"Flush" is the name of the delightful little novel Virginia Woolf wrote in 1933 about Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cocker spaniel. Moose and I read it together this summer as part of our ongoing exploration of the literature of human-canine relationships. As one might expect, Woolf writes with piercing insight of the empathy between dog and person, but I was especially impressed with her extraordinary perceptiveness about Flush's sense of smell, which is a hard thing for humans to understand. Here is Woolf's description of Flush as a young pup (before he has gone to live with Barrett Browning) taking a walk with his mistress in a country field:
What a variety of smells interwoven in subtlest combination thrilled his nostrils; strong smells of earth, sweet smells of flowers; nameless smells of leaf and bramble; sour smells as they crossed the road; pungent smells as they entered bean-fields. But suddenly down the wind came a smell sharper, stronger, more lacerating than any--a smell that ripped across his brain stirring a thousand instincts, releasing a million memories--the smell of hare, the smell of fox. Off he flashed like a fish drawn in a rush through water further and further. He forgot his mistress; he forgot all humankind."Flush" is also what our upstairs toilet did on Friday night--the instant after Moose's cute new cell phone slipped out of her back pocket and into the swirling water. Moose never had a chance to retrieve it. She heard a plop, turned around, and thought, "What the. . .?" Only when she saw the drops of water splashed up on the seat did she remember that she had been running around with the brand new little Razr phone in her pocket all day. She reached back and felt for the sleek rectangle. "Oh, crap."
Moose came downstairs. "You're not going to believe this," she said sheepishly to me and Goose. She spent a lot of time on the (land line) phone that evening, calling Verizon to report the loss and American Express to see if their buyer's assurance program would cover it. "What number are you calling from?" somebody asked. "Well, not my cell number," Moose replied with a chuckle. On Friday everybody was funny and reassuring, but by Saturday morning some jerk from Verizon was saying that Moose would have to pay full retail price (almost $300) to get a replacement phone. This was not what she had been told on Friday, and it was definitely not what she wanted to hear. Like most consumers, however, Moose goes wobbly when confronted with a "customer service" representative whose mission is to talk in circles and beat the customer into accepting something far short of satisfaction. Moose's response to such treatment is to get angry and sarcastic, which cedes the moral high ground to the corporate robot, who then says something smarmy like, "You can get angry if you want to, m'am, but I'm still going to screw you. Have a perfectly rotten day, m'am, and thank you for calling Verizon."
In situations such as this, Goose proves that sometimes SHE is the alpha-dog in our pack. Moose hands her the phone and the paperwork and says, "Go get 'em, Thelma," and somehow she does. She can outlast anybody on the telephone, and she patiently works her way up the chain of command until she finally reaches somebody with enough sense to realize it is in the company's best interest to give her what she wants just to make her go away. "You've been so helpful, Deborah," she'll say (Goose ALWAYS gets the robot's name and uses it over and over again), "but I'm afraid you just don't have the authority to do what needs to be done here. May I speak to your supervisor, please?" Within minutes, Moose and I will hear her laughing and making jokes about how "you really wouldn't want me to go to the president's box at the University of Maryland football game tonight and say that Verizon fails to deliver customer satisfaction, now would you? I'm SO GLAD I won't have to do that!" By two o'clock yesterday afternoon, they were driving home from Bethesda with a brand new Razr phone that they had purchased for $99.99, exactly what Moose had originally paid.
The moral of story? Don't take your cell phone into the bathroom. Such accidents are more common than you might think, as this USA Today story demonstrates. The postscript to the story? We replaced the phone, but the toilet hasn't been the same since. We may end up having to call a plumber to fix our flush. Some things are beyond even Goose's amazing reparative powers.
Happy Labor Day, fans of Roxie's World. Workers of the world, WAKE UP--You're not robots, and you're all getting screwed!