Recently, something got me so mad that I felt “I could just spit!” Incidentally, if you’ve ever wondered about the origin of that phrase, here’s what I learned about what it means:
- An individual is angry enough to do physical harm to another person, but rather than do that, he or she wants to do the next worse thing, which is to spit on the other party.
- A person is so dry that his or her mouth feels as if it is full of feathers, and they are angry enough to spit them out of their mouth.
In my case, what prompted me to feel the way I did was the frustration I felt after a set-to with OnStar®, the much-heralded safety communications service offered with all new General Motors automobiles. Here’s the deal:
When my wife and I purchased our new Chevrolet Equinox in 2010, it came with a “free, introductory subscription” to OnStar®. Becky was elated. If you’re not familiar with this service, basically it is a hands-free communication system that is automatically activated in case of an accident. A sensor immediately puts you in touch with the OnStar® headquarters, and depending upon the nature and severity of the accident, a call is put through to either the police and/or emergency services. Or, if you lock your keys in the car, get a flat, or experience any other unforeseen difficulty with your automobile, you can just call OnStar®, and someone out there in OnStar® Land will make everything all right. In addition, you receive a certain number of “pre-paid” OnStar® minutes that can be used at any time to make hands-free calls to whomever you wish, for whatever reason you see fit. In theory, the service sounds fantastic. In practice, it’s as worthless as buying a twenty-year term life insurance policy on a two-year old. That’s because the odds of ever needing OnStar® are about the same as those of a two-year old dying in the twenty years of the life insurance term.
To be fair, having OnStar® provided my wife with a sense of protection, and for $19.95 a month, I figured it was worth it just for the peace of mind. Unfortunately, pre-paid minutes are not really “pre-paid” at all; they are more like “pre-rented.” If they are not used within the one year of the annual contract, they expire—much like the coverage of that worthless life insurance policy. Each year, when the contract runs out, so do the minutes. Then, you are forced to negotiate a new contract, and beg for OnStar® to roll over the unused minutes that you’ve already paid for. So, for the three-and-a-half years we owned that car, I played the game.
Well, we liked our 2010 Equinox so much that we traded it in for a new, 2013 leftover. Of course, we kept the OnStar® subscription in place, once the new free period had expired. I also continued playing the “minutes game.” But the game was about to be taken to a whole new level—and that’s where the spitting component of this story begins.
The other evening, while returning home from grocery shopping, I decided to call Becky to ask her to make some popcorn for the movie we intended to watch later. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my cell phone with me. Ah, I thought, no problemo, I’ll just use the old OnStar® hands-free phone to place the call. Surely I must have at least some of my 150 “pre-paid” minutes left.
So I tapped the little “call” icon at the edge of the rear view mirror and spoke my command into the ethos. “Call home!” I said. I waited for the phone to start ringing, but instead, I heard a robotic, female voice reply, “This is OnStar®. You do not have enough minutes to place this hands-free call. Please stay on the line, and a representative will be happy to speak with you” (or words to that effect). I couldn’t imagine that I was out of minutes (we hardly ever used the damned service), so there could only have been one other possibility—we’d rolled over into a new contract year, and we’d lost our minutes. Bingo! A real live person out there in “OnStar® Land” confirmed my worst fear—my “pre-paid” minutes had, indeed, expired.
“Okay,” I said, “first of all, let me say that this is not personal, and I’m not angry with you—but I am really fed up with this crap! In fact, I want to cancel my OnStar® subscription immediately!” The woman was very polite, and asked me for all my OnStar personal information, so that she could see what she “could do about the situation.” A few minutes later, she came back on the line. “Mr. Perr-OWN,” she said, “I see you have already had some minutes rolled over as a ‘courtesy’ in the past,” she began, “and since we have . . . ” And that’s when I lost it. I wanted to spit.
“Yes, I know I have,” I barked, “but you see, I PAID for those minutes. I did not RENT them (I was really spitting now), so if you don’t mind, I would like to cancel my OnStar® subscription right now!” (I think she may have spitting by then, too, because there was a lot of mumbling and stumbling before she came back on the line. “Mr. Perr-OWN,” she said, “I’ll have to connect you with our cancellation department.” Great! Let me at ’em! I can finally get rid of this damned OnStar. (Fat chance!)
“Mr. Perr-OWN?” said a new voice—only it was a masculine voice, a serious voice, a we-mean-business kind of voice. “I’m going to need your address—and your special PIN number before we can cancel your policy.” (I spat out the requested information in less than the blink of an eye.) “Uh oh,” said the kick-ass voice, “I see that the car is actually registered in your wife’s name. May I speak with MRS. Perr-OWN?” Well, that did it.
“She’s not in the car with me!” I spat into the air. “But, I can see exactly where this is going. I’ll have Mrs. Perr-Oh-nee call you first thing in the morning to cancel our OnStar® subscription! Good night!” And I hung up the phone—well, not exactly. I tapped the stupid little icon on the rearview mirror (which wasn’t nearly as satisfying as slamming down a receiver) and . . . man, oh, man, was I ever spitting mad.
Whether or not we actually have canceled OnStar® will be my little secret, but at least I feel great about one thing: the “I PAID for those minutes. I did not RENT them!” thing. You can’t imagine how satisfying that felt. After all, I was angry enough to just spit . . .
So what ticks you off? What makes you so angry that you could spit? We’d like to know. Use the comment box below to tell us about your special pet peeve, and how it affected you.
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