Mona “The Hammer” Shaw doesn’t have any regrets about laying waste to her local Comcast office with said construction tool, bucko, don’t you worry.
Once she got out of the handcuffs that August 2007 afternoon, and a story in The Washington Post made the 70-something retired nurse from Bristow a folk hero for fed-up customers everywhere, life has been sweet.
She’s lost 45 pounds. She and her husband of nearly half a century, Don, work out at the gym and she’s got some buff biceps. They still take in dogs from the local shelter and are active in their Unitarian church.
And, oh, people still call her “The Hammer Lady.”
Her celebrity began when Comcast couldn’t provide her steady service of its Triple Play option, which combined phone, cable and Internet service. After the Shaws’ many complaints, Comcast cut off service entirely. She went to the office to speak to a manager, Comcast had her wait two hours and the manager left for the day. The next Monday morning, it was hammer time. Shaw demolished the customer service rep’s monitor, keyboard and telephone. While people ducked under desks and called the cops, Shaw bellowed: “Have I got your attention now?”
Sure, she got tossed into the squad car, but what of it? After the story about her exploits ran, the charges were dropped. There were hundreds of calls and letters, endless pats on the back from friends and neighbors, and complete strangers sent her money to pay legal bills (she donated it all to the local animal shelter).
Dr. Phil flew her out to Los Angeles, limos and airfare and hotels included, for a show on vigilante justice. “I was the vigilante,” she says proudly. Three years later, people still cite her as the image of fed-up consumers – CBS News came down in November for another piece.
Meanwhile, Don gave her a golden brooch of… a hammer. She wears it everywhere. They had T-shirts made up, a picture of her and her red-and-black steel hammer on the front. On the back, her do-we-still-have-a-problem-here-missy question of the customer service rep.
“I have had so much fun with this,” she says.
The only real downsides were that her 95-year-old mother-in-law “thought I’d lost my marbles,” and she had to pay her lawyer $2,500 for services that she thought were somewhat less than exemplary. (No hammer was involved in the billable hours discussion, however.)
On a recent sunny afternoon, she and Don received a visitor in their modest ranch-style house.
After an hour of catching up, there is only one question left. Who is your cable and Internet service provider these days?
A pause. She clears her throat.
She has Verizon for the telephone service and Comcast for the Internet. “To tell you the truth, I have fewer problems with Comcast than I do with Verizon.”