Corrente’s Policy on Activism
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."
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