Screecher's 411 problems with Verizon

Bad information about Brooklyn sets Carmine off

for The Brooklyn Paper
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I’m madder than a Census taker who can only count to 10 so he has to keep going back, ringing bells, and start all over again (thus never getting his job done), over the fact that whenever I try to get my 411 operator to get me a phone number in Brooklyn, he doesn’t know where it is, so it takes me roughly 10 hours to get the digits of the meat market around the corner to place my daily order.

Look, you all know that ol’Carmine is old-school when it comes to getting food to the house, because he likes to do it in a tried-and-true way that has stood the test of time — calling the corner market and having some kid deliver it right to his front door.

But you also know that the Screecher doesn’t remember phone numbers like he used to, so, on occasion (or about five times a day) he dials up information on that phone in the kitchen, for which he pays extra for all the bells and whistles — specifically, free 411.

So you’ll be shocked — shocked — to learn that Beantown-based Verizon, for all the great things it may or may not have done for this country, apparently doesn’t know where Brooklyn is.

How do I know? Because the simple reality is no one calls information more than yours truly, ’cause I tend to get hungry and like to order up a sandwich every now and again (and again and again). In fact, whenever I pick up the phone and dial up 411, the computer on the other end says “Ok, Carmine, where can I connect you?”

But the second I say “Big Mike’s Meat Market” on 83rd and 17th, the computer looks at me like I got 10 heads.

That’s because the nitwits at Verizon can’t seem to find New York City’s most-populus borough on a map.

In fact, it doesn’t seem to know where any of our 2.5 million residents are.

The worst-case scenario of all this was on Easter Sunday, when my lovely wife Sharon and I were invited to so many dinners, we were forced to eat at a restaurant so as not to offend any of our proposed suitors. Of course, we had two choices — we could go to the Olive Garden on Erskine Street, or, my personal favorite (and this week’s shameless plug) the Parkview Diner on Cropsey Avenue just over the bridge in Coney Island. But we still needed to call to make sure we could get a seat.

And of course, I forgot the numbers and, to make matters worse, my stomach was barking louder than a junkyard dog.

So you can imagine how high my blood pressure got when I was once again told that the information could not be found. I ended up being transferred to a human operator just so they could find the number, which would usually be fine, but which, in this case, is just an unnecessary step, because every time I try to find a number in Queens, Manhattan, or even Staten Island, I never have to talk to anyone.

Worst of all, by the time I got the number to that Olive Garden, I had lost my appetite! And that’s saying something!

In fact, they made me dial that out-of-state information number ( (800) 555-1212) to figure everything out, and that is downright ridiculous.

So I did what any red-blooded Brooklynite would do in such a situation.

First, I yelled and screamed at my wife, telling her how terrible this situation was. Then, I sat down at my Smith Corona and immediately started writing a letter to the head of Verizon, to let him (or her) know exactly where Brooklyn is. I enclosed a map, and even a link to the WackoPedia website, that has a whole lot of information on my beloved hometown.

Next, I sent a letter to our even more beloved Borough President Markowitz, who I am sure will move swiftly to solve this problem.

And I guarantee you that we will get to the bottom of this.

Screech at you next week, when I update you on this breaking story, and let you know about problems I have with opening up a bottle of Bayer aspirin!

Carmine Santa Maria's column appears every Sunday on despite comments like the ones that will surely appear below. It's a free country. E-mail him at

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