<<< Previous | Main | Tags | Next >>>

Rant fizzles

[Originally published at the now defunct group blog explananda.com]

Posted on September 7, 2007
Tags: anecdotes
I wrote most of the following rant while on hold. I had intended to file it under “Consumer Complaints,” but no longer have the heart to publish the name of the company. I explain this uncharacteristic reticence, and the nature of the fizzling alluded to in the title of this post, below:

My internet connection went out around noon on Saturday, September 1st. I called to notify them, but nothing could be done that day. And of course no technicians were working on Sunday, so nothing could be done that day. And yet, I ask, did the internet rest on Sunday? Did no one write to me on Sunday expecting a reply? Did I not still have need for internet banking on Sunday? Did Yoon not need to run her business on Sunday? Did I not need to conduct research on Sunday? Did my heart not cry out that I might read Matthew Yglesias on Sunday, as a fitting rest for the spirit after long hours of toil?

And Monday came, but Monday was a holiday. But again, the internet did not cease from its activity, nor did my need for it diminish, though it was a holiday.

But when Tuesday came, then my heart leapt, for surely someone deprived of an internet connection on a Saturday could expect mercy from his internet provider by a Tuesday. And yet in spite of an hour of some of the worst muzak I have ever heard in my life, I could not convince anyone at Company X to fix my internet connection. That day, I stole a few moments with the internet in a shared office on campus. We had missed one another; our reunion was tearful, passionate, our emotions ragged and fierce.

Wednesday came, and I raged like Lear into the phone, starting early in the morning, scattering hapless call centre workers and their supervisors with my fury. Great was my vigilance, since I knew from experience that failing to call regularly would probably mean that my problem would be silently noted in the computer system as resolved by some anonymous fuckwit, ceasing all investigation into the problem.

The problem, I had been told on Tuesday, was far away from my building. But Wednesday morning brought news that the problem was specific to my building. I would need to be there the entire day. Could they tell me when they would come, morning or afternoon? No. No they could not.

Now, I understand that this is a common practice, but let us dream together of a more civilized age, when we will wonder at the memory of the barbaric practice of telling someone to sit at home all day while refusing to hint at when the call might come. “Ha ha ha”, we will laugh, in this more civilized age while we sip a delicious beverage of non-addictive opiates and watch the George W Bush trial on our high resolution holographic videomathingie, “can you imagine that in the past we actually paid people for services and they refused to tell us when they would be willing to provide them?” And then we will levitate and play with light sabers and do other cool things.

And again at 3pm I called, since no one had yet come. And long did I wait on hold, only to be told that someone would certainly arrive by 5pm, just wait for him, just wait for him, just wait for him. And so my dog went unwalked, and I waited by the phone. And at 5:30pm, I called and waxed wroth at both regular operator and supervisor alike. And lo the story changed once again: The problem had again removed to the central office, flitting away like a shade, no one would be coming, no one planned to come, and no one had bothered to tell me any of this. I might have sat by the phone for many hours longer, staring at it, like the teenage victim of a cruel prank by the coolest kid in the school who has asked the victim on a date with no intention of going on it and now the victim is sitting at home staring at the phone, with anger, longing, and confusion all mingling together, and the victim’s ears already beginning to fill with the vividly imagined sounds of mockery to be faced in the halls at school the next day.

But then the good news! The problem would be fixed by the evening! By Wednesday evening! But was it fixed by the evening, dear reader? Search your hearts. I think you already know the answer. In truth, I suspect the technician just lied so that he could go home without fixing the problem. Fucker. The supervisor swore that he would call me the following morning to confirm that my service had been restored, but of course he was lying, and the call never came. But he was lying from the safety of his anonymous perch somewhere on the subcontinent, since although he told me his name three times and I wrote it down, the operator the next day had not heard of him, and his name wasn’t in the file noting our conversation.

I curse Company X. May it’s stock wither and shrivel in the harsh frost of the competitive market. May the ship of its stock sail straight for the icebergs of bankruptcy and insolvency. May other mixed metaphors beset it in strange and contradictory ways, which you will understand to convey my contempt and anger even if no clear image forms in your mind.

And curse the consultants and executives responsible for the establishment and maintenance of such a stupid fucking system. Regarding the men among them, may their teenage children pluck the hair from their beards with a maximum of insolence, and their mistresses leave them for younger men with firmer erections. May the women among them suffer comparable tribulations, though I ask you not to imagine anything that plays into misogynistic tropes, which have done enough damage to our society already. Fuck them. Fuck Company X. Fuck Company X for wasting so much of my time. And last but by no means least fuck the moron who had the bright idea of forcing call centre workers to say repeatedly, right at the end of the conversation, when I was sunk in the dejected weariness that often follows rage, “Our goal at Company X is to provide you with outstanding service. Have I met that goal today?” Because at this point Company X could arrange to have me serially fellated by all the beauties of Hollywood past and present and I would not say - I could not in all honesty say - that I had been provided with outstanding service.

Now imagine in your mind’s eye, dear reader, a man who is stopped on the way into his favourite restaurant by a new headwaiter. The snub is deliberate, gratuitous, infuriating. The man rounds on the headwaiter, points to a table or two kept empty and launches into a magnificent speech. The headwaiter quails under the excoriating blast of righteous indignation. But halfway through his speech, the man reaches around and notices that he has forgotten his own wallet. Even if he had sailed past the headwaiter into the best seat in the house, it would have done him no good. He continues his speech. The principle is the same: The headwaiter could not have known the wallet was missing, and was the snub not deliberate, gratuitous, infuriating? Indeed it was; the offense is identical on either side of the unpleasant discovery of the missing wallet. But what a world of difference there is on the other side! A note of hesitation creeps into his voice. And now the worst dawns on him: so great was his surprise at the discovery that the headwaiter has noticed. The headwaiter stiffens almost imperceptibly. His apologies become unctuous, exaggerated; because at precisely this moment he has seen his enemy falter, no longer a threat. The man mumbles a half-hearted conclusion and backs away. He will never return to this restaurant.

So what happened was this: My internet service had gone out on Saturday. And I had been kept waiting pointlessly throughout of the whole of Wednesday without the courtesy of a call. And to this very moment, I do wish upon the men of company X the plucking of their beards with a maximum of insolence by their teenage children and the departure of their mistresses for younger men with firmer erections, and upon the women of company X comparable tribulations, though again request that you imagine nothing which would perpetuate misogynistic tropes which have done so much harm to society. But my rage is no longer pure, because company X had fixed the problem late Wednesday evening, and my internet connection was not working on Thursday because when I first spoke to them on the Saturday they had me run through a number of different tests with the cable to confirm that the line wasn’t working and at the end of the tests I had . . . left the modem cable not plugged into the phone jack.

From Saturday to Wednesday evening, then, my internet outage was a classic case of what philosophers nowadays call “causal overdetermination.” From Wednesday evening to Thursday afternoon, however, my internet outage was a case of what philosophers who have been drinking heavily might call “dickwad-who-is-me-determination.”

And so when the technicians finally sauntered into my place on Thursday afternoon, they were quickly able to point with a laugh to the fact that the modem wasn’t even plugged in.

I wasn’t there. Or rather, I was and I wasn’t. Yoon called me, and I had to listen in horror to the scene unfold over the phone. There was a bit of joshing, oh yes there was, joshing of the poor woman, who surely knew that she was signing up for a bit of teasing when she married me but could not possibly have guessed how much, or how bitter it would taste. I was nearly doubled over with grief and self-loathing. Their laughter still echoes in my ears. I imagine it always will.

Much like Oedipus condemning the man who slew his father, when I denounced “the one responsible for my internet outage” on the phone throughout Thursday morning, I was unwittingly denouncing: myself - which just goes to show that you should never, even for a moment, turn your back on a definite description. And I would gouge my eyes out, just like Mr. Rex, you know I would, but at this point it wouldn’t do a damn bit of good. No. Such an enormity of suffering could only be redeemed by Art, and so I have written this post.


Author: DC
Date: 2007-09-07

And very fine it is too. But explaim to me: how do you know the problem between Saturday and Wednesday evening was them as well as you rather than just you, if the cable was out all that time?

Regarding the madness of companies not telling you what time of the day they will provide you with their service..I have recently had reason in my job to deal with DHL and…they are absolutely appallingly appalling in this regard - they don’t say what time of the day they call, just the date. And even that they fuck up half the time! Incredible, I find, for such a big famous company, but such is capitalism ho ho ho. Maybe they’re too big to care, at least at the volume of business we give them.

Author: Chris
Date: 2007-09-07

They could see from their end that there was a problem with the central office, and also when it was finally fixed. Apparently I wasn’t the only one affected by the problem, as even the laughing technicians confirmed.

Author: OneFat Englishman
Date: 2007-09-08

I can so see myself doing this. Things like this happen to me on a small scale roughly every month. Why my wife didn’t leave me twenty years ago I have no idea. My all time classic was keeping an intercontinental jet sitting on the concrete while I ranted about the theft of my passport, before finding it in my left hand pocket.

Beautifully done post.

Author: Chris
Date: 2007-09-08

Oh man, that’s painful.

Author: upyernoz
Date: 2007-09-08

that was an awesome post.

Author: Chris
Date: 2007-09-08

Thanks, but I still can’t stop crying.

Author: alif sikkiin
Date: 2007-09-09

My all time classic was keeping an intercontinental jet sitting on the concrete while I ranted about the theft of my passport, before finding it in my left hand pocket.


Author: alif sikkiin
Date: 2007-09-09

Did the other passengers then set upon you with torches and clubs?

Author: OneFatEnglishman
Date: 2007-09-10

Did the other passengers then set upon you with torches and clubs?

Surprisingly, no, but the cabin staff were seriously sarcastic. It probably helped my survival chances that I was only 16 at the time, and in tears. Believe me, I can re-run the scene in great detail after 40 years.