Thursday, January 27, 2011

Statue of Superman

This is a fond memory of mine and a favorite story to tell.

We, Debra, Dearth and myself, were driving by a very large cemetery. Dearth was 3 or 4 at the time and was sitting in his car seat in the back.

“Daddy! Daddy! Look! Look! Is that a statue of Superman?”

Debbie and I both look. There, standing with arms raised above his head, was a large statue of Jesus.

Deb looked at me and I didn’t even hesitate.

“Yes son. Yes it is.”

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Life, as we know it, stops when the email servers go down

All Hell breaks loose when the email servers go down. It is like Armageddon. People stop thinking and just call the help desk.

Typically this is how it goes.

First call:

Me: “Thank you for calling computer support how may I help you.”

Customer: “My email isn’t working.”

We go through various troubleshooting steps and during this time I hear similar calls being received by co-workers. Now we know there is a company-wide problem and we contact the email team. This information is relayed to the customer.

Customer: “Is there an estimated time of completion for this?”

Me: “They just found out about it and probably do not know what the problem is yet.”

Customer: “So no?”

Me: “No.”

Customer: “Will you send me an email when this is fixed?”

Me: “I would be happy to.”

The customer hangs up before realizing that he just asked me to contact him via the same system that is broken. They make me laugh. I have the phone number and will call him back when it is fixed.

The next 5 to 10 customers goes something like this.

Me: “Thank you for calling computer support how may I help you?”

Customer: “I’m trying to log into my email and it is not letting me.”

Me: “Yeah we are having a problem with the system right now and the email team is working on the problem.”

Usually the will say ok and hang up or ask if there is an estimated time of completion. My sense of humor starts to kick in after the 10th caller or so.

Me: “Thank you for calling computer support how may I help you?”

Customer: “I’m trying to log into email.”

Me: “Yeah. That probably isn’t working for you.” or “How’s that going for you?”

I normally use this as a way of lightening an ugly situation. People are never happy when email goes down.

Customer: “How am I supposed to contact my publisher if email is down?”

Me: “Does your publisher have a phone number?”

Saying things like that will often get you accused of being a smart ass. You must be very careful to keep the tone of your voice neutral. It is also important to keep a hand close to your headset microphone. Laughing co-workers are a dead give-away.

Understand that we, as a help desk, are not unsympathetic to the customers. We honestly want to help them fix their problems. Our reasons range from honestly wanting to help the person to helping them so I do not have to talk to that stupid asshole anymore. It is in our best interest to resolve problems quickly.

That being said, I like it when people do not call me. It means everything is working or our phone system has broken and we haven’t noticed yet. Either way I get paid the same amount of money.

Oh, and by the way, we do not change your passwords just so you have to call us for help. I get paid whether I speak to you or not. My goal is to never talk to you and I sure as hell would not do something, on purpose, to make you call me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fun with Joe

I was sitting on the couch trying to wake up after getting out of bed and coming downstairs. I had a nice cup of coffee and the world was just coming into focus.

Joe decided to hop up beside me and play his very favorite game. I don’t indulge him too often because his favorite game usually ends with me bleeding in many places. He loves to be roughed up.

The game starts with him lying on his back beside me, stretching a paw out and extending his claws to touch my body. The claw does no real damage and is simply a challenge. It is an invitation to touch his stomach. If you dare the game is on. I will put my hand on his tummy and pull it away fast. When he guards his stomach too closely I grab his face and spin him around. Eventually I am not quick enough and he wraps my hand and arm up with all five pointy ends latched on. The next five minutes are spent trying to minimize the damage he is about to inflict. It is a lot like trying to pull burdocks off of a cotton gloves without removing the gloves from your hands. He doesn’t bite hard enough to break skin and the claws only grab hold (they do pierce though). As long as you don’t jerk back you will not get any serious injuries. With me he is a little rougher than anyone else and the game is pretty spirited. It ends when I am forced to grab his back legs and lift him until he lets go with the other claws and his teeth. I sounds much worse than it is. I was definitely the loser. Both hands and forearms have multiple new scratches and marks from his teeth.

I finish my coffee and go upstairs to take a shower. I had to go to work.

I step into the nice hot water hoping that it will finish waking me up. I’m still a little out of it. I grab my son’s shower gel, (one of the Axe variants) lather up and my arms start burn. I look down and my arms are covered in the red shower gel. It has the same color as blood and (under the shower) about the same look. Holy crap! Joe hit an artery. This all goes through my mind in a flash. The adrenaline jump starts me into full consciousness and I have a good laugh.

I really have got to stop letting Joe sucker me into that game when I’m still waking up. It is not good for my heart.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Don't do it!

Deb and I were selling smoothies, for a fund raiser, at one of the local middle schools. The kids buy the smoothies with their lunches. We show up with around 300 premade smoothies and then we make another 100 to 200 to keep up with demand.

We are there for the entire lunch period which comes in about 6 waves. There is a short rest period in between each wave of children. It is a hard 3 to 4 hours.

During one of these breaks I’m standing beside Deb and I put my arm around her. I behave myself and my hand rests lightly on her hip. She looks at me “You can’t do that. That is sexual harassment.” I wave my left hand at her “I have my get out of sexual harassment ring on.” I resist the urge to grab her bottom. Regardless, I get smacked upside the head for it.

We’ve been married for 20 years this coming anniversary. We anticipate each other’s reactions and have a pretty good idea what the response to any given question/action will be. I should have grabbed her bottom.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

One of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days?

I brushed my teeth without incident, but when I was shaving I nicked myself. This was not discovered until I took a shower and applied soap to the injured area.

The shower is finished and I open the shower curtain to find out that I left my towel hanging on the door. I have to step out of the shower onto the bare floor to get it. I’m OCD about some things and this is one of them. I hate stepping out of a shower wet. It really bothers me. I like to dry off before stepping out.

Having gotten past the OCD crisis I put on my deodorant. I raise my left arm and apply the deodorant with my right hand. The top of the deodorant pops off and plops into the toilet. I reach down and flush the toilet. I am not sticking my hand in there.

I open the bathroom door and step out onto Topaz’s tail. The yowl of pain start just before my foot landed on her tail. I jerked my foot back, lost my balance and went shoulder first into the wall. Topaz darted off without being touched. Heart pounding, shoulder throbbing I reach my room.

I yank a shirt off of a hanger. The plastic hanger retaliates by snapping off of the metal bar and hitting me in the forehead. I take my time and get dressed without hurting myself or breaking anything.

I would like to say that my bit of bad luck ended there, but it didn’t. I made myself a cup of coffee and managed to scald my hand when I picked the cup up quickly. The hot liquid sloshed over the top and onto my hand. Then I took a big sip of the same cup of coffee that just scalded my hand. Yep, I scalded my tongue and mouth also.

Life is just hundreds of little things stacked on top of one another. Every now and then the stack teeters and falls. Don’t forget to duck when that happens.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stupid Global Warming

The last week has been interesting. It began to snow on the 26th and did not stop until the 27th. When it was done we were covered in about a foot of the nasty cold stuff. Not only did we get buried, but now I had to eat a great big piece of karma pie.  My Mother and Sister cheerfully served that up to me as they pointed out that we have had more snow in Virginia then they have in New York this year.

Dearth spent the night at our friend’s house so I took the pickup truck to go get him. The snow was still coming down pretty hard when I arrived and I pulled into the drive way without thinking. There is a large dip in the front of their driveway. The pickup is rear wheel drive. When the front of the truck went into the dip the back tires could not get enough traction to move it out. I had my friend jump in the driver’s seat and Dearth and I try to push it out. Just as we were about to start my boss calls my cell. He needs me to cover for the other over night guy. He is snowed in and cannot make it in. My boss is from the same general location of NY that I am. He also knows that I am not afraid to drive in the snow. I tell him that I will go in after I get the truck unstuck and get a short nap (it was supposed to be my day off). Two of my friend’s neighbors lend us their backs and we get the truck unstuck. I didn’t get the nap.

I make it to work and find that one of the city plows had done the same thing that I did with the pickup. To add to his pain three more plows were there to help. That entertained me for a few hours as I watched them try to get the big truck unstuck. I didn’t even know the city had that many plows. Of course they do not know how to plow. Single tracks down the middle of three lane roads, unplowed exit ramps and long lines of snow piles in the road are just a few of the things you can look forward to when they plow. When I tried to leave the next morning three lines of snow about a foot and a half high were in front of the parking garage exit. I did my best Dukes of Hazard impression coming out of the garage. I got a little bit of air, plowed through the snow and fish tailed as I made my escape. I only regret not having a horn that played Dixie.

You may remember that I said that I didn’t even own a snow shovel? Well I don’t. So I had to use the small flat shovel in my shed. I used it to shovel off our front sidewalk and three of my neighbor’s. The shovel is about half the length of a typical snow shovel. This means that I was bent over for the entire time. On top of that it is made of metal. It is excellent for breaking up the ice, but snow sticks to it. To keep the snow from sticking I had to give the shovel a pretty hard snap to shake the snow off of each scoop. The next day was painful. I could hardly stand up straight. I’m sure there were some muscles that weren’t tender, but I couldn’t find them. After the sun dried up the little bit I missed, maintenance came by and salted the nice dry sidewalk (morons).

It has warmed up again. I only needed a sweat shirt to go outside today and most of the snow is melted away. Hopefully that will be the last of it for some years.  Happy New Year everyone!