Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Innocence. And Claro.

For Carolyn. Again.

While most of our Claro issues have either been resolved or are irritating parts of our lives that we simply tolerate, the company still manages to raise its ugly head every once in a while and force us to look it in the face. Ew.

As many of you know, one of Claro’s downright criminal and annoying business tactics is to send its customers what are essentially spam texts.
“For just 30 pesos a text, receive the hottest pick-up lines of the day.”
“Want to know today’s score? Click now to sign up for just 15 pesos a text.”
“Feeling lonely? Chat with a special friend now!”

Why is it criminal? Two reasons, one of which will leave your mouth agape. First of all, no matter how many times Josh and I have tried, it is impossible to blacklist/block/not receive these texts. You have to receive them. Period. Secondly—you ready for this?—each of these texts unblocks your keypad. That’s right. You can sign up for “Daily Bootylicious Photos” without even knowing it. The text is received and if you accidentally push “Ok” instead of “Back” (as read the response options on my phone) while the phone is in your pocket, then you’re signed up. And all of a sudden you’ve spent half of your monthly cell phone budget on a service that horrifies you.

So, a couple months ago, they started sending texts along with all of these other spam texts saying that if we didn’t enter our cedula number (read: equivalent social security number) to “validate” our phone number, we would lose our phone number. Poor form? Absolutely. I also didn’t believe it. Validate my number? Give me a break. Now you’re just making stuff up.

Turns out, it was real. My friend called me and asked if I had “validated” my number yet. Um, no. Well, if you don’t, she told me, they’ll take away your number. And you have to do it by tomorrow. Of course.

I found myself in a line that wrapped around the building in the midday heat in the middle of downtown. Because of course it could only be done at the main office. I patiently waited as we slowly inched inside the building, taking several steps back a few times. Several women in front of me thought it was a good idea to call all of their relatives and tell them they were saving them places in line. Bless.

When I finally got inside I swapped one discomfort for another. The air conditioning was a welcome break from the heat, but my innocent eyes were completely assaulted (C’mon, it’s my blog and I’m allowed some creative embellishing). On the main wall of the open office space is a large, flat-screen television. A higher-up had decided it would be a good idea to put on the Dominican equivalent of MTv—read: a whole lot T&A, booty-shakin’, oh-so-scantily clad women. That’ll keep most people “entertained” for the hours they’ll be standing in line. Being a Dominican kind of line (forget any personal space), which I no longer mind as much assuming there is AC, I was sandwiched between two men whose mouths kept dropping open as they stared at the screen.
When I reached the first booth, ClaroEmployee wrote down my name and let me inch onward in a line that wrapped around the large room. 

Even though we are required to be in a line, it apparently has no bearing on when you will be helped. You must wait for your name to be called. While many Dominicans have fabulously long names, mine always gets shortened to just “Rebeca” since my last name is clearly too difficult to bother with. I spent the next hour smooshed between these two men as we s l o w l y moved forward, listening to the bump&grind music while names like Jose Luis Rodriguez Alvarez or Mercedes Paola Bonilla de Jesus were called out over the intercom. 

Standard procedure was to call out the name twice and wait 10 seconds. Usually, someone would emerge from the line, but if they didn’t, their name would be called a third time followed by a five second pause. Then, assuming that person was no longer there, would say, “So-and-So has gone!”

As I waited in that ClaroDanceClub in the middle of the day, they called out the best name ever. Some people just have fantastically awkward, amazing names. Forget baby name books. Some parents are just that kind of creative/eccentric/weird/borderline crazy.

I heard over the intercom, “The Innocence of Jesus! The Innocence of Jesus!” No exaggeration. This woman’s (I assume female) name was La Inocencia de Jesus. Then a third time. The wait. And as three women swiveled their hips, wearing just corsets and thongs, on the tv screen, the ClaroEmployee said over the intercom, “The Innocence of Jesus has gone!” Indeed.

I held my laughter, but only until the next name was called and I lost it. I kid you not. Who did they call next? Who had stuck around after Christ’s innocence was gone?

“Conception! Conception!”