It started when I came in to work. The first thing anybody said to me this morning was "the faxes are slow this morning." When we receive faxes, they're delivered via e-mail rather than being printed out, and we tested the system for a long time, so I was the only one receiving faxes this way. Thanks to the system working rather well, I am no longer the only fax guy in town. And for some reason that I can't fathom, the word "slow" is used to describe the system any time it doesn't work the way it's supposed to.
"The faxes are slow" can describe anything from "the system is down for maintenance" to "it's a federal holiday." The most informational version of "the faxes are slow" is "the banks are calling to say that the faxes are slow," which means that for one reason or another, our clients are sending us faxes and they're not getting through. Either way, network support gets called and they open a support ticket which invariably gets a very low priority because "the faxes are slow" didn't sound very urgent to them. The first time this happened, we received no faxes for the better part of a week because tech support saw faxes coming in, assumed that "the faxes are slow" meant "our workload is lower than usual," and closed the support ticket without telling anybody. He or she didn't think to see if the faxes were being delivered to us because the problem was described as "slow" instead of "not coming in at all." It was only after a couple of follow-up calls from my boss that things were straightened out. Thankfully, all the faxes we hadn't been receiving were backed up somewhere, and nothing was lost. Sometimes we haven't been so lucky, and I'm absolutely convinced that the word "slow" is to blame.
Today the slowness was actually the fault of Microsoft Excel, or rather, the fault of the woman who opened fifty one copies of the same Excel worksheet, and then called network support when she couldn't get into her faxes. She was on hold when I managed to convince her to reboot her PC. It worked (duh) and she's been calling me her "knowledgeable computer guru" all day, and I find this deeply depressing.
That's just the beginning, of course. Over my lunchbreak, I had the pleasure of standing in the express lane at the grocery store behind a woman who wanted to redeem a "$1 off two boxes of Kellogg's cereal" coupon toward two boxes of Cheerios, which are made by the fine people over at General Mills. The cashier was arguing that Cheerios are not a Kellogg's product, and the woman in line was arguing that "these are the same price as the Kellogg's Cheerios, so what's the big deal?"
"Kellogg's doesn't make Cheerios," said the cashier.
"I've seen them. They're the same price. What's the difference?"
Eventually a manager came over and offered to accompany the woman to the cereal aisle where she could prove her argument. While they were gone, the guy behind me asked the cashier if she'd open up another lane to ring us up until the woman returned, but we were told that no, she couldn't do that without logging out of her current register and voiding the woman's transaction. Couldn't she simply void the woman's transaction and make her go back to the end of the line? No. He dumped his stuff out on the conveyer belt, said that he didn't need this excrement, told us where we could stick the fornicating cube steaks, and left. The woman eventually came back and bought two boxes of Rice Krispies instead.
Even with the delay, I got out of there sooner than if I had been standing in one of the other lanes.
Other than that, today has been a whole bunch of trying to figure out how to tactfully respond to angry letters. I don't get a lot of angry letters, but today I came in to a stack of about twenty of them, all of the "I didn't read the last thing you sent me, but I'm complaining about it anyway" variety. Most of these -- almost all of them -- can be answered with a simple "well if you'd read what we sent you instead of simply looking for the dollar sign at the bottom of the page, you'd see that we've credited your account instead of taking money out of it" (stated more politely, of course). There are a few, however, where I'm going to have to pass them on to somebody else. Somebody with better customer service skills who has the patience and compassion to explain the situation without losing his or her temper and sounding like a Kevin Smith movie.
On top of all this, I have a ridiculously sore throat. Offbeat practice isn't going to be fun, but I'm going since I'm sure it's allergy-related, despite all this Claritin I've been taking.
Oh, you wanted a weekend recap? Ellen and I hung out on Friday, on Saturday ribsinbacon and I filmed a promotional spot for his Weight Loss Revenge 2005 World Tour and then I went to a graduation party for jinxedkisses and Jerry (congrats to all graduates, incidentally), and on Sunday I spent some time at my parents' house, got to see my sister for a little bit, and watched Cemetery High which is a really lousy movie (like, bad enough that I wouldn't recommend it (yeah, that bad)).