The late Lenny Bruce, perhaps the most influential American comedian of the 20th century, jokingly advised his audience one night, “Never get hot with the phone company.” He explained and I’m paraphrasing, “If you get out of line with Macy’s you can always go to Gimbels, but the phone company is like the Soviet Union, it’s a dictatorship. If you’re not careful you’ll wind up with a Dixie-cup and thread.” With that in mind, I proceed with caution.

You see, as I write this, for four days now I’ve been without phone service thanks to Verizon. Actually, I should say Frontier Communications, which, as of April 1, took over Verizon’s landline phone, TV and Internet services in California. With all Frontier’s transition “glitches” it’s been a very auspicious two weeks.

It’s a little ironic but it appears that after all these years of hating on Verizon, since the takeover by Frontier, I now long for the good old days when I was only miserable. And yet, because many of my neighbors at the Shores are without TV, phone and Internet since last Friday, I almost feel lucky.

Let’s go back to when I first called Verizon to report my phone being out. I can’t fully describe the dread I always feel about calling Verizon. But this time I immediately had a sense it was going to be worse when I learned that I had to call another number for Frontier. In fact, it took a few calls to even get to speak to a human being. What a world it’s become when it’s almost a privilege to talk to a human.

The human was a seemingly very nice female tech support in the Philippines. That is, until she kept repeating, “Not to worry.” She did it so often it got on my nerves. Over the years, experience has taught me that when tech support says, “Not to worry,” it’s time to start worrying.

Poor woman, she kept having to put me on hold to ask questions of her supervisor. Poor me, I kept being put on hold. Finally, she accepted the reality that there was no freakin’ way she could fix the problem, something I had sensed an hour ago. Now she connected me with someone to make an appointment for a repair person to come to my apartment. And yes, once again I was put on hold! (In a modern day Dante’s Inferno, one level of Hell would have to be “On Hold.”)

Oh but dear friends, it got worse. When the next human came on the phone I was told the soonest anyone can come out wasn’t for three days. And I was also told that my appointment time would be between noon and 5 p.m. (God forbid I should have a life.)

As I was resigned to my fate, a friend in the South Tower called who had lots of nightmare experiences with Verizon. So much so he said, “I have the number of a guy who’ll get someone out there almost immediately.” It sounded like a mafia connection. “Psst, you, see I know a guy who knows a guy. Interested?”  Guess what?  I called his “guy” and sure enough, though he shall remain nameless, the gentleman (notice he’s gone from “guy” to “gentleman”) had a repair person out to me within the hour.  I was thrilled.

The repair person, let’s call him Bob, seemed terrific. Unfortunately, to get to my cable connections we had to move furniture. Don’t ask how or why it was set up that way originally, it didn’t matter now. It was worth moving the furniture until two hours later, when Bob informed me nothing’s working. He added, however, “I have one more thing I could try… but you could also lose your Internet and phone.” Some offer, huh?  I said, “Gee, Bob, when you put it that way, no thanks!”

“So what are we going to do?” I asked in desperation.  Folks, I swear I’m not making this up but he responded, “Often, these things take care of themselves, it’s just going to take time.”  I couldn’t believe my ears! “Bob, that’s like the doctor saying take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” (He didn’t get it, I only hope you did.)

All of the above was written on Tuesday. It’s now Thursday morning and, as I’m about to send this column in, I’m relieved to tell you that my TV connection is back. I even got to see Kobe’s amazing final game against Utah in which he scored 60 points!

Now that you’ve allowed me to vent my frustration, I only hope no big-shot from Frontier happens to read this. If by chance they do, I should probably go out now and buy a Dixie-cup and some thread.

Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and jnsmdp@aol.com.