Page 3 of 3   <      

Taking a Whack Against Comcast

Mona "The Hammer" Shaw, attention-getting tool of choice in hand, was arrested after smashing items in Comcast's Manassas office last August. (Photos By Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)

"I scared the tar out of some people, at least," she says. "It had never occurred to me to take a hammer to a phone company before, but I was just so upset. . . . After I hit the keyboard, I turned to this blonde who had been there the previous Friday, the one who told me to wait for the manager, and I said, ' Now do I have your attention?' "

It wasn't all fun.

"My blood pressure went up around my ears. I started hyperventilating. They had to call the rescue squad and put me on a litter."

By the time it was over, she recalls, there were an ambulance, two police cruisers and a sergeant's car in the parking lot. Shaw received a three-month suspended sentence for disorderly conduct, a $345 fine in restitution and a year-long restraining order barring her from the Comcast office.

"Truly a unique and inappropriate situation," says Beth Bacha, a vice president for Comcast. She says company policy forbids disclosure of clients' records, but did say their files note that the service record wasn't exactly what Shaw has indicated. Besides, "nothing justifies this sort of dangerous behavior."

Bacha noted that Comcast has more than 25 million customers, the overwhelming majority of which are very satistified with their service.

Manassas police spokesman Sgt. Tim Neumann says there have been other police calls to that Comcast office, but he doesn't know what prompted them.

Bob Garfield, who runs, wrote last week he was happy the site had become an outlet for "so much deep-seated rage," but hoped customers would "keep the hammer assaults down to a bare minimum."

From what we can tell, Mona Shaw is not, actually, a raving lunatic armed with construction tools.

She is a nice lady who lives in a nice house. She and Don are both retired from the Air Force (she was a registered nurse). They have been married 45 years. She is secretary of the local AARP, secretary of a square-dancing club and takes in strays for the local animal shelter (they have seven dogs at the moment). She has a heart condition. She lifts weights at a local gym. The couple attend a Unitarian Universalist church.

Police gave her the hammer back, though she swears she's content to ride off into the sunset of True Crime Stories in America, never again to go Com-smash-tic on her local cable provider.

She does, however, finally, have phone service.

On Verizon.

<          3

© 2007 The Washington Post Company