The Time Warner Cable Chronicles: A Terrifyingly True Tale of Customer Service Hell

1138274_button_for_web_pages_2 WEEK ONE

I press one for English, two for technical support, three for Internet problems. I assure the monotone robotic voice, which I have dubbed Hal, that I did in fact try rebooting my computer but I don’t think Hal believes me. I press one aggressively until Hal decides I’m not just f—–g with him. Ten minutes later I’m told a live human is eager to talk to me, then promptly placed on hold. A twenty-minute stream of elevator music is occasionally punctuated by Hal’s I-can’t-allow-you-to-do-that-Dave voice assuring me that someone really does give a shit and that they’re looking forward to assisting me.

It’s not like I expected them to bust out ACDC, but this mournful saxophone music clearly wasn’t chosen by someone that doesn’t want me to take a steak knife to my eardrums.

“Please,” I murmur, my head slumping. “I just…want…to google stuff…”

“Thank you for calling Time Warner Cable. This is Jennifer. How can I help you today?”

“Hi, Jennifer. My Internet connection is currently only theoretical.”

Before she agrees to help, she asks me to verify an extensive amount of personal info: name, address, phone number, social security number, favorite Jonas Brother.

“Alright, Miss Burbank—”

“Burback.”

“—have you tried rebooting the computer?”

“Yes. Several times.”

“And the Internet cord is plugged in?”

“Correct.”

“Hmm…”

There’s a long pause.

“Miss Burback, I’m going to take a look at the connection from my end. Bear with me just a moment…” Several minutes pass until Jennifer concludes, “It’s showing that you’re offline.” There’s some clickety click on her end and then, “I’m going to send a signal to your modem.”

“Cool.”

Ten minutes later the Internet—and the promise of endless hours of watching YouTube videos of cats playing Casio keyboards—is back.

“Oh! Thank you, Jennifer!”

“Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

“No. I’m great. Oh, wait, actually the screen just went—”

“Once again my name is Jennifer and thank you for calling Time Warner Cable. Have a great day.”

“Wait! The Internet just went out ag—”

Click.

I stare at my “cannot find server” screen as the dial tone blares. I take a deep breath and redial.

Twenty minutes after I’ve redialed I’m still on hold. Human contact is nowhere in sight, although Hal’s robotic voice assures me that someone will be with me shortly. The endless Kenny G soundtrack makes me want to punch a kitten.

“Jennifer,” I moan. “Oh, Jennifer…”

When I try to alleviate my smooth jazz headache by removing my ear from the phone, I’m horrified to discover that the music continues to play inside my head. I decide that this is probably a good time to hang up and continue to live my life. I tell myself that whatever is causing the issue might resolve itself by tomorrow. Little do I know that Time Warner is about to send me on the kind of mental journey that drove a cinematic Jack Nicholson to snap and chase his loved ones around a hotel with an axe.

CALL THREE

“Thank you for calling Time Warner Cable. My name is Dan. How can I help you?”

“Oh! Oh, oh, oh, oh!”

“Pardon?”

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I’m just so excited to hear your voice. I’ve been on hold for twenty minutes and I’ve been bored out of my mind. I found two spiders in my apartment and tried to race them but the big one just ate the other one.”

“I see…”

“Sorry. Anyway, my Internet hasn’t been working since yesterday and I’d, um… like it to.”

Dan guides me through the same procedure Jennifer did, but fifteen minutes later I’m still blinking at a “cannot find server” screen.

“So what do we do now?” I say.

“We’ll send out a technician. How’s Friday afternoon for you?”

“Really? You can’t get someone out until the end of the week? And actually, I’m really busy Friday so maybe—”

“The next available appointment is the following Wednesday.”

I grit my teeth. “Friday it is.”

TECHNICIAN ONE

“Hi,” I smile. I open the door wide and make a “come on in” gesture. The technician nods slightly but doesn’t enter the apartment.

I stand there, awkwardly holding the door open. He stares at me without blinking.

“So, um… are you guys like vampires? Do I have to invite you in?”

He lumbers past me and then stares at my computer screen for a full minute.

“You’ve tried unplugging it and then replugging it?”

“Yeah. Most of my week has consisted of a combination of wishful thinking, rebooting, and aggressive finger crossing.”

He pokes something under the desk. “That’s a pretty crappy modem you’ve got there. Where did you get it?”

“From you guys.”

“We don’t use those anymore. I’ll go get you a better modem from my car.”

“And that’ll fix it?”

He stares at me a long time and then leaves.

When he hooks up the shiny new modem, the Internet pops onto the screen and I hug him as if he just saved my baby from a fire.

“Oh, thank you!” I look around for something to reward his kind act. “Dr. Pepper?”

“No, I’m good. Is there anything else?”

“That’ll do it. And thank you so much. I do a lot of freelance work from home and the Internet is vital to my continued employment and financial wellbeing. Also I like that dancing golden retriever YouTube video.”

He gives me a look and leaves. I sit down to resume my life as a proud Googler and YouTuber. I go to check my email and am greeted with a popup that whisks the smile from my face.

Cannot connect to server.

I sprint out of my apartment to catch the technician before he leaves. I have just enough time to watch his van blow through a red light.

CALL FIVE

“Thank you for calling Time Warner Cable. This is Michael. How can I help you?”

“Oh, thank god! I was on hold for twenty minutes and then it just hung up on me. I had to call back and wait another fifteen minutes to hear your kind, caring voice. You will be kind… won’t you, Michael?”

“Yes, ma’am. How can I help you?”

“A technician came to my apartment today to fix my Internet. But it’s still not working.”

Michael insists on going through a fifteen-minute diagnostics process, after which he determines “it says your Internet’s offline.”

“Yes, agreed,” I say. “So can we get somebody back out here? There’s still plenty of daylight left. I really need this to work by Mon—”

“Wednesday is the earliest available appointment. Would that work?”

“Next Wednesday? But that’s five more days!”

Michael’s voice hardens to show me that he won’t be putting up with any of my sassafras.

“Wednesday is the earliest appointment, ma’am.”

“It’s just that I work online and I really need to—”

“Shall I put you down for between one and three on Wednesday?”

“—make money so I can buy soda and TV dinners and—”

“Does that time period work for you?”

“—still have a job by the end of next week.”

“I put you down for Wednesday afternoon.”

My head slumps in defeat.

“You win, Michael. You win.”

WEEK TWO

CALL SEVEN

“Hello. Something something something Time Warner Cable. This is Fuzzlebucket.”

“Fuzzlebucket?”

“Felicia.”

“Oh,” I frown. “Sorry. You sound a bit muffled.”

She says something else but it’s hard to make out. I think I hear chomping.

“Felicia, are you…are you eating potato chips?”

The chomping stops.

“How can I help you today?” she sighs.

338699_talking “Well, I made an appointment for a technician to come to my apartment and fix the Internet today. He was actually supposed to come on Wednesday but he was a no show and they told me he’d for sure be coming today between one and three. It’s really, really dark outside, Felicia.”

“Mmm. You say your Internet’s not working. Let me just do some diagnostics on my end…”

“That’s actually not necessary. At this point I really just need someone to show up and fix—”

“This will just take a moment.”

I try my best to be patient, but after perusing a magazine and then singing the Animaniacs theme song ten times in my head I glance at the clock and realize the “moment” has just eaten up a quarter of my Verizon minutes.

“Spolier alert, Felicia: the computer’s offline.”

She continues to type something for another minute. Finally:

“Miss Burbank—”

“Burback.”

“—it’s saying the computer’s offline. We’re definitely going to need to send a technician out.”

I snap a pencil in half and make my voice sing-song chipper. “And I’m assuming the earliest available appointment is next week?”

WEEK THREE

TECHNICIAN THREE

“You’re actually the third technician they’ve sent out but I’ve got a good feeling about you. You’re a go-getter. A problem solver. I can see it in your eyes.”

He scratches his nose with his knuckle and stares at me.

“Uh huh. So they already replaced the modem?”

“Twice now. I’m going to make a bold hypothesis and say that it’s not the modem.”

“Lemme check your wiring.”

He surveys each corner of the room, then starts tinkering with a socket. There’s a series of scraping and banging noises that intensifies until it sounds like someone’s murdering R2D2.

“There. Go check your Internet,” he says.

I trot to the computer.

“It’s working! It’s working, Joaquin!” I turn to him with moist, grateful eyes. “Is it me or does the air smell like dreams?”

“The air smells kinda like Arby’s. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“No. I mean, it’ll work for good now…right?”

“Well… sure.”

“Thank you so much. I was afraid I was going to have to keep calling customer service again and again and again. That hold music makes me want to kick a dolphin in the face.”

He thanks me for being a valued Time Warner customer and I thank him for being an Internet god. He leaves and I sit in my computer chair. I’m practically giddy. I feel like an otter being reintroduced to the wild after having oil spill sludge violently scrubbed off my body by an eco-hippie.

Fast-forward two hours:

“Cannot find server.”

CALL EIGHT

“You said the technician left exposed wires hanging out of a socket, ma’am?”

“Yeah. Before he got the Internet to work for a nanosecond he was fiddled with different things throughout the apartment. After he left I noticed a socket hanging off the wall with frayed wires dangling out. And these are not friendly-looking wires. I’m pretty sure if I throw popcorn kernels at them I’ll instantly have a delicious snack.”

“But they’re in a corner? Away from major traffic?”

“Yeah, but still,” I say. “This hodgepodge of frayed wires is how you kill a shark at the end of a Steven Spielberg movie, not something to be considered safe decorum. Thank god I’m not the owner of a curious toddler. He would’ve been a Jackson Pollock painting all over my walls by now.”

“Alright. I’m checking technician availability and we can send someone out next Monday if that works for—Miss Burback? I’m sorry but I didn’t catch what you just said. Are you—are you crying?”

“No,” I snap. “But I am taking deep breaths into an empty McDonald’s bag. Can I please speak to a supervisor? I’d like to think that given the duration of the problem, someone at the management level might be willing to help accelerate the—”

“My supervisor’s currently on the phone. Would you like me to have her call you back? It should be less than ten minutes.”

“That would be great, thanks.”

I keep my phone handy as I reach for the cheesy self-help book a relative recently forced upon me. I frown at the book’s cover: Who Moved my Cheese? “The answer is Time Warner,” I mutter. “Time Warner Cable moved my cheese.”

I read a chapter.

Then another.

Then another.

Hours pass. Birds stop singing outside and dusk streaks the sky. I realize I’m going to have to go through the thirty-minute “please hold” procedure just to ask a customer service rep what shiny object diverted the supervisor’s attention for six full hours.

I pop a preemptive Tylenol and soon I’m listening to the fuzzy hold music that has become my daily soundtrack.

“They said what?” my latest customer service rep says thirty minutes later after I’ve explained the scenario. “I’m sorry the last customer service rep told you that. But our supervisors rarely return calls in the first twenty four hours.”

Long silence.

“I’m sorry about that,” the chipper voice continues. “But if you like, I can set up an appointment for a technician to come fix your Internet. How does next Tuesday work for you?”

GetAttachment WEEK FOUR

CALL ELEVEN

“The technician came and your Internet’s still not working? Are you sure?”

“Trust me. I wouldn’t mentally block out the day I no longer had the urge to stab myself in the eye with a ballpoint pen every time I glanced at my computer. I need someone to fix this—please stop sending technicians that simply replace my modem and then give me a high five. I’d like a skilled manager or supervisor to come to my apartment, hold me close, whisper that everything’s going to be okay, and then permanently fix my Internet.”

“Why don’t I see if—”

Silence.

“Rick?”

I grip the phone tight.

“Rick?”

Dial tone.

“Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick!!!”

CALL TWELVE

“I’m so sorry you were disconnected, Miss Burbank—”

“Burback. So can we have a supervisor come out and fix this problem?”

“Sure. I’m going to expedite this issue and—”

She pauses when I emit a giddy squeal.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “It’s just that no one has used the word expedite yet.”

“Would tomorrow between one and three work for you?”

“Yes! Oh, thank you! Normally they make me wait three days.”

“Well, we had a cancellation so you’re in luck.”

“Oh.”

It’s like winning a race because the guy in front of you’s head suddenly exploded… but I’ll take it.

TECHNICIAN FIVE

The technical supervisor stares at my computer, then at me. I don’t like the bewildered expression on his face. And I really don’t like what he says next.

“Yeah, I honestly don’t know why they sent me over. This clearly isn’t a modem issue at this point. And it says in this case file they’re pretty sure the problem is an outdoor one. Probably underground cables.” He points toward the sky. “So, yeah…not sure why I’m here, really. I’m just an indoor technician. So you need to call them and tell them you’ve got an outdoor problem. They can probably send someone in a couple days. Anything else I can help you with?”

The noise I make falls somewhere between “extremely forlorn human” and “dying howler monkey.”

CALL THIRTEEN

“Hmm. I’m looking at your chart and it shows you’ve been contacting us quite a bit.”

I was annoyed by the way she said it, as if I were Time Warner’s creepy ex-girlfriend that wouldn’t stop calling.

“I call quite a bit because the service I pay for every month hasn’t worked in weeks and no one at Time Warner seems terribly concerned about this… although your billing department hasn’t missed a beat.”

“It says we just had a technician over.”

“Yeah. He fixed the frayed crackling wires in the corner so I don’t end up on 1,000 Ways to Die, but my expectations were higher. Working Internet higher.”

“Maybe I can assist you. Can you do me a favor and check to see if the modem is plugged in? You’d be surprised how many—”

I take a deep breath and try to think of puppies and rainbows and daffodils and all that jazz but all I can picture is the Time Warner Cable headquarters blowing up like a Peep in a microwave.

“The technician told me that my problem is now apparently an outdoor issue,” I say through violently clenched teeth. “And he wasn’t an outdoor technician, you see. Here’s the deal, Cindy: I need someone over here that can actually fix this, not someone that enters my apartment looking like one of those dogs that wanders into a room and immediately forgets why he’s done so. And no more of this ‘but I’m an indoor cat’ bullshit, either. If your records say it’s an outdoor issue, I need someone willing to go outside.”

“Well, okay… we can send another technician out next—”

“Next as in not this week.”

“Correct.”

She gives me options for appointments next week—one—and asks if it works for me.

“I’ll be out of town that day,” I say, trying not to panic.

“Is there someone that can let the technician in?”

“Well…I can have someone in my apartment’s rental office give him a key.”

“Great. So then the technician has permission to enter without your presence?”

I do a quick mental comparison of the concept of an unaccompanied stranger in my home vs. no Internet forever. Stranger wins. I’m to the point of desperation where I don’t care if a technician spends half his day masturbating into my shampoo bottle while wearing my panties as a ski mask—as long as he fixes the Internet. And besides, when it comes to stealing, my apartment isn’t exactly a garden of material temptation. Something tells me I’m not going to come home and exclaim, “Holy crap! He took the Dumb and Dumber VHS and the Funyuns!”

“So I’ve made a note here that the tech will be entering without your presence.”

“Great,” I say. “Just please, please…don’t let him leave without fixing it.”

“Of course, ma’am! You have a lovely day now.”

I have another question but it’s answered with dial tone.

WEEK FIVE

I return home and see the note I’d left for the technician on my front door. It reads:

Dear Time Warner technician,

Today is an exciting day for you because you have the opportunity to halt someone’s descent into madness. Please, please, PLEASE do not leave until this Internet issue is permanently resolved. Hauling your laptop to Starbucks late at night and fending off the advances of an aggressive hobo just to check your email is no way to live. The office has a key waiting for you at the front desk. Thanks in advance!

–Court Burback

On top of my note is a little slip of paper that says:

Sorry we missed you! Please call Time Warner Cable customer service to reschedule your appointment.

—Time Warner Cable

I take a deep breath. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not…

And I don’t cry. But I do yell some HBO words loud enough to scatter a flock of pigeons.

CALL FOURTEEN

“Well, of course he didn’t go into the apartment, ma’am. An adult eighteen or over needs to be on the premises for the technician to enter.”

“But that’s not what the last customer service rep sa—”

“Perhaps you misunderstood. But don’t worry—I can schedule you a new appointment for—”

“Next week?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

Long silence.

“Ma’am?”

“I’d like to speak to a manager.”

“I…are you sure I can’t help with—”

“Remove everything in that sentence except ‘can’t help’ and we’ve got a full synopsis of the scenario. Manager, please.”

I’m placed on hold for ten minutes until…

Click.

CALL FIFTEEN

“Thank you for calling Time Warner Cable. My name is—”

Click.

CALL SIXTEEN

“Please,” I beg before the customer service rep can get his name out. “Don’t disconnect me. Please just connect me with a manager.”

He attempts to address my Internet issues himself (“Is the Ethernet cord plugged in securely, ma’am?”), but I keep moaning “manager…for the love of God, manager…” until he says he’ll transfer me.

“Please hold,” he sighs.

This time I’m not disconnected. But I don’t exactly arrive at my scheduled destination.

“Thank you for calling tier three technical support. This is Paula. How can I help you?”

“I—I was hoping to speak with a manager regarding a five week-long Internet problem that needs to be resolved. Five weeks, Paula…”

“Oh, dearie. I’m very sorry, ma’am. I understand that this must be causing you a great deal of frustration. I appreciate your patience as we seek to find a resolution to your issue.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the tier three level of technical support, the voices always greet you with a “put down the knife, sir” tone. I try to empathize with Paula’s position, as I’m sure she spends a great deal of time listening to customers threaten to hand-strangle her house pets.

“Okie dokie! Let me give this a crack. Ma’am, why don’t we start here: Can you tell me if the Ethernet cord is plugged in securely?”

I can’t do this.

“Listen, Paula, you sound very sweet, so please don’t take this the wrong way… but right now you’re expendable to me.”

“Ma’am?”

“I need to hear an authoritative voice. A voice that can ensure a technical supervisor comes to my house tomorrow and fixes my Internet permanently.”

Paula hesitates a moment, then says, “Please hold.”

Being placed on hold at Time Warner Cable is like playing Russian roulette. Please don’t disconnect me. I start sweating preemptively as I wait to hear the next voice.

Someone finally answers and I squeal with relief.

“Oh, thank god!” I launch into a monologue summarizing my five-week quest for Internet access. “And breaking into your parents’ house in the middle of the night to respond to a work email is no way to live,” I conclude.

“Five weeks, huh? That’s unfortunate.”

“But you have the power,” I plead. “You can escalate a resolution and do right by a loyal ten-year customer. A customer that’s always paid her bills on time and kept her malicious thoughts to herself when you unceremoniously removed the Travel Channel and Animal Planet from my standard cable package. FYI: I still don’t know what happened to the meerkat that was bitten by the cobra at the end of season one of Meerkat Manor. He was a scrapper and I like to think he survived, but now I’ll never… look, given the duration of this issue, will you be sending someone out tomorrow?”

Based on the length of her pause I already know her answer isn’t going to start with a y.

WEEK SIX

TECHNICIAN SEVEN

It’s been two hours since the last technician left.

He was not a supervisor.

He spent forty minutes rewiring cords throughout my apartment. As I watched him fill my walls with staples, I asked, “You really think this will fix my connection issues?” He shrugged.

Now I’m staring at a “cannot connect to server” screen and thinking that it’s a good thing the sharpest object lying near my computer is a Sharpie marker.

I unplug the Ethernet cord, then plug it back in. Unplug, plug, unplug, plug. I’m a dead ringer for Glenn Close in that Fatal Attraction scene where she idly pulls a lamp string on and off, on and off, her expression hinting that small animals are no longer safe in her presence. I recognize that a six-week-long Internet problem probably isn’t going to be resolved by me yanking out and then plugging in a single cord and that I’m just postponing the inevitable.

I grab a bottle of ibuprofen I’ve recently relabeled “Time Warner Cable pills.” I pop a handful into my mouth like Skittles. I can already hear the taunting, fuzzy Kenny G music in my head. I pop a few more.

freeimage-7936722-web CALL TWENTY ONE

“Hiyee! Thanks for calling Time Warner Cable. This is—”

“The person that’s going to end my suffering.”

“Aw, poor thing! I understand you’ve been having some issues with your Internet connection?”

“Only on days that end in y.”

There’s a tee-hee on her end and then: “Don’t you worry, Miss Burbank. My name is Megan and I promise to take super good care of you. I’ve got a pocketful of technology pixie dust and I’m going to sprinkle your computer good!”

“You’re sweet and perky because you have Google and email. I was once like you, Megan.”

“First thing’s first: Did you try rebooting your computer?”

“Yeah. Several times.”

“And that didn’t work?”

“It did. I’m actually just called you because I’m lonely.”

“And all the cords are plugged in securely?”

“Yeah. I had plenty of time to verify that and then some while you guys had me listen to an entire Kenny G biopic.”

“I’m just going to send a little signal from my end to check your connection. While we’re waiting on that, I’d like to take a moment to tell you about an exciting new offer.”

“You’ve got to be kidding m—”

“Miss Burbank—”

“Burback.”

“Did you know that for only thirty three cents a day you can upgrade your Internet service with us and get lightning fast speed?”

“Are you seriously trying to upsell me right now?”

“It’s a super deal. And if you act now—”

“Holy jesus. So you guys just threw me in the ocean but now you’re offering me a life raft for a low introductory rate?”

“Miss Burbank—”

“Burback. You know… like it’s spelled?”

“It really is a fantastic deal. And thirty three extra cents a day is, like, a stick of gum!”

“Megan?”

“Uh huh?”

“Can you put the Kenny G music back on?”

Because to Megan “no, thank you” means “verbally waterboard me until I reach for my credit card,” I have to listen to several more “super offers” before I finally grit my teeth and say, “Megan, I would greatly appreciate it if we could get back to my Internet problem.”

“But Miss Burbank, er—Burback, these are limited time offers and you’d be a fool not to—”

“I-N-T-E-R-N-E-T! For the love of God, just help me with my damn Internet connection you aggressive chipmunk from hell!”

There’s a moment of awkward silence.

“Okay,” she mumbles.

Over the next five minutes I hear a lot of clickety click on her end, and after a while I feel compelled to fill the silence.

“So, uh, Megan…what did you really want to be when you grew up?”

Ten minutes later Megan’s chirpy voice announces that my Internet is indeed not working. “Says you’re offline,” she confirms. “Hmm. I’m not really sure why it’s… I don’t know if I should… I’m going to transfer you to another department.”

“Wait!” I nearly drop the phone in panic. “Please don’t do that! Last time someone said they were going to do that they disconnected me! Then I had to call back and I was on hold for twenty—”

“It’ll be fine, Miss Burbank. I promise.”

“Wait! I—”

“I’m transferring you now.”

“Megan? Megan?! Don’t you disconnect me or I’ll come for you in the night!”

I’m promptly disconnected.

WEEK SEVEN

The leasing agent sweeps through the empty apartment like a cheery gust of wind. I trot behind her, nodding as she throws out words like “granite countertops” and “central air.”

“And the carpet’s brand new. A really luxurious silky material. If you press your cheek against it feels like you’re being seduced by a ferret.”

“Uh huh.”

I take in the apartment’s Lilliputian dimensions.

“It’s a tad on the small side,” I say. I stare at the narrow sliver of a living room. I’m pretty sure that when I want to watch Family Guy I’ll have to put the TV on my lap.”

“It’s not small—it’s cozy!” the leasing agent says. “And it’s a great deal for this area. You won’t find another apartment complex in this zip code at this price.”

I silently debate the pros and cons of this potential new abode.

I stare at a small outlet through which Internet would flow.

“My current complex only allows TV and Internet through one provider,” I say. “Which provider does your complex use?”

As she opens her mouth I lean in very, very close.

“You can choose whatever provider you want here. I personally use AT&T. Love them. But you can also choose—”

I cut her off so loudly and quickly that she makes an audible “eep.”

“I’ll take it.”

She blinks at me a moment, then smiles. “Let’s head back to the office, shall we? We can draw up the paperwork and—”

I pull her into an overly tight hug.

“I… oh, my…”

“Ssh,” I whisper, burying my face in her shoulder. “I need to feel the full magnitude of this moment. Let’s stay like this—just like this—for just a little while longer…”

I breathe a hard-won sigh of relief knowing that the terror, the nightmares, the Kenny G music can’t hurt me anymore. I close my eyes and deepen the hug as a forty-something leasing agent quietly debates whether to call the cops.

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Thanks to the new Bang with Friends app, Facebook “pokes” just got literal.

800808_my_best_friend

“I’m so sick of this platonic Farmville crap. Time to make my move…”

Looking to bop genitals with a Facebook friend but worried a bold carnal proposal might negatively affect your Farmville relationship? If only there were a way to find out if that platonic Facebook cutie would be interested in being your one-hour girlfriend. Oh, wait—there’s an app for that.

Horny Facebook users that want to “poke” their Facebook friends offline can now voice their hidden desires without fear of rejection. The Bang with Friends app bills itself as “the anonymous, simple, fun way to find friends who are down for the night.” How Bang with Friends works: After downloading the app, users sign in with Facebook and peruse their buddy list, then select those Facebook friends they’d like to see sport a French maid outfit/ do jumping jacks naked/ hold their own ankles. After you’ve selected the Facebook friends you’d like to see 100% more naked you simply sit back and play the waiting game. The friends you’ve selected will never know you want to frig them unless they’ve also got the app—and you just happen to be on their own personal bang list.

According to Bang with Friends CEO Colin Hodge, the program currently has over 1 million users who log in about 70,000 times a day. Although a Bang with Friends iPhone app was recently released, within weeks Apple booted the app from its store. An update on the Bang with Friends website says the company is currently working with Apple to get back into the app store. Changing their logo from a male silhouette jackhammering his new mattress buddy to the less direct “BWF” initials doesn’t appear to have won any points with Apple, but Hodge isn’t giving up. In the meantime, there’s still a Bang with Friends Android app and a computer app for those that want to test the waters and see if their buddy lust is a two-way street.

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You can’t beat Walmart’s low low prices… on reach arounds?

2211

This USED to be the weirdest thing you’d see at Walmart.

The answer to the question “What can’t you buy at Walmart?” just got a little broader. Foster Bills, a 22-year-old Walmart employee in upstate New York is being charged with selling sex in the store’s bathroom. Bills apparently solicited johns on the “casual encounters” section on Craigslist, then later whisked his customers into the Walmart bathroom, where it is presumed that the mango papaya Renuzit and the sounds of fellow bathroomgoers coping with the after-effects of downing three Big Macs at the in-store McDonald’s only heightened the erotic ambiance. After store management received an anonymous complaint that some of their customers were entering the men’s bathroom with an above average amount of enthusiasm, police launched an undercover investigation. Cops set up a sting, and when Bills accepted cash for sex from an undercover officer, he was arrested before he got a chance to put Walmart’s one-stop-shopping philosophy into action.

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How to be a dick at a movie theater

ImageIs it just me or are people starting to treat watching the movie they just paid twelve bucks for as optional? Aka: “If we run out of potty training stories, we’ll check back in to see what’s going on with Reese Witherspoon.” The movie screen is not the piano guy near the escalator at Nordstrom.  It’s the main event, people! Below is a Cliffs Notes guide on how to ensure your fellow movie enthusiasts will eventually try to pop your head with their mind like that guy in Scanners

1. Determine that ice isn’t just a beverage enhancement—it’s also a food group. After you’ve slurped up the last droplet of soda, pop open the drink’s lid and crunch on those ice cubes like they killed your grandma. The girl in front of you may occasionally swivel her head to give you a WTF? Are you chewing rocks?!!  look, but ignore her. She’s wearing a scrunchie, for  chrissakes!

2. Every time a character says something funny don’t just laugh—clap your hands like a seal begging for grouper. This will distinguish you from all those conformists who want to hear the character’s next line.

3. Realize that since you’ve already seen the movie, it would probably be super awesome of you to guide your newbie friend through each scene. As characters are introduced, say things like “don’t get too attached to her” and “pay attention to him because I would have never guessed he’s the murderer.”

4. Screw the babysitter—that bitch wants five bucks an hour plus free soda! Bring your toddler to the Judd Apatow/Quentin Tarantino/David Cronenberg movie. When your confused child starts asking questions like, “That’s fruit punch coming out of his head…right, daddy?” and “Why do they need to take their clothes off to wrestle?”, glare at your child with annoyance. When the kid struggles to follow the plot and becomes an ADD volcano, allow him to roam the theater like a feral meerkat, asking strangers if they’re going to finish their Red Vines and exploring the contents of people’s purses.

5. Do not simply eat your popcorn. Plunge your arm into the bucket and violently rustle your hand as if you might find that magical chocolate piece if you dig long enough.

6. Decide that because you’re old, you’ve got a free pass to play Mystery Science Theater throughout any film. During The Dark Knight Rises, repeatedly ask your confused gnome of a seatmate if Batman has emphysema. Then regale your seatmate with tales of your own health woes ranging from ingrown toenails to bloody stool. When the people around you immediately stop eating their popcorn, yank a bucket of popcorn out of a nearby tween’s hand and proclaim this generation wasteful. Enjoy your new popcorn windfall. Oh, that reminds you of the time you met Orville Redenbacher at a speakeasy! Tell this story slowly and loudly. When other audience members start to say things like “Baby Jesus, please make it stop” and “Shut the fuck up,” ignore them. You lived through two wars and polio, dammit! If these young whippersnappers want to find out if Batman’s girlfriend lived they can rent the DVD.

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Purse Dogs: The Great Reality Definer

purse-dogFrom across the room I watched the woman’s eyes go wide with shock as she stared at the restaurant manager. “I don’t understand,” she said. “Why won’t you let Mitzi inside? Omigod, are you prejudiced or something? You have to let her in!”

Before you shout discrimination, I should probably point out that Mitzi isn’t the typical eating companion. In fact, Mitzi’s snarling head just happened to be poking out of the woman’s purse.

Yap, yap, yap! said the tiny Pomeranian.

“But she goes with me everywhere!” the woman pleaded.

Yap, yap, yap!

“She’s a super sweet dog.”

Yap, yap, yap!

“And really well-behaved.”

Yap! Snarl! Yap!

The manager was clearly uncomfortable, but seemed to fear that he might have a blonde tornado on his hands if he suggested that dogs are for living rooms and not Olive Gardens.

The woman’s stance, her manicured hands firmly on her low-rise jean-wearing hips, was poised for battle. Her lips did that dramatic trembly thing that, on a woman like her, usually means her boyfriend refused to buy Demi Lovato concert tickets or that one of the Kardashian shows just got cancelled.

The manager took in the emotional turmoil that most of us reserve for learning a loved one is dead and his head slumped in defeat.

“Fine, lady. Just keep the dog quiet and discreet. Alright?”

The woman squealed and blew him an air kiss. Then he sat her in the table next to me. As soon as the manager walked away Mitzi popped out of the purse like a Popple from hell. Her barks dissipated into whiny noises as she pranced around the table. Mitzi’s owner laughed at her pet’s adorability and grabbed the pint-sized creature, placing her on a nearby chair. Mitzi was not happy with this confinement and made her displeasure known by switching her whining back to shrieking.

I was eating dinner with my family, so my attention drifted between the indignant Pomeranian and a conversation about college football. But every so often I would glance at the table next to us and observe the following: Mitzi throwing a rebellion by leaping on the table and running around like a chicken with its head cut off, Mitzi attempting to dismember a passing child that made the fatal mistake of trying to pet her, and Mitzi being handfed by her owner. Because it was an Italian restaurant, you should attempt to imagine the delightful imagery of a dog choking down noodles and wads of dripping meat  for full effect. And if you think your dog’s typical Alpo gas is bad, try having a front row seat to spicy sausage night in a Pomeranian’s colon.

Despite what many obsessed dog owners seem to insist, dogs are not children. Preventing a Chihuahua from taking a steamer on a rug is not the same as keeping a 15-year-old from impregnating his schoolmate. And although carrying your toy poodle around in your Kate Spade bag may be great fun for you (and I’m guessing it’s only fun for one of you), there needs to be a limit when it comes to sharing Puppykins with the world. Dogs are affectionate, fun, and often intelligent. But they are not people. Dressing them in their Sunday best and taking them inside movie theaters, malls, and restaurants means that you’ve cartwheeled off Reality Road and straight into Crazytown.

My friend once said that he was tempted to get a purse just so that he could carry an adorable puppy with him everywhere: movie theaters, malls, restaurants, the bathhouse behind the 7-eleven.  His boyfriend, a blessedly sane individual, quickly interjected and said, “Before we do that, why don’t I wheel you around in a suitcase all day? You can pop your head out and sample your future pet’s life.” He didn’t get a purse dog.

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Fifty Shades of Grey: The Quiz! Advanced apology: It’s two minutes of your life you can never get back.

Fifty Shades of Grey is the erotic literary sensation that threw convention and grammar to the wind and reminded sexually adventurous readers that jumper cables are multi-purpose. And after reading what will surely be hailed by future generations as the War and Peace of S&M literature, you’ve probably got just one thought on your mind: Which Fifty Shades of Grey character would I be? Take this frivolous quiz and find out!

1.  How often do you say ‘oh, my?’

A.  A few times a month, like when I came home early from work to find my butler wearing a negligee and dancing to “I’m Every Woman.”

B. Every time I spill my latte, view an exceptionally girthy phallus, watch an episode of Jersey Shore, spot a pair of Jimmy Choos for fifty percent off, breathe, or see something really shiny.

C. Only when I see something truly breathtaking, like an aura borealis or a picture of a squirrel riding a cat.

D. “Oh, my?” What am I, some Victorian-era featherbrain stumbling to my fainting couch?

2.  How do you refer to your psyche?

A. As fifty shades of f—-d up. Tragically metaphoric, no?

B. As my inner goddess, but after waking up next to an empty ale jug and an empty onesie, I’m starting to wonder if it’s that one ancient European goddess that gets drunk and eats babies.

C. I call her Tiff.

D. I don’t have a psyche. There are only two real half-baked characters in this whole freaking story, remember?

3.  When it comes to impressions, how memorable are you?

A. I take a private helicopter to the 7-eleven when I’m out of milk, so yeah, I turn a few heads.

B. I leave a pretty strong impression because I never. Shut. The. Hell. Up.

C. Not very. I only appear every couple of chapters, seemingly just to giggle.

D. Everything I say is fairly generic, but I’m the only ethnic character in the whole goddamn book so that should count for something.

4.  What’s your daily attire of choice?

A. My goal is to bash the clearly retarded reader over the head with metaphor, so I wear a gray suit with a gray tie, which is nicely offset by the gray interiors constantly surrounding me. Oh, yeah—and my last name is Grey.

B. My modest outfits fall just short of those Little House on the Prairie dresses you see women wearing on the news whenever the cops do one of those big-time polygamy compound raids.

C. I’ve been known to sport fallopian-length minidresses.

D. F–k if I know. Try combing that 500-page Iliad of a Penthouse letter for any discerning details regarding my appearance.

5.  How did you lose your virginity?

A. To a domineering MILF I talk about in a secretive, ominous tone just to piss off my current girlfriend.

B. To a billionaire fetishist. And I came, like, forty times! Go figure!

C. To the Washington Huskies.

D. The hell if I know. I mostly just wander in and out of the book like a human topiary. I’m not even sure I have genitalia.

Mostly As

Congrats! You’re literary beefcake Christian Grey. Designed by a committee of hair-twirling tweens, you’re a twenty-seven-year-old billionaire with abs like Jesus and a penchant for buying women simple tokens of affection like cars. Oh—and as soon as you’re done whacking your girlfriend with that riding crop, you plan to single-handedly cure world hunger. Alas, you’re also a very sad panda, which is subtly demonstrated by your melancholy late-night piano ballads. But despite all your inner demons, you’ve also got a playful side, as shown by the way your lips “quirk up” at least once per page.

Mostly Bs

Hey there, Anastasia! You’re our novel’s narrator and heroine, a modern Elizabeth Bennet reimagined as a whiny codependent. Sure, some people might find it annoying that you “flush” and “blush” and “oh my” every other nanosecond, but you’ve got plenty of intriguing qualities, too. For instance: You managed to turn what would otherwise be an 80-page book into a 500-page behemoth based solely on your ability to ruminate over your relationship. The good news: All Christian Grey has to do is blow on you and you burst into multiple orgasms.

Mostly Cs

You’re Kate, the vivacious (aka slutty) roommate. And sure, Anastasia might be boinking a dashing billionaire, but when it comes to looks, she’s clearly the Skipper to your Barbie. But don’t get too smug—at the end of the day she’s not the one afraid to get a Chlamydia test.

Mostly Ds

Our condolences. You’re José, a forgettable buddy character with the personality of a fichus. Your only apparent purpose in the novel is to pop in between Anastasia’s multiple orgasms.

Liked this quiz? Buy A Coupla Shades of Taupe for a further dose of Fifty Shades mockery. I’m not saying that if you don’t click this link to buy my book that you’re a bad person, but…

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Top 10 Tweets That Should be Untwit

I recently joined Twitter after being told it would change my life. And it has. Thanks to this time vampire, I’ve now seen daylong tweets on the progress of an ongoing battle with a hangnail. Updates on the texture of things coming out of your baby, tweets professing your love for Cinnabon coffee creamer—I can’t unread these things. With that in mind, here’s an aggressively playful list of theoretical tweets I think the Twitter universe can do without. And please feel free to add any traumatizing/TMI tweets you’ve received to this list. Sharing is healing!

Top 10 Tweets That Should be Untwit:

 Omigod! Just talked to my aunt. Found out that Jersey Shore won’t be back for another season. Oh yeah, and my uncle died. #SaveSnooki

I just saw a rainbow and it made me sad. What’s up with that?! #DeepThoughts

Just had a latte. Too foamy, I think. People underestimate how much the foam to liquid ratio affects the latte experience. You know what? The latte was fine, come to think of it. I think what I really wanted was a cappuccino. #ALatteLater

Tweeting from the gyno’s chair! Can’t they freakin’ microwave these speculums first?! #HelloCervix

Is it just me or without the mustache is Hitler actually kinda dreamy? #MenWithAccents

My #@&*?!! boyfriend tried to break up with me cause he said I was getting ‘too intense’ and ‘scaring the hell out of him.’ Totally unrelated question: Does anybody know a one-stop shop where I can get bleach, a shovel, and a bag of salt? #RelationshipFixed

Just had an insane BM. A five-flusher!!! See pics on Facebook. #NoMoreChipotle

My cat started licking my face and I decided to see how long he’d keep it up. Going on hour five! #RashIsWorthIt

If god had wanted me to go to work today he wouldn’t have put a Toddlers & Tiaras marathon on TLC. #WhereMySweatpantsAt

Do the rules for statutory rape apply if it’s your cousin? #BestFamilyReunionEver

*This list originally appeared on imabookshark.com. Check out Mickey’s site and show her some literary love.

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