Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Bill Gates

Street Seens: Dodging a Bullet- A Saga of Knights and a Lady in Wireless Armor


It all started near Grand Central when I dodged a bullet because of a turf war between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs designed by an Archangel. That left me stranded 750-plus miles from our 10065 urban village, with only a geriatric piece of equipment as my electronic lifeline. I knew I was in trouble.  But along came Good St. Nicholas and a rescue that left me celebrating the fact that 24-carat Customer Service is alive and well in an area code far, far away.

Now, before even the kindliest followers of Woman Around Town and Street Seens begin to wonder if the aforementioned challenges have left me quite unhinged, let me invoke the old truism, “You can’t make this stuff up.” I didn’t. There’s an explanation for these unlikely scenarios.  And if you come along I’d love to tell you about each and all. And I promise that in the course of the stories you’ll meet some great people and have renewed hope in America’s service industries and retailers.  No kidding!

Let’s start with dodging the bullet and Grand Central.  The first was a metaphor; the second an iconic New York site.  On my return to the terminal after Metro North returned me there from a long day on the banks of the Hudson, I fell victim to the frequent fallacy that I had time to tick off one more task on my “Urgent To Do” list. So, I went to the Verizon Wireless store en route to the Third Avenue Uptown bus stop to choose the replacement for the Android phone dating back some three and one half years.

I browsed the various options and concluded that one was “just right.” It had the stylus I had come to like; not so many features as to make me feel like a deer in headlights.  In all externals, it seemed the winning choice.  That’s when the reality of the clock and of the brewing turf war brought me back to reality.  Over years in which he and his team have guided me (sometimes kicking and screaming) from PCs to the recent and current MAC, a brilliant network engineer has earned my designation as Michael the Archangel, a patron known as warrior and message deliverer supreme.  Somehow he and his staff have created a system that allowed me and my colleagues to have the best of both worlds, perhaps even three.   Contacts were kept, files were portable, for better or worse we didn’t need to miss a phone call or a text.

But don’t ask me how that was able to happen so seamlessly.  And don’t take it that the Messrs. Jobs and Gates always approved. Remembering that, I had to say to the helpful Grand Central Verizon Wireless associate, “I’m so sorry but I will have to put off closing our deal until Michael the Archangel engineers the transition.” AND THAT IS HOW I MISSED PURCHASING THE SAMSUNG NOTE 7! (How do you spell Whew?) just before it began exploding (literally!) in the media and aboard trains, planes and clothing pockets. While I was breathing a sigh of relief, the original connector cord wore through and I acquired an emergency stand-in from my local CVS.

Fast forward to a 5-day trip to Illinois that has so far lasted for some 35.  Very near Christmas Eve, the cell phone and connector of this story decided to divorce for irreconcilable differences.  Enter Good Saint Nick.  As manager of the Verizon Wireless Store across from the Macy’s at the Louis Joliet Mall, he stepped in to be my Knight in Wireless Armor.  Sight unseen, he took my phone call and came to the rescue.  Only after the fact did I learn that he was “the boss.” He personally conducted the search for a hard-to-find double connector; called a nearby sister store that had the replacement and told them to save the unit for me to pick up that very day.

Forgive me for being astonished! When I asked his name and found it was Nick, I thought immediately of the Good Saint Nicholas of Dutch legend who personifies the giver of gifts at the Christmas season. Truth to tell, Nick Vlachos was not the first and is not the only amazing Verizon Wireless miracle worker I have encountered.  There was the young woman who insisted on staying with me on a landline until she “found” the missing and muted phone I had packed into an under-bed box of stored winter clothing.  And the Long Island executive who said, “take my cell phone number in case you have a problem.”

I opted out of the FIOS option because of the yards of plaster that would have had to be drilled through.  But let’s raise a toast to the likes of Good St. Nick of Joliet, Illinois who restores our faith as he preserves the life of antiquated cell phones.  And of course inspires us to eradicate all memories of the phrase “Beware of Greeks who come bearing gifts.” Perhaps he should sign on to find the safe solution for Samsung’s burning issue of the Note 7.