Saturday, May 22, 2010

Don't they know it's Saturday?

Lifeline. A part-time job that can take over your life and suck out your soul if you let it. Mostly I love it, and if it just brought a small amount more money in, I'd probably not still be seeking the open road. There are days when I actually do 'make a difference' and days when I happily revisit favourite people. Like the young lady from Bosnia, who arrived in Canada as a refugee and is the sunniest, most dancing-about-for-joy person I have ever met. She narrowly escaped the Srebrenica massacre and spent most of the war in a refugee camp. As a Type 1 diabetic, she faced more challenges than most. "It's hard to manage diabetes in a camp" and she giggled as she told me this. That was when she went blind. Deeper damage was done then too, but it is only now that we know she needs a kidney transplant. Despite all this she cheers up my week, when I pop in to swap a battery in her Lifeline loudspeaker or replace a lost button.

But then there are days like today. It is a long weekend in Canada. Victoria Day to be precise. The entire country goes nuts with parties and fireworks to celebrate the old vandal's birthday, and the culture shock involved in trying to tell people that nobody in the UK cares in the slightest for Queen Victoria should form the basis for another blog.

Now here is my question. Why do people wait until a nice long weekend to moan about things that have been going wrong for ages? We offer an immediate service for faulty machinery. The lady I went to this morning had not been able to call her cousin for 3 days. Clearly the Lifeline telephone was broken. I dashed over, called her cousin on my cellphone and hey presto, her cousin's phone line is down. I called myself from the client's phone. It worked.
"But nobody has called me for 3 days."
"Who normally calls you?"
"My cousin phones every evening."
"Your cousin's phone is broken, not yours, I just called you."
I called Lifeline from her phone, they called her back. I called my home and my cell, we called her from me and me from her for about an hour. Eventually I had her convinced that the phone was fine. So she tested it by calling her cousin. "There's still a funny noise."

I got home to spend a little time on happy homely pursuits but it wasn't to be. Another callout. Another phone not working. I was there within 10 minutes of the complaint, which even by our exacting standards is pretty damned impressive. This phone had not been working for 2 weeks. The subscriber was furious that his phone had been broken that long.
"When did you let us know it wasn't working?"
"Just now."
I got to work tracing wires etc, sometimes people roll wheelchairs over extension cables and they gradually break down. I traced this one back to a cable modem.
 "When did you switch your phone from Bell to Rogers?"
"About 2 weeks ago."
"Do you remember us telling you not to convert to cable phones because our equipment doesn't work with them?"
I spent about an hour there too, finally rigging up a patched system from a half-wired wall jack to make sure he could use his emergency button even though the phone would  have to wait for him to switch back again.
Did anyone thank me for turning out on a holiday weekend to fix their own stupidity? Don't be silly Carolyn, nobody ever thanked you for turning up in an ambulance on Christmas Day for a tummy ache they'd had all week, so what on earth makes you think people have changed?

I remember why the open road appeared so attractive. The applications to trucking companies continue.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hurry up and wait...

Yes, I know, no news.

To my eternal shame, I failed the Schneider fitness test, on the very last exercise. I did all the waving 30lbs over your head and hoisting baskets full of weights all over the place, but couldn't quite push 80lbs with a stupid bar attached to a couple of ropes. Apparently the ability to push a mere 78lbs makes one a dodgy trucker. There was much grumpy licking of wounds and ranting about the unfairness of things in general, and a major sulk. Especially since I had kitted myself out with a natty new flashlight thingumybob that sits on the brim of a baseball cap...all ready for those midnight vehicle checks. So, the applications still flow out, a couple of nibbles from companies who 'might be hiring soon' but nothing in the long-haul line just yet.

In the meantime, it's back to Lifeline, the standby that always seems to be pleased to have me back. And plenty of driving, even if it is back to the four-wheeler. Yesterday, a 300km round trip up into Grey-Bruce country, just to change a faulty handset on a brand spanking new Lifeline cordless telephone. This new piece of kit has been causing us all some angst recently, it's a fabulous addition to the range of equipment we install for people along with their 'I've fallen and I can't get up' button. It's got everything we've been asking Lifeline to invent for ages, and it hasn't got all the things we hated about the previous incarnation. It's just falling down a bit on the old quality control front, which means a lot of rushing about with replacement handsets.

The drive was sublime, through Mennonite farming country past all manner of horses and buggies, past all those 'Quilts, Ducks, Plants, Honey, No Sunday Sales' signs that remind me where I live. Unmarked roads, unmade roads, gravel tracks and a tiny Tim Horton's in the middle of nowhere. I felt obliged to stop for a bagel and a small cafe mocha, it's the Canadian thing to do.

The house, when I found it, was tucked away in an overgrown garden full of trees. I was greeted by a friendly dog and a lady who thanked me very prettily for making it all the way out there. This seemed very nice of her considering I was there to replace a brand new piece of equipment. We had a chat about this and that and generally made friends. I drove home happily round the farms and fields, looking forward to the time of year when bunches of flowers appear at the farm gates, complete with honesty boxes for you to pay what you like. I like it when there are sunflowers, but don't usually stop for gladdies.

Arriving home a little tired, I checked my messages before keeling over in front of the telly. Gadzooks! A lost button in Kitchener! About turn, back out of the door in superhero guise to make sure that another subscriber is safe before bedtime. Sometimes I love this job. Sometimes I hate it. The trucking applications will continue.