Need some inspiration in this tough economy? Here’s the story of a Forest Park businessman’s titanic battle with the phone company. He doesn’t want his name used for fear of not being allowed to run a bar tab.

It all started when his accounts payable failed to pay a phone bill for $76.63. The phone company silenced his dial tone. The man immediately paid a check by phone to restore service. The phone company asked for an additional $40.24 – no problem, the man paid it.

The next day, a client called and told the man his number was still disconnected. The man called the phone company and they demanded a deposit of $150 to restore service. This was high-wire robbery, the man thought. He needed the $150 way more than the phone company.

He wasted a good hour arguing with the phone company, barely able to internalize the swear words. At the end, he shouted that he was reporting the phone company to the Illinois Commerce Commission.

He called the commission and reached the reassuring voice of Omaira Figueroa. She was very sympathetic, but cited a section of Illinois law that states the phone company can do whatever it wants. Nevertheless, she filed an urgent complaint against the phone company.

The next day, Omaira called and said the phone company was sticking to its guns, so she would escalate by filing a formal complaint. On Day Two of Disconnection, Omaira reported that the phone company still wouldn’t budge. They required the deposit for what they termed “new” phone service.

The man couldn’t believe his sore right ear. “New service!” He’d been in business since 1963. He called the phone company’s executive offices and spoke with Shirley Anderson. Shirley’s slogan was “no deposit – no service” and she switched the man to the collections department to ante up.

At the edge of despair, the man found himself connected to the warm and compassionate tones of Linda King. She inquired about other accounts the man had with the phone company and he provided his home telephone number. When Ms. King came back on the line, she declared that our man was among their most treasured customers – decades of phone service without a late payment. Ms. King would try to get the deposit waived.

On Day Three of Disconnection, Ms. King called and said they were waiving the deposit and turning the phone back on. She gave him her direct number, should he ever need her help in the future. So, Ms. King, I’d like to personally wish you a Happy Thanksgiving for helping out … that guy in Forest Park.

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.