBot, for that matter).

  17. Neil

    Katie, I didn’t realize that iRobot also makes PackBot. Luckily, I don’t need one of those just yet.

  18. kapgar

    I change my entire template for them and they lose. Well, I’m back to the old template for anyone who happens to go check. Sorry. It hurt too much to look at.

    Wait, Cingular’s becoming AT&T again? Are you sure? I heard AT&T is losing all their cellular service and focusing solely on landline phone service, cable, and internet. So now no more Cingular? What the heck???

  19. Rhea

    Yeah, I think the Roomba story was the hardest for me. So sad.

  20. Bre

    I’m secretly in love with the fancy red roomba that amazon has. Well… no so secretly now.

  21. Laura

    I had the exact same thoughts about the AT&T/Cingular situation. What are you doing inside my head?

  22. Jack

    Once upon a time I had Cingular. They were horrible so I got rid of them and became a T-Mobile Man.

    That worked for a number of years, but I have to say that I am much happier being a part of Verizon. The reception is better and that makes all the difference to me.

  23. savannah

    stuck with t-mobile *grrrrrrr*

  24. Dana

    Big Brother marries Ma Bell. Any way you look at it, it’s all just one big incestuous conglomerate. Sigh.

    Did you put a band-aid on Roomba’s boo-boo? Wait, wasn’t he born with padding on his head?

    I’d tell you to scan the LA Times to find out about any possible actual car trunk faux pas, but I guess you’re not reading it anymore since they rejected your letter.

  25. Eileen

    The Roomba story touched me. I’m not sure what they says about me.

  26. Eileen Dover

    Oh evil.

    You weren’t cheering for the Colts???

  27. Edgy Mama

    Ahhh, the Roomba! That’s the way to a girl’s heart!

  28. rach

    What the bollocks is a roomba? Is it a remote control thing that cleans? Oh holy crap, I just died and went to domestic heaven. I gotta get me one of those bad boys. And it has feelings too! Can I talk to it about my problems and will it answer back? Oh am so googling this right now!

  29. Leezer

    I’m perplexed by the your new writing genre: vignettes. My reptilian brain cannot possible leap around like a flea on the back of a dog. Please confine your subsequent posts to linear threads of conciousness or the equivalent thereof (whatever the f**k that means).
    Luv N Stuff,

  30. claire

    The time my trunk was not quite closed was because it had been broken into. Hopefully that wasn’t the case for your stranger.

  31. teahouseblossom

    All cell phone companies suck hairy donkey balls and should die.

    And I’m sorry your Bears didn’t win!

  32. gorillabuns

    i’m sorry, i couldn’t get past the roomba, then my brain short circuited to a saturday night live skit called, “the woomba,” then all was lost.

  33. SFGary

    I had a similar experience like yours. One customer service person said that the text messaging on my new phone did not work because of my old AT&T Wireless plan and I should upgrade to a new 2 yr. cingular plan…even though it worked before. Since I wasn’t born yesterday I said no. She tried to bargain down to a year. I refused, hung up and called right back. A new, smarter rep fixed the problem in a minute. I couldn’t help but poke gentle fun saying that I started with AT&T, went to Cingular and now was bk. with AT&T and reminded her that I had managed to not switch plans. This woman had the grace to laugh.

    These large oligopolies are so lazy and fat that they can’t market their way out of a paper bag. If you think we have bad service now wait till they buy up SW Bell and other smaller players…we may as well go back to the rotary phones.

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