Saturday's Virtual Fisticuffs

Normally I am a reasonable, easygoing person. Today, though, not so much.

My schedule is.... well, mostly it's work. We work a lot. I have several different teaching jobs and then also some print and graphics things, Julie works a daunting schedule at the juvenile rehab where she is employed as a counselor-- in fact, she pulled a double shift today because someone called in sick and they couldn't get it covered. Generally when I write this column it's Friday night or Saturday morning, because that's all the spare time that's left; Sunday is usually my day to deal with the other freelance writing and perhaps even spend some time with my wife.

So this morning I figured with Julie still being at work, I would take care of some household chores beforehand, including straightening out a billing problem with the cable company. Without boring you with all the details, suffice it to say we canceled our cable television but kept our phone service, and they keep trying to bill us for the TV along with the phone, though we don't have cable TV any more. Since this is the second month in a row they've tried to collect for a service they're not providing, I needed to deal with it. You know, just tidying up some office crap before settling in for the column. It seems so long ago and far away as I write this.

My mistake, you see, was attempting to use the online interface. "Chat with a representative!" I thought it would take fifteen or twenty minutes. Back when I was young and foolish.

That was this morning. It's evening now.

I was on with the guy for hours. After waiting for half an hour for him to show up. I kept my temper, because swearing at an online flunky gets you nowhere, but after patiently explaining for the fourth time what my problem was ...I finally cracked. I was still polite but I stopped pretending he was being helpful. It didn't matter. His painfully-courteous obstructionism was almost admirable in its inevitable circle back to the beginning of the conversation.

(Cut-n-pasted; I am not embellishing.)

Representative: That is a good question sir. I will try and find the answer for you. I totally understand your frustration. I apologize for your inconvenience. When I am not here I'm a customer as well and these problems it can be extremely frustrating.

Me: I appreciate these sentiments, truly. Your customer interactions and politeness are a credit to your entire profession. But this is the fourth time you have apologized and yet I am still here, my question still unanswered. I don't need soothing, I need you to find out what the actual dollar amount it is we owe you, and explain why we are charged late fees this month for a service canceled the month before last. It is your PROBLEM-SOLVING skills I need to call on now. Perhaps if the tools to properly administrate this issue are not available to you, you can direct me to someone with the authority to actually make a decision regarding the billing.

Representative: I am doing my best to help you sir. Yes, the service was canceled. That means there should be no more fees.

Me: That is a comfort, but I'm talking about THESE fees right here on the October bill. After we canceled. Why are those there?

Representative: I understand. I am doing my best. I apologize for this inconvenience.

Me: Your graciousness in this matter is admirable. I understand that you are doing your best. That was never in question. My concern is that your best is not adequate to the task. If you are actually not authorized to take action, can you please at least find me someone who is? If you are not empowered to adjust or correct the billing, I do not understand why you are the representative I was directed to.

Representative: That is a good question sir. I will try and find the answer for you.

And on. And on. And on. I ask for an answer and he promises to find one and then comes back and assures me he understands. I ask for the answer to the original question and he assures me he will do his best. Rinse and repeat.

Now, part of the problem was me being stubborn, because their entire system is designed to make you so irritated you'll give up. After a while I got the bit in my teeth and swore I was going to hang in there until it was handled to my satisfaction. Captain America and Superman and Batman never give up. I would by God live up to their example. There would be justice.

This was probably dumb, in retrospect.

Well, we went the distance. The rep dithered, he swore up and down there was no problem, we went over the dates again, the service period versus the billing period, he didn't understand his computer record's disparity on the dates but he certainly agreed there had been a problem.... it was like being in some kind of feedback loop. I was grimly, politely relentless.

I won, I guess. He finally got whatever authorization he needed from his bosses and fixed it and removed the fees and the cancellation was noted properly. The end. And all I lost was a day's work.

Since it took most of the work day and left me in such a foul temper, the column I was going to do for this week is going to have to wait. My eyes are grainy and I have a horrible headache and my back hurts. The last thing I want to do is try to write coherently about comics. I am tired of typing and I hate all humanity and really I want to hit things.

So here are a few of my favorite panels of comics characters hitting things.

Art by Scott McCloud, from DESTROY!

Brian Bolland with the greatest Judge Dredd panel ever done.

It's always fun to see Guy Gardner getting his ass kicked. Here's a Bart Sears page from Justice League Europe.

A Kubert classic. You have to admire the Atom's thematic improvisation there.

Jim Aparo shows us Aquaman was a badass long before Geoff Johns made it his mission to prove it.

John Byrne with a vertical smash.

Walt Simonson gets his Kirby on.

And of course Kirby himself.

More Kirby, with bonus hair-pulling.

But really the best face-hitter in comics was Sal Buscema, it was his go-to move. (There's even a regular feature about it here on the 80-Page Giant blog.) Here's a classic Sal Buscema Hulk shot.

Here's one with a little philosophy for the villain to consider as he goes hurtling into intensive care.

And here's a DOUBLE shot!

...okay. Whew.

Well, I don't know about you, but I feel a little better. Looking those up was actually sort of cathartic.

I think I'm going to fix a sandwich and go watch this, because it always cheers me up. Meanwhile, feel free to post some links to your own favorite comics beatdowns below in the comments if you like.

See you next week.

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