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I'll Tell You What's Obscene

From this morning's New York Times:

The Federal Communications Commission leveled a record $3.6 million fine yesterday against 111 television stations that broadcast an episode of "Without a Trace" in December 2004, with the agency saying the CBS show suggested that its teenage characters were participating in a sexual orgy.

The program was among nine cited yesterday for fines totaling about $4 million on agency accusations of violating decency standards between February 2002 and March 2005. The fines are the first indecency actions by the commission since Kevin J. Martin, a Republican, became chairman last March.

My father passed away unexpectedly in November. There was no will and no estate to speak of. Because I have what among my family members passes for a penchant for organization, my siblings and I decided that I should be the one who deals with closing out the financial and worldly details of my father's life.

I notified the credit card company right away. They informed me I couldn't deal with this over the weekend but would have to call back on Monday. On Monday, I called again and they told me I would be receiving a letter from their Estates Department.

Said letter never received, I need hardly say.

Instead, what I have received in his name is an avalanche of special promotions, cash advance checks, and just yesterday an offer to protect -- for a fee -- my father's identity from being stolen.

And this is just the credit card company, of course. Throw in the phone company, the long-distance provider, the internet accounts, and so forth and so on.

People? The man is dead, okay??? I told you that. I even sent you the fucking Death Certificate you demanded. I refaxed the documents three times because your machine was fucked up. (How about you put paper in it the next time you are going to demand stuff from me, okay?) Oh, and do you need me to send along a pinch of my father's ashes?

To be fair, there have been some outfits that have been quite good about this -- their employees have been quite sympathetic (or, you know, they have said the right things at the right times which is really the most you can ask for... it's not like they are family or friends or anything) and their methods for wrapping up the details that come with having a Suddenly Dead Customer have been quite jaunty and adept.

But all of that, of course, only goes to show that it's perfectly possible for large organizations to deal with this sort of thing competently and with some degree of sensitivity. Actually, I'm not even going to say "sensitivity" here. Really it's just, you know, having the brains to build some routines into your way of doing business that actually take into account the reality of what it means to do business with human beings.

We are born, we live for a while, we establish accounts and credit histories, and then we die. How hard is that? Isn't there sufficient evidence on hand -- like, I dunno, six billion instances of the above -- to merit building all of this into your way of doing business?

I've had it with these indecent and utterly obscene assholes. I'm fed up with these "teenage characters" "participating in a sexual orgy" of stupidity and incompetence.

And, of course, I'm not going to mention any companies by name because they are allowed to sue and harass me for telling the truth about them in public should they decide it's necessary to teach me some well-deserved lessons.

BUT... thank God I won't have to accidentally catch another glimpse of Janet Jackson's nipple. Or hear cuss-words in a PBS documentary about the blues.

It's an obscene world out there, kids. Just don't tell the truth about it and all our days will be sunshiny and bright.


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