Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas Crush - Chapter 2

Monday morning, I wake up at 6:55 am.  I transfer to my chair and wheel to the bathroom to get started on my morning routine.  An hour later I’m showered and dressed in my normal attire these days; sweatpants, a t-shirt and a fleece jacket.  I don’t bother with shoes; a pair of thermal socks does the trick.  It’s not like I’m going anywhere today and I don’t expect any visitors.
As always in the morning I’m in desperate need of some caffeine and for a second I consider heading to the Starbucks down the block, but when I realize it’ll require putting on shoes and other tedious tasks I change my mind and head to the kitchen.
At 8:25 my work laptop is booted up I’m logged in.  I quickly check my email, nothing is waiting for me and I decide to call my boss to inform him the register that crashed Saturday and probably needs to be replaced.  Better get it over with.
“John speaking.”  His tone is grumpy. As it always is.
“Good morning, Ben Rhodes here.”
“I’ve got caller I.D., Rhodes.  What’s going on?”  Good morning to you too, Boss. I can’t resist rolling my eyes.  Good thing it’s not a Facetime call.
“Julie at location 6892 called Saturday. One of their registers crashed again.”
“It’s probably nothing a reboot won’t fix. Why are you even calling me about this? I’ve sent several emails with quick fixes to the store managers.”
“I received several calls from that store about that specific register last week, five to be exact.  The first time I had to walk the girl that called through the quick fixes, but when they called later that week I they’d tried them before they called and it didn’t help. I tried to remotely access and fix whatever was wrong without success. I kept getting error messages.  You need to send someone over there to look at it on-site. I have a feeling that register needs to be replaced.”
“Are you sure about this? I really don’t want to send someone over there only to find out that it’s a minor issue.  They’re not the only store with issues and we’re pretty swamped now.”
“Yeah, I’m sure. I tried every trick I know without success,” I say with more confidence than I feel.  I am sure, but John’s attitude makes me doubt myself. 
“Ok, I’ll get the ball rolling.”  With that John ends the call and the line goes dead. 
When I arrive at work at noon Monday I feel somewhat ready to tackle the onslaught of Christmas shoppers that are bound to arrive any time, but I’m not as sure as I realize we still have only one working register.  And I’m disappointed and a little annoyed with Ben. Why didn’t he send someone to fix it he told me he would on Saturday?
I walk into the back and quickly deposit my bag and jacket in my locker and pull on my uniform shirt.  On my way back to the shop floor I run into Aaron, my boss.
“Hi Julie,” he greets me. “What’s the story with the second register?  Theresa mentioned that you called support Saturday and they were supposed to send someone, but I haven’t heard from anyone at head office today.”
“I talked to Ben, the new tech guy.  He tried some stuff, but it didn’t work and he said he’d send someone to check it out.”
“Did he say anything about when?”
“Nothing concrete, but I got the impression that he’d get someone to come here as soon as possible.”
Aaron sighs. “I guess I’ll have to make another call to tech, I haven’t heard from them today which isn’t a great sign.”
Since I made the call Saturday and wouldn’t mind talking to Ben again (how could I with a voice like his?) I volunteer to make the call and Aaron doesn’t object since he’s got plenty of other stuff to do.  When I sit down in the office I realize I’m being kind of silly.  I don’t even know if Ben’s on call today, but my hand still tremble slightly as I dial the too-familiar number to tech support.  After a few minutes listening to 80’ies power ballads and repeated messages saying tech support is busy I finally get through.
“Tech support, Ben speaking.” Ben’s familiar baritone comes through the phone.
“Hi Ben. It’s Julie at store 6892.”
“Hi Julie. What’s up?” Ben sounds as friendly as ever and the annoyance I felt when I saw the register wasn’t fixed quickly diminish.  
“Well…um… When we talked Saturday, you said you’d send someone to look at our faulty register ASAP, but no one has been here today and my boss haven’t heard from head office.  What’s going on?”
“I reported the issue to my boss before nine this morning and he said he’d send someone to look at it,” Ben tells me. 
“Did he say when someone would come?”
“Nope. He just told me he’d get the ball rolling on getting someone to come and check it out on-site.  I know they’re busy, you’re not the only store with tech issues.”  Ben sounds a bit flustered, like he’s worried I’ll yell at him or something like that.  To be honest I am getting annoyed with the situation. That we’re not the only store with problems doesn’t make the customers yelling at whoever is manning our only working register friendlier or more understanding.
“Right…,” I sigh. “Do you think there’s a chance someone will come tomorrow? We’re really struggling.”
“To be honest with you I have no idea.  I work from home and try my best to fix software issues. When I can’t do that I inform my boss and the rest is up to him.”
Now I’m getting annoyed with Ben. So basically, all he does is sit on his ass in his own home and play on his laptop? And when he’s not able to fix shit without getting off his ass and leaving his house he calls his boss and asks him to send someone else to fix and doesn’t follow up beyond that.  Great.  That really helps. Not.  Apparently, Ben picks up my annoyance through the phone.
“I can call my boss and ask if he has more information, like a concrete day for when someone is coming,” he offers.  The friendly, sexy tone is back. Damn, it’s hard to stay peeved with this guy. I wish I knew what he looks like.
“That would be great! Will you call back when you’ve talked to him?”
“Of course. Can I use this number?”
“Yeah, you can. If I don’t pick up, just ask for me. Julie.”
“Got it. Talk to you soon.”  Before I can say anything else Ben ends the call.  Since there’s nothing more I can do I head out to the shop floor.  It’s a busy night for a Monday.  I hope Ben calls back soon.  With good news.
Damn John! I thought he’d get someone to Julie’s branch today.  Apparently, that didn’t happen and she didn’t sound happy about it.  I don’t blame her.  I brace myself before I pull up John’s number from my contacts and call him for the second time today.  I know this won’t be a pleasant call.  I put my phone in speaker mode, place it on the desk in front of me and do weight ships while I wait for John to pick up.
“What now, Rhodes?”  Friendly greeting…. Not. Just as I predicted John isn’t happy that I’m calling him for the second time today.
“Julie at 6892 just called me. They still have a faulty register and haven’t heard from you or anyone else at tech. They’re hoping you can give them a timeline for when you’ll look at and hopefully fix their faulty register since the Christmas rush is about to get even more intense.”
“We’re swamped here, Rhodes. I already told you that. Hopefully we’ll be able to get someone there sometime next week.”  John sounds exasperated and annoyed.  Not happy I’m calling at all, that’s evident from the tone of his voice.
“But it’s in the middle of the Christmas rush and they only have one working register.  They’re losing sales because it and confirming my diagnosis shouldn’t take long.”
“We don’t have anyone available until next week.  Between a guy with acute appendicitis and another one with a heart attack my staff is pretty sparse.  If you’re so worried about 6892 you’re free head over there whenever you want.”
“Excuse me?”  My job description doesn’t include doing on-site stuff.  I’m a backup tech support that does stuff remotely from home.  Believe me, I read the paperwork, including the small print, thoroughly before I signed it specifically to be able to refuse requests like this
“If you’re so sure of your diagnosis of that register and want that store to be helped now you need to go there and confirm it.  I don’t think asking you to cross the Brooklyn Bridge is asking too much.”
I can’t really argue with that. At least not without revealing to John that I’m in a wheelchair.  Something I didn’t mention in my application and it didn’t come up in my interview, which was done over the phone.  I know it theoretically shouldn’t make a difference since the work I do doesn’t require working legs, but it tends to make a huge difference. 
Before my mind can race further John carries on. “I’m swamped here, so help me out.”  John sounds a bit desperate at the end, almost like he’s pleading with me.  Emphasis on almost.
Will a trip to Midtown kill me?  No, it won’t.  The store in question isn’t far from Grand Central and I can take the subway directly there from Borough Hall.  Both stations are accessible.  I’ve done this route a couple of times before and I know it’s not that bad.  It’s actually better than catching a cab in NYC traffic.  I take a deep breath.  “Fine, I’ll do it.  I can be there before noon tomorrow.”
“Sound good to me,” John says.  “Thanks.”  He terminates the call without further ado and almost immediately I start freaking out about what I’ve agreed to.  I can get there without problems, but I have no idea if the actual store is accessible.  What the hell was I thinking?


  1. It's getting exciting and I wish it didn't end so soon. I feel all wound up waiting for the next chapter to be written. Great stuff!

  2. The same here! :) Thanks for writing and sharing!

  3. Ohhh this is exciting but I wish it didn’t end there!

  4. Thanks, Ben seems like a really nice guy and I keep wondering how their meeting will go. Very good! Looking forward to next week!!

  5. Damn...why did it end here? (Angry face)
    Thank u so much. Love it.

  6. I can't wait until they meet!