car·riage re·turn

n. the lever or mechanism on a typewriter that would cause the cylinder on which the paper was held (the carriage) to return to the left margin of the page


Stress Monster

I’m really happy to be leaving California.  Really happy.  The last few months have been extremely stressful,both in terms of my professional and personal lives.  The work schedule of the past two months was intense,with two field operations lumped on top of my out-processing responsibilities.

Combined with work was the application and admissions process for school next semester.   I would come back to my room in the barracks after work,already feeling defeated and worn down from the day,and I would sit down at my computer and plunk out some part of my application –my personal statement,my personal/extra-curricular activities history,my application itself –in an effort to turn in my Wisconsin two weeks early (as I would be in the field when the application was actually due).

I also had a commitment to my newspaper writing,something that I entered into eagerly and still enjoy.  As a result of my various diversions,this site has suffered.  The number of daily visitors has dropped by half,and it’s not the fault of the readership.  I’ve stepped away from the commitment I made here to attend to other things which were a higher priority (some to me,some to other individuals).

I’m not going away,at least as long as my cable Internet provider (I hope someone at Cox is reading this) doesn’t fail me.  In the past month I’ve had to call the company on two separate occasions because my connection has dropped completely.  Being an IT guy by trade,I can generally fix anything that is wrong on my end (nothing),but of course to get any kind of service on the other end I have to navigate through an annoying automated troubleshooting system,repeating “I WANT TO SPEAK TO A REPRESENTATIVE”countless times before,finally,I’m hot-routed to a customer “service”rep.

I can count how many times Cox’s rep has been helpful or able to provide me with service on the outstretched fingers of a clenched fist.  Tonight was such an occasion.  At about 8:30 I attempted to do some research for a few of the changes I’m planning for this site.  I begin to fret when,five minutes later,nothing has loaded in my browser.  I disconnect the modem to refresh the connection,but when it comes back on the link light is dead.

I call Cox.

The automated system begins the tired routine,asking me to verify that my modem is unable to connect,then telling me to do everything I have already done to attempt to connect to the service.  Not in the mood for tomfoolery,I continually request a representative until I am finally put on hold for the next available individual.

Travis,the rep,can’t help me.  We try refreshing everything,both on his end,and mine.  Travis informs me that he’s going to dispatch a tech to come look everything over,which I agree is a good idea.  After all,there just might be something wrong with Cox’s equipment in the server closet of the barracks.

Then Travis gives me the bad news –the tech won’t be here until sometime Saturday.  I inform him in no uncertain terms that I find the wait completely unacceptable,especially in light of my previous problem this month.  Travis informs me that this is,in fact,the third time I’ve had to call Cox in three months,and that if I call their billing department tomorrow I can request my service be prorated to absorb the lost time.

I thank Travis for his suggestion,but inform him I’d rather have someone come fix the service I’m paying for already.  When Travis says it’s very unlikely that I’ll see someone before Saturday (but he’ll put me in the standby line,just in case!) I request to speak to the manager.  Surely a manager can do something.

The wait on hold for the supervisor takes 25 minutes.  By the time Manager Brad announces his presence on the line I’m fuming.  No service for nearly an hour.  Waiting until Saturday for the cable company to fix their problem.  Quite the way to run the business.

I tell Manager Brad all my problems.  The polar ice caps are melting,the North Koreans have The Bomb,and oh,my Internet service is down.  I don’t need help with fixing the air pollution in LA,but I could use a little help connecting to the Web.  You know,Brad,in case any of the schools I applied to send me important emails or I decide I want to update my blog for once in a blue moon.

Brad says that,as a mighty manager for Cox,he can’t do anything.  But he can make sure I’m on standby.  I tell him that I’m already on standby.
Brad:Is there anything else I can do for you tonight,sir?

Me:Well,Brad,have you been able to do anything for me so far?

Brad:  Umm…no…

Me:  Then it would seem pretty pointless for me to expect you to be able to do anything else,right?

Brad:  Well…

Me:  It seems to me,Brad,that the usefulness of this conversation has expired.

Brad:  Well,sir,if you feel that way I’d like to thank yo-


I’m not proud of giving Manager Brad a little verbal abuse,but it seems to me that Travis is getting the short end of the stick.  The stress of the last two months is slowly ebbing,but little things seem to be continually working their way under my skin and annoying me like the cake crumbs inside the rhinoceros’skin.

I’m slowly working my way back here.  Two posts this week,two last week,hopefully one this weekend.  I have interesting things going on –packing up belongings,burning CDs for the long drive back,reading Zamyatin –things you might like to read about.

Things I’m going to start writing about again (again).

2 comments to Stress Monster

  • Kootch

    I hate dealing with those tech guys,and unlike you,I’m pretty clueless when anything technological goes wrong on my end.

  • F.G. Emeritus

    Ah,yes,nothing quite like Tech Support for Dummies.

    “I can count how many times …on the outstretched fingers of a clenched fist….”

    Now that isn’t an expression one sees every day!

    “Things I’m going to start writing about again (again).”

    Oddly enough this reminds me of a bogus record album I saw reviewed in a Harvard Lampoon parody of “Rolling Stone”a number of years ago,one called “On the Road Again (Again):Willie Nelson Sings Jack Kerouac.”Too bad it isn’t a real record,for it might have been perfect for your big trip!

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