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Corrente’s Policy on Activism

bringiton's picture

Corrente’s policy on activism discourages violence, a position with which I wholeheartedly agree. In that spirit let us all unite in clearly and unequivocally condemning the deplorable actions described below. Retelling the story should in no way be considered supportive or an endorsement of such rash and dangerous conduct.

Mona Shaw of Bristow, Virginia, is an unlikely criminal. At 75, the former registered nurse has been married to husband Don for 45 years and remains active in spite of a heart condition, lifting weights at a local gym and serving as secretary for both the local AARP chapter and a square-dancing club. The couple, both retired from careers in the Air Force, attends a Unitarian Universalist church and takes in strays for the local animal shelter; they currently care for seven dogs.

Last August the Shaws made an appointment with Comcast to expand their service to the new “Triple Play” package including internet, television and telephone. On Monday, August 13, the Shaws waited at home all day but claim the installers never showed. When they finally did arrive on Wednesday, they did not have all the needs parts and left the Shaws with only partial service. On Friday morning, Comcast cut off all service.

Understandably not happy, the Shaws drove to the Comcast office in Manassas to complain in person. Mona demanded to speak with a manager and was assured someone would be right with them, but they were asked to meanwhile please wait on a bench – outside. This is August, recall, in Virginia; the high that afternoon was 93°F. So the Shaws waited, and waited and waited for two hours, at which time the customer representative stuck her head out of the office door and announced that the manager had left and thanks for coming by!

The Shaws, especially Mona, were now very unhappy. As Mona put it, “They thought just because we're old enough to get Social Security that we lack both brains and backbone." After all weekend to mull it over, on Monday morning she grabbed her husband and a claw hammer and headed for the door saying "C'mon, honey, we're going to Comcast." Asked if he considered trying to stop her, Don said "Oh no, no."

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(Photo by Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)

As Mona tells the tale, “It had never occurred to me to take a hammer to a phone company before, but I was just so upset.” She walked in the door and smacked the hammer down on the customer rep’s keyboard. “After I hit the keyboard, I turned to this blonde who had been there the previous Friday, the one who told me to wait for the manager, and I said, ‘Now do I have your attention?' "

Somebody called 911. Mona remembered her telephone service had been disconnected too, so she applied the hammer to the office phone. "I figured, 'Hey, my telephone is screwed up, so is yours.'" People ran, screaming. Mona took her hammer to the office computer monitor. The police arrived. Mona took one more swing at the phone. "They cuffed me right then," she recalls.

But the excitement and exertion took its toll. According to Mona, "My blood pressure went up around my ears. I started hyperventilating. They had to call the rescue squad and put me on a litter." By the time it was over, she recalled, there were an ambulance, two police cruisers and a sergeant's car in the parking lot.

Beth Bacha, a vice president and spokesperson for Comcast, said company records did not agree with the Shaw’s version of events and commented that "Nothing justifies this sort of dangerous behavior."

Mona’s view of Comcast: "What a bunch of sub-moronic imbeciles."

Shaw said many people have called her a hero. "But no,” she said, “I'm just an old lady who got mad. I had a hissy fit," Mona was given a three-month suspended sentence for misdemeanor disorderly conduct, fined $345 for restitution and made subject to a restraining order barring her from the Comcast office for a year. That shouldn’t be an inconvenience for the Shaws, who now subscribe to Verizon and DirecTV.

Oh, and the hammer? Police gave it back.


A song for Mona here

Sourced from a WaPo story by Neely Tucker here and AP reportage here.

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vicki's picture
Submitted by vicki on

I swear to the ever-loving mysterious cloud being, that behavior is in the Comcast Employee Manual.

Treat the customer like a third-grader, a lying third grader. No amount of discomfort on anyone's part will interrupt the flow of any employee's day. Tell that pesky customer anything just to shut them up.

Thankfully, Mona never went for anyone's skull. She was, after all, just seeking someone's attention.

That's my girl.

Submitted by lambert on

0. All policies emanate from The Fellows of The Mighty Corrente Building. Decisions by the Fellows are arbitrary and final.

1. What Corrente forbids, and will censor, is the commission of felonies, including content comes anywhere close.

2. What Corrente has discouraged is advocacy of violence in general, for the good and sufficient reasons that (a) it's not clear that such tactics have had good results in the past (the "meet the new boss" problem), where non violence has a track record of some success. A subsidiary reason (b) only a fool or a totally unserious person would advocate violence in a public forum. So, at worst we could end up getting the blog in real trouble for totally unserious reasons; and at best infested with trolls. Not a good combination. Finally, (c) the only serious advocate I can imagine would be an agent provocateur, another bad combination.

Over and out; this will be my last comment on this thread. If The Fellows need to talk any of this over, let's do in email, please.

NOTE Bringiton, I fixed the width of your photo; it was wrecking the margins and making the blog look bad. Presumably you hadn't noticed after pressing the Submit button. You can check your code to see what I did.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I was once told by a Comcast CSR that I "needed" to return a "failing" cable modem to Comcast's storefront at such-and-such an address, so I disconnected it and got in the car.

The address turned out to be Comcast's accounting operation, not their storefront, and they had a stack of xeroxed and highlighted maps at the reception desk showing how to get from there to the actual Comcast storefront. I thought that was interesting, so I asked how often they had to give those out. "Every damn day," said the reception person. And for how long? "Ever since we opened this office, four years ago." And had they tried to get the CSRs to stop giving out their address and start giving out the address of the storefront instead? "Oh, yes... you have NO idea."

With kind regards,
Dog, etc.

PS - exchanging the modem did not fix the problem, which turned out to be a failed component somewhere "upstream" from my residence. Which was also the simplest explanation for the outage, as I tried to tell the CSR. (Who would not hear it, not for worlds.)

Some of them are just really bad at their jobs, and the company doesn't seem to care about that.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Re: Lambert above;

0. Your (the Fellows) blog, your rules; your authority to formulate and enforce them is absolute, should be no question of any of that in anyone’s mind. First sentences were an affirmation of that fact, fully respectful and as you’ve recounted, accurate.

1. Properly so, fully respected.

2. Properly so, fully respected.

NOTE: Thank you Lambert for the photo repairs, sorry about the improper sizing. I had for whatever reasons struggled with getting the photo to appear and when it finally did, I closed down and went to bed. Had no intention of making the blog look bad, in any way.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

The frustration of having to deal with "service" companies is growing beyond all pale. I have spent over 3 hrs on the phone to some Indian that cannot speak english and they're trying to tell me how to fix my computer! What a freaking joke!

Violence is naturally going to be an end to frustration both in the corporate world and the political world. How long will people have to be ignored by their "representatives" before somebody decides they have had enough of this war and all the lies that led up to it and try to take matters in their own hands. I do not condone that sort of thing. Impeachment, conviction and the harshest punishment available to traitors would be fine with me.