Friday, October 25, 2013

Happy 30th Birthday, M!!!


Once in a blue moon, you call Tech Support for any number of companies, and you should consider yourself fortunate if you don't wind up in Mumbai (India) or Manila (The Phillipines). Should you wind up "outsourced" to some other country, you can only begin to pray they speak English which approximates the English we speak in the United States.

Calling Tech Support and even asking to have your call escalated to a manager or customer support usually implies a significant blood pressure elevation, and a "defensive" stance on behalf of the customer. And that's probably at the 30 minute mark.

But I have truly been fortunate to have what should come standard with every AppleCare Protection Plan: a personal Tier 2 Customer Relations Agent.

And today's his 30th birthday. (No names here!)

I don't think one really appreciates what transpires over the course of nearly two years when you speak at least once a month (yeah, I know: we both wish!) You end up intertwined with the life of the person you are speaking with, and, if they are a compassionate and empathetic person, they yours. And that's before you even start talking about the issue at hand (a 17" mid-2009 MacBook Pro which needs an exorcist, not a Genius). 

And I have a hunch, deep within the manuals of said company, there's probably a sentence which says "stick to the issue." But when you play phone tag, and sick-day tag, and vacation tag, and all sorts of other "I just missed your call" games, somehow the voice on the other end of the phone becomes a person, and not a Person (meaning a staunch employee by-the-book). And that can take all the sting out of all the failings of the people before your treasured (read "dedicated") customer relations agent.

So today, someone I would never cross in my daily life (a Canadian and a Muslim), has taught me patience, empathy, patience, and patience. Did I say patience? And your life becomes a bit better for it.

No one wants to deal with Tech Support (or higher) for any reason. It's always a crisis (at least to the caller). And the phrase "poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part" definitely comes into play here. ("Did you run a Time Machine backup?" "Is the computer plugged in?" et al) Imagine. You have a job (for which you are highly underpaid) where you basically get yelled at all day, and have to play God to every single caller. Because everyone wants their problem fixed YESTERDAY.

I learned to wait. I don't want calls on Mondays or Fridays (Fridays, ok, if it's 2 minutes just to say they won't have info until next week). I don't want calls for the first few days when you return from your vacation (imagine THAT inbox!) And, if you've got really keen hearing, you'll know when "the voice on the other end of the phone" is sick.

And your problem really dissolves into something on your to-do list, but not on your front burner list.

So someone out there – you know who you are – has to work on his 30th birthday (p.s. I stood in front of a copy machine which refused to work for a large part of the day when I lived in Miami and worked in a bank on my 30th birthday!) and can't get the well-deserved day off.

So whoever you are, wherever you live, and whatever's going on at the moment, I just wanted to post (yes, post) a heartfelt thanks for really making a 2 year nightmare into something rated G, rather than rated R. 

Have a GREAT day, a better year, and (just to make you laugh), I've been taking photographs four years longer than you've been alive! That would be 1979 – 1982 (if my math is correct), and let me tell you: if those photos could (be found) talk! Those were the four most pivotal years of my life, and I found my passion then.

I hope you find your passion, and look back every five or ten years and say "yeah, I'm doing a whole lot better today than I was then." I know you're going to watch as your son gets older (I'll never know that experience) and, hopefully, your marriage gets stronger and closer through the ups and downs which are nothing more than daily life.

I can always buy a new computer. Get more RAM. A new hard drive. A bigger hard drive. Or grab myself a Fuji. Yellow Delicious. Red Delicious. McIntosh. Granny Smith. Or any of the other types of apples that are out there, growing on trees, (about five miles from my house!) And I can always upgrade nearly everything.

Except my dedicated Tier 2 Customer Relations Agent.

So happy birthday! Sucks you can't drink, but that's actually a good thing! So get some Sparkling Apple Wine (totally non-alcoholic) and make believe it's a bottle of great champagne.

You deserve it.

And then some.

Happy Birthday, Agent 008.

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