How To Snub The Automated Operator

Last Saturday, I thought I found an error on my cell phone bill. I say "I thought" because the bill was printed in Spanish.

After a frustrating debate with an automated operator, I finally got through to a real person. He agreed to reprint my bill. And he begrudgingly waived the $5 fee. What service!

This Saturday, the new bill arrived. Todavían en español. But when I called customer service, the automated operator put up a fight. "I'm trained to answer many questions," she bragged. "You can say 'pay my bill' or 'tell me my balance.'" This particular operator was not trained to respond to unintelligible groaning.

Eventually, I learned getting a new bill in my native language would be impossible. You win some, you lose most.

At least now there's a way to avoid this automated self-importance. Find out the secret codes to reach a real person with the gethuman database. Even better, a company called Bringo will play your secretary. Pick the company you're trying to reach, leave your phone number, and Bringo will call you when they've got a customer service rep on the line. Worried about what else Bringo will do with your digits? They're not out to screw you, Bringo founder Clement Wang told Freakonomics:

"Rest assured, we do not resell or reuse the phone numbers in any way, other than tracking whether folks have validated their phone number successfully (in order to control crank-calling from our site). We also have no capability at this time (and do not plan to add) any monitoring of the phone calls placed through our site—so we do not capture any conversations or any digits typed into the phone once the user is connected to the companies they are trying to contact."

By the way, my phone bill's balance due was incorrect. My frugality knows no language barriers.

The Simple Way to Reheat Your French Fries and Not Have Them Turn Into a Soggy Mess

Some restaurant dishes are made to be doggy-bagged and reheated in the microwave the next day. Not French fries: The more crispy and delectable they are when they first arrive on your table, the more of a soggy disappointment they’ll be when you try to revive them at home. But as The Kitchn recently shared, there’s a secret to making leftover fries you’ll actually enjoy eating.

The key is to avoid the microwave altogether. Much of the appeal of fries comes from their crunchy, golden-brown exterior and their creamy potato center. This texture contrast is achieved by deep-frying, and all it takes is a few rotations around a microwave to melt it away. As the fries heat up, they create moisture, transforming all those lovely crispy parts into a flabby mess.

If you want your fries to maintain their crunch, you need to recreate the conditions they were cooked in initially. Set a large pan filled with about 2 tablespoons of oil for every 1 cup of fries you want to cook over medium-high heat. When you see the oil start to shimmer, add the fries in a single layer. After about a minute, flip them over and allow them to cook for half a minute to a minute longer.

By heating up fries with oil in a skillet, you produce something called the Maillard Reaction: This happens when high heat transforms proteins and sugars in food, creating the browning effect that gives fried foods their sought-after color, texture, and taste.

After your fries are nice and crisp, pull them out of the pan with tongs or a spatula, set them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil, and sprinkle them with salt. Now all you need is a perfect burger to feel like you’re eating a restaurant-quality meal at home.

[h/t The Kitchn]

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