Thursday, March 6, 2008
Tonight, Tonight I Will Slay a Tech Support Representative
Do you have suicidal or homicidal thoughts?
You must. We all do.
Every psychiatrist and psychologist poses this query about five minutes into your first session, and then purports to gauge your sanity by your response. I’ve always thought this a tragically unfair, overly broad question, especially since psychology demands nuance. My response has always been, “I want to kill myself when I can’t finish a crossword puzzle. I feel very homicidal when I watch televangelists. I want to kill Shaquille O’Neal.”
Surprise: I’m overmedicated.
If you’ve never wanted to kill anybody, you’re lying. Take it from Chris Rock, who famously announced, “If you haven’t contemplated murder, you haven’t been in love.” And you definitely haven’t toiled on a tech support call, careening through layers of misinformation in a doltish stratosphere, wondering, above all, what you’d do if you had a gun with one bullet: off yourself or the person making you feel like you're being circumcised again and again? With outsourcing on the rise—and, therefore, unintelligible instructions becoming standard—and patience on the wane, a mass murder must be just a “Hold, please” away.
Do I have suicidal or homicidal thoughts? Fuck yeah.
Yesterday, I encountered a cost-effective method for countering tech support tension: rock superstardom. After laboring through the incomprehensible penumbra that surrounds domain hosting, the woman on the line told me to hold. While I loaded a shotgun, Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” played in my ear, and I was soothed. “Tonight, Tonight” by the Smashing Pumpkins followed, as did The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony.” When the operator apologized for making me hold, I told her the waiting music rocked.
“Yes, sir, I know you’re having problems with the server.”
“Um…no…I mean…the music rocked. You guys played Zeppelin.”
“Sir, should I transfer you?”
More waiting music or more of her?
“Sure, transfer me.”
James Taylor started singing “Fire and Rain,” and the next operator interrupted the second chorus. “Piece of shit,” I said, right into the receiver.
“Excuse me, sir?”
“Nothing. Are you a James Taylor fan?”
The heavily-accented man, not wanting to insult my sensibilities—and presumably not a James Taylor fan—gave the only answer he could.
“Sir, could I have your customer ID?”
“Sure.” I gave it to him. “I just wanted to say that your waiting music is really good. Do you know anything about that?”
Three seconds of silence, then a deep breath.
“Sir, I’m not sure I understand your problem. You want to transfer your domain name?”
“Yes, but I’m just saying that the music you play over the phone is better than what other people play.” I was enunciating like a patronizing asshole, hoping to transfuse some modicum of humanity into this purgatory.
“I’m sorry sir, but you’d have to speak to my supervisor about matters like that,” he answered, in what must be construed as either a total misinterpretation of what I said or a gross dislike for singer-songwriters.
He waited for a response that never came. “Sir, I’ll help you with that domain transfer as soon as you give me your twelve-digit customer code.”
I hung up mid-call, rage coursing hot like a bruising desert sky, reduced to a misanthrope with a domain name problem. The next therapist who wants to know if I'm a potential threat to myself or others will hear about James Taylor, and they'll surely leave me plenty of psychotropics—with whose help I might wonder whether or not I'm crazy.
Stay Sonorous, Smashing Pumpkins