It was my weekend to work. It was quiet and I was feeling productive. As I meandered around the building, collecting the equipment from our former phone and cable provider, I realized the new equipment from the new provider wasn’t working properly, for the umpteen time mind you. Could it really be broken again? Tinkering with the cords, cables, and boxes, I was convinced it was simply a fluke, but with extreme displeasure I discovered fear was actualized.
Having a lack of connectivity wasn’t the basis of my fear; rather, I dreaded the unavoidable phone call to the company’s tech support department. I was all too familiar with tech support. There had been mix-ups, typos, mishaps, bungles, boo-boos, oversights, underestimations, misjudgments, snafus, and anything else that resembled a mistake but wasn’t actually defined as such, since the initial installation.
Dialing the phone number, I grabbed my pad of paper that had every number and name I’d used in the last month of communication with this company. The phone rang and rang and rang. Finally the automated voice answered and began asking me questions. I responded using short, one syllable words while emphasizing my robotic intonations. She didn’t understand. I repeated myself louder, abandoning the robotic mimicry altogether and welcoming my irritated assertion. I was put on hold.
Finally the line was live again, but there was silence on the other end. Generally it’s at this point in the unpleasant interaction when all the pleasantries are exchanged, but there was nothing to listen to, therefore nothing to say. Tempted to hang up, I decided first to reach out into the silence and hope, a term I use loosely under the circumstances, for a response.
“Hello?” There was a long pause.
“Hello! And good afternoon. My name is Mr. Anderson.”
Not a Brian or a Jeff or a Kelly? No. it was Mr. Anderson. Capital “M” little “r,” Anderson.
The man’s voice was so staccato and artificially toned I thought I was speaking to another pre-recorded voice, but alas, he was alive and all too well. Mr. Anderson continued by reminding me to stay on the line after our conversation for a brief (five minutes isn’t brief enough in my opinion) survey and he informed me that our call might be monitored or recorded.
Prolonging the process, Mr. Anderson, looking for clarification, asked, "And your last name is Hamel?"
"Yes." I answered, already annoyed by the conversation and having no interest in reciting facts that had already been established.
With confusing amounts of enthusiasm, he replied, "Wonderful and glorious and Happy New Year!"
(Literally. Mr. Anderson said those exact words. I wrote them down verbatim because they were so bizarre.)
My initial reaction was of amusement. I cracked a smile even. But my pride, no my principles, won out. It was at that pivotal moment I realized I could no longer sit idly by as phone and cable providers all around this great nation so cheerfully sold such terrible products to trusting citizens.
I pulled a mask from my purse, tied a tablecloth around my neck, and I became the vigilante this world needed- one that righted the wrongs, combated the seething criminal underworld, and guaranteed all paid for services were met with quality products and customer care. It was in that moment, and thanks to Mr. Anderson, my nemesis, I became The Better Business Vindicator.*
*This story is 100% true up until the genesis of my superhero alter-ego.