Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

“Our service representative will be there between 8 am and noon on Monday.  Will that work for you?”

The problem isn’t the date.  I don’t have anything in particular planned, but four hours?
“Can you be a little more precise?” I whine.

“No.  All our appointments are in four hour windows.”
“So, I guess that means I’ll have to say it’s o.k. if I want to use your company.”  Wasted time makes me snarky. 

I picture the dispatcher typing “bitch” in the “comments” section of the booking.  My pool isn’t the only one with a defective filter.
Like most people, I do the usual shuffling of appointments and obligations to be home during the window.  The tasks I plan are ones that require minimal concentration and dedication.   Generally, these aren’t my usual tasks, but I don’t want to have to call out, “In a minute,” risk that the service person doesn’t hear me and then leaves, forcing me to call the service again to reschedule, thereby burning another four hour window.  That’s not paranoia, it’s experience.  Not incidentally, I also keep restroom visits to a minimum, and I’ll only use the bathroom closest to the front door.

Tension rises significantly as the appointment window draws to a close.   I begin to wonder if I missed the visit or a call to cancel.  I look out the window.  I check my phones and answering machine.  Maybe the service person got lost.  I become hyperaware of doorbell and knocking sounds, questioning my dogs’ responsiveness and throwing open the door “just in case.”   I check the other clocks in the house.   Sometimes, I’ll go online to make sure I haven’t missed Daylight Savings.  But I can’t call the company yet.  They're still within their timeframe.
 It’s  past the four hour window .  Fifteen minutes, to be precise.  That’s fair for fashionably late, isn’t it?  I call the service.

“It’s 12:15 and the guy isn’t here.”
In 46 years, I’ve only had one female service person.  I feel pretty safe I’m not being sexist.

“What’s your confirmation number?”
I give it to her and am put on hold long enough to hear most of “Love on the Rocks” and a promo of about how the company values my time.

“He’s on his way.”  The service equivalent of “the check’s in the mail.”
“O.K.” I say, clamping my mouth shut and quickly hanging up before something inappropriate slips out.

There is a growing feeling of resentment.  By waiting, I am forced to acknowledge that I need that service more than they need me.  By the flip tone of the dispatcher, I can tell the company isn’t concerned that I will go elsewhere or not be there if the wait is further delayed. 
Oh, yeah?  I’ll show them.

 I dig up the phonebook (oh, so passé, I know), vowing to take my business elsewhere.  There are large x’s in red marker through several ads and numbers already.  I’m somewhere in the middle of the alphabet.  Zach’s Pool Service must have a really grouchy client list.  They probably have an 8 hour window, like the phone company used to have.  I bet their dispatcher doesn’t even bother to hit the mute button when she laughs maniacally.
 I’m screwed.

Of the various jobs I’ve held throughout my lifetime,  none of them had a four hour window.  When I used old school time clocks, I had a 10 MINUTE window.  The last time punch clock I used was to the second.  I was honor bound to be on time while I taught, but a hallway of 36 unsupervised kids would definitely be noticed, not to mention the liability attached.  For any and all of the jobs I’ve held,  if I didn’t show up at the specific hour, even if it was an emergency, I risked a “vacation day” being spent, my pay being docked, or being fired.  I can’t imagine what it would be like telling people I’d be there between 8 am and 12pm.
45 minutes have passed.  I call the service again.  I know the physical store is less than 45 minutes away.

“I called 45 minutes ago to say that the service person is late, and he still hasn’t arrived.”  Needless to say, my tone is frosty.   

They put me on hold.  “We know how important your time is ….”

Not the flush of lust.
My face grows hot.  A tirade is building. 

I know unpredictable stuff happens.  I want a compromise.   In this era of cell phones, I don’t understand why there can’t be a narrower window.   Call for adjustments if there's a delay, but be honest.  Give it to me straight.  I can handle it.  I don’t want to reorganize for a 15 minute window if the actual wait will wind up being a couple hours.   I want to arrange my schedule to get my to-do list done.   This is possible as far as scheduling goes, because I’ve dealt with companies who do it, and I love them.  Maybe it’s my fault.  I should filter out the ones that don’t.  Maybe I should make the pool into a putting green.

The doorbell rings.  I hang up the phone and open the door.  The guy doesn’t even apologize for being over an hour late. 

It’s only in a service guy’s fantasy that “bow-chica-bowbow” plays in the background during his entrance.
Sorry, fella.  As far as you're concerned, the waiting is the hardest part.
In the real world, I’m hearing the theme from “Psycho.”  I think we should both be grateful he’s not here to fix the shower.   

1 comment:

  1. Boy, do I hear that! Especially the bathroom part. And how do you get them to ring the doorbell instead of knocking (which can't be heard throughout the house)? Rampant frustration!


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