Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas Crush - Chapter 1

Crap! The one of the damn cash registers just crashed.  For the fifth time this week.  I wish the cheapskates at the head office would realize how badly we need a new one.  Or two.  Unfortunately, that’s as likely to happen as me winning the lottery tonight is, slim to none.  That’s if I survive this day. So far, it’s grueling, just as a Saturday during the Christmas shopping season should be. 
Back to the faulty cash register.  I try the regular quick fixes the guys at tech support have instructed us on multiple times, with no luck.  Time to call tech support.  I’m sure Ben, the new tech guy, thinks I’m an idiot, but at least he’s friendly. Unlike his predecessor who sounded very annoyed whenever he answered the phone. I got the feeling he thought we broke stuff just to annoy him.
“Tech support, Ben speaking. How may I help you?” A friendly voice comes through the receiver after a few rings.  I must admit I think Ben has a sexy voice.  It’s a deep, sexy baritone.
“Hi! This is Julie, from store 6892.  We have another issue with our second cash register, it just crashed. Again. We have a bunch of people in line here, so it’s a bit of a crisis to only have one working register.”
“Hi Julie. I’ll see what I can do,” Ben says, his tone is friendly.  I kind of get the impression he’s happy to have something to do.  “I should probably remember it, but what’s the ID-number on the register?”
I rattle off the number and Ben asks me to hold the line while he tries to remotely access it to see if he can sort out the issue.  I can hear him typing through the phone.  After a few minutes, he’s back on the line.
“Sorry, but this isn’t something I can fix remotely,” he says apologetically.  “I’ll send someone to look at it as early as possible next week.”
“There’s nothing you can do? It’s Saturday and with the Christmas rush it’s mayhem here.  We can’t really manage with just one register.”
“I wish I could help you now, I do, but I can’t.  It looks like it’s a hardware error, which needs to be confirmed on-site by a tech and the equipment will be either fixed or replaced.  We don’t have anyone that can do go out and do that today. And if we had someone it wouldn’t make much of a difference since we won’t be able to get parts or have a new register delivered and installed until Monday anyway.”
“Got it. I know it’s not your fault.  Thanks for trying.”  I end the call and brace myself for the rest of the day.  My experience is that customers aren’t very understanding when stuff like this happens, but we’ll just have to try to make the best of it and be as efficient as possible.  Deep breaths, Julie. 
I wish I could’ve done something to help Julie, but today the problems are beyond what I’m able to fix from my laptop.  I really feel for her and the rest of the staff.  I know how crazy people get when they’re Christmas shopping. It’s one of the many reasons I have absolutely no intention of going to a mall anytime soon. The main reason is that I can’t bear the thought of navigating the crowds in a wheelchair.  It was bad enough when I could still walk. 
Before I can think more about it the phone rings again.  This time I manage to solve the caller’s problem and it’s a good feeling to accomplish something. Even if it’s something minor most computer-literate people should be able to do on their own.
To be completely honest I’m totally overqualified for this job, but when I saw the ad I decided to apply. I’m sure Professor Clark, who was my mentor when I wrote my Master’s thesis, would have my hide if he knew I’m doing a mere tech support job.  But he doesn’t know I broke my back and has spent most of the past year trying to get back on my feet. Figuratively speaking, not literally.   I see this job as a step in the right direction. A small one, but still. I’m employed and I get paid for what I do again. I count that as progress.
The main selling point in the ad was that I can work from home, the job is done from a laptop, via remote connection.  I’ve committed to staying at home during the hours I’m on call. It wasn’t a hard thing to commit to since I barely leave my apartment these days.  To get paid to stay at home is freaking awesome. The staying at home part of the deal is definitely a bonus.
That I have a somewhat valid excuse to refuse my family’s frequent (and my few remaining friends not so frequent) attempts to get me out of here is a bonus. They don’t argue when I say I’m on call. Apparently having to work is a valid excuse.  But to be brutally honest I’m not sure if they respect me or if they’ve just given up on me and have decided to leave me to my hermit ways. I hope it’s the former, but I fear it’s the latter.  Which is a bit depressing.  Which is a good description of my life these days. Depressing that is.
We get through the day. Barely. People are about as understanding as I expect them to be. Which means not very understanding at all.  Most of them act like we broke that register on purpose to piss them off or something like that.  Like we’re some kind of sadists. What the fuck is wrong with people? 
The only highlight of my day was the short conversation with Ben.  He’s the opposite of Michael, his predecessor.  When I’ve talked to Ben I got the feeling he really wanted to help and fix the whatever was wrong. And he sounded genuinely sorry today when he couldn’t.

Michael just seemed to get annoyed when we called him and he never apologized when he couldn’t help. He just hung up and a few days later some equally grumpy guy from head office would appear in-store.  I’m already bracing myself for the encounter with the tech guy we’ll have to deal with next week. Ben said he’d send someone.  Apparently he’s strictly over-the-phone.  Which is a shame, I’m pretty sure he’s as nice in-person as he is on the phone. Unfortunately, it seems like I’ll never find out.


  1. Great beginning. Can't wait to see how they get together.

  2. What a nice surprise, to have another Christmas story on this blog! Thanks for writing and I really liked the beginning! Can't wait for the next chapter, I hope you will be able to keep to your plan!

  3. ooh, nice start. I look forward to seeing what happens next.

  4. Update soon, update soon! Only one thing... It was too short! Great start!

  5. Lovely and intriguing. Thanks for the new story.

  6. Yay Christmas story! Yay Mille is back! Thank you. Looking forward to seeing what happens next!

  7. Oh, I didn't even notice that there is a new story on blog as the title is so similar to Annabelle's! :)
    Thank you for the sweet beginning and looking forward to the next chapter!