So I haven’t had any internet access for the past four days. Any. In fact, as I write this I don’t have internet access. A Time-Warner guy is supposed to come some time today and repair whatever it is that's broken so that I will once again be able connect to the world wide web, but I’m not holding my breath.
“There are two time slots available,” the Time-Warner guy that I talked to told me. “He’ll call you thirty minutes before he arrives.”
“Okay,” I said. “What are the times?”
“Either tomorrow afternoon between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., or all day, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Which one would you like?”
“Wait…what?” See, because to me, that first time slot actually falls in with the second. Thinking about it now, I could see how the 1-5 slot would be better, because at least then you don’t have to wait around in the morning, but in my experience dealing with Time-Warner, they generally just show up whenever the hell they want to, anyways, so you might as well just make it official. I’ve horror stories all over Austin about how the service guys will call and be all, “Okay, I’m going to be at your place in thirty minutes.”
“But…you weren’t supposed to be there until three this afternoon—it’s 8:30 in the morning.”
“Yeah, well, I finished up a job a little early, so I have time now.”
“But I’m at work—I took this afternoon off specifically so I could be home at the right time.”
“I’m going to be there in thirty minutes—if you aren’t there, you’ll have to reschedule for another day.”
Nothing like that has ever happened to me, but I’ve heard stories. “It doesn’t matter,” I told the guy. “I can be home all day.”
“Okay, then, I’ll just go ahead and request that slot…oh, it’s already been filled. So I’ll just request the other…hm…that one’s been filled, too.”
I waited in silence, wondering what would happen now. He waited with me, both of us very quiet. I was using my headset, so I started cleaning up my living room a little bit. It wasn’t like I was trying to wait him out or anything—I just figured it was better to let him think up a solution before I said anything.
“Hmmmm,” he said.
I stacked some books up on a table—I’ve been reading a lot since I lost my internet connection.
“Hmmmm,” he said again. “Okay, I’ve got it.”
“Yes. Since you don’t have internet access at all, I’ll go ahead a schedule an emergency work order—that should do it.”
“That would be awesome,” I told him. I really like to encourage people when they’re on the right track to making my life better.
“Let me just check with my supervisor.”
“Tell him I said hi.”
He chuckled and put me on hold.
There wasn’t any annoying music—just an occasional beeping that let me know I was still on hold. I appreciated that. I called Office Depot the other day, and while they’re making you hold, they play a loop of commercials. It’s like they discovered two of the most annoying things on the planet—waiting and commercials—and combined them into one, customer-pissing-off event. Imagine the meeting where that idea was thought up:
“So how’s everyone doing? Good weekend? Susan, looks like you got a bit of a sunburn—you go skiing?”
“No. I, uh, got in a car accident.”
“Car accident, really? Well glad you made it back safe and sound. Everybody okay, then?”
“Actually, no. I broke my leg, and three ribs. See the cast? The crutches?”
“Oh, yeah, I did notice those crutches—good color for you. Really brings out the color of your eyes.”
“My eyes are a bloodshot mess because of all the exploded blood vessels.”
“That’s great. Anyway, I called you all here to this meeting today because we have a problem. I’m not gonna mix words with you, people: the problem is the customers. They’re taking up too much of our employees’ time. We need a solution, and we need it now.”
“How about if we make our checkout lines more efficient, so we could get customers in and out of the store faster? Seems like that would be a win-win situation.”
“You’re on the right track here, Bob—I like the part about getting the customer out of the store—but I don’t think you’ve thought of the big picture. Sure, it sounds good on paper, but what you’re talking about would require hours and hours of research, more employees, remodeling, and probably millions of dollars spent on meetings such as this one. Never get it past the guys at corporate.”
“But…we are the guys at corporate.”
“Any more ideas?”
“What if we tried to increase internet traffic? We could make it easier for the customer to get their product without ever coming into the store, or possibly reward them in some way if they ordered online, as opposed to coming in and taking up time.”
“Debby, what have I told you about computers?”
“That they’re tools of the devil, and that technology scares you?”
“Exactly. Never mention that to me again. What else we got?”
“Hey, we could play the sound of children screaming over the intercom system in the stores, make everyone that comes in so irritated that they just go away.”
“I like where you’re going with it, Don, but I don’t want our employees to snap and come after us with shotguns.”
“Tom, I was being sarcastic.”
“That’s what I like about you, Don—always thinking outside the box. This ‘sarcasm’ that you refer to—you learn that at that workshop I sent you to last week? I told you that class would help out, didn’t I?”
“Do you even know what sarcasm is, Tom?”
“Didn’t I tell you? I did, didn’t I? ‘Go to this workshop—learn all kinds of innovative ideas,’ I said. Sarcasm—I like it. Now how do we pull it off without getting gunned down by our employees?”
“Hey, you know what? Our employees waste a lot of time on the phone, talking to customers. Maybe we could play the screaming children sound instead of that crappy music we’ve been using.”
“I like it, Je…wait, what’s you name, again?”
“Dave. I’m your son.”
“Good work, then.”
“Hey, if we’re going to do that, we might as well play something even more annoying than children screaming—how about our commercials?”
“Employee of the month, Don, that’s where you’re headed. More of that ‘sarcasm,’ is it?”
“I like it. I like it a lot.”
Anyways, so the Time-Warner guy gets back on the line, tells me everything is set. He doesn’t give me a time-bracket, but what the hell.
I got an emergency work order approved, so I guess I should be happy with that.