Telephone Surreality

We get some odd calls at work.

Probably the oddest was a few weeks ago, when I answered the phone with the standard “GTP Internet Commerce”, only to be asked (by a rather tough sounding man who I’d guess was in his mid thirties) “Are you running buses to the Avril Lavigne concert?”.

As surreal as this seems there is a sane explanation. The geniuses (genii?) over at the Yellow pages have (for the second year running) screwed up and printed our number under the listing for an eastern states bus company, which may or may not have been running buses to the Avril Lavigne concert. We have also received calls inquiring about buses to Byron Bay, services between Melbourne and Broken Hill, and charters to the Abba inspired stage show “Mamma Mia” – the later from a woman with a voice so nasal that she could only have been from the western suburbs of Sydney.

Some of the real support calls aren’t much better though. I don’t have a problem with guiding people through stuff step by step – even I get confused now and then with some of the more complicated aspects of the system – but if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s stupidity. I don’t mean unfamiliarity with computers, or nervousness with new technology, I mean abject bone-headedness. Like this call, from a few weeks ago just after we altered the interface so the menu was across the top of the screen rather than down the left side…

ME: GTP Internet Commerce.

CLIENT (semi-panicked): Oh, hi, I was just trying to log in to the um…. website, and there’s nothing!

ME: OK, so you’ve got to the login page and out in your username and password, and nothing happens?

CLIENT: No, it lets me in, but there’s nothing there!!

ME: So when you log in, you’re not getting anything?

CLIENT: Yes, there’s nothing!

ME: Nothing at all on the screen?

CLIENT: No, there’s the manual page, but nothing else!

ME: So you can see the manual, but there’s nothing else on the screen?

CLIENT: Yes!! I can’t see the menu down the side!

ME: OK, there’s no blue bar above the manual?

CLIENT: Yes, I can see the blue bar, but there’s nothing else!

ME: Is there anything on the blue bar?

CLIENT: Well there’s ‘GTP iCommerce’ and ‘You are logged in as [username]’ but nothing else!

ME: There’s nothing below that?

CLIENT: There’s some boxes.

ME: Is there anything in them?

CLIENT: Yes, ‘iCommerce’, ‘iContact’, ‘iNews’, ‘Help’…

ME: OK, what happens when you move the mouse over the boxes?

CLIENT: Menus drop down, but that’s all! The menu isn’t on the side!

ME: OK, we’ve moved the menu from the left hand side up onto the blue bar at the top.

CLIENT: But where is it?!

ME: Those menus, they’re the same as the menu down the side.

CLIENT: Are they?

ME: Yes, roll over the first one.

CLIENT (doubtfully): OK….

ME: See, all the options from the iCommerce menu are there.

CLIENT (doubtfully): Oh, OK. Thank you. (hangs up)

ME (banging head against desk): ARRRRRGGGGGGGHGHHHHGGHGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You see what I mean? It seriously makes you wonder how some people manage to get out of bed in the morning without doing themselves some kind of serious injury.

Talking of people too mentally disadvantaged to get out of bed without assistance, Josie has finally come through and got the new cupboards installed in the bathroom. This is close on five months after Rebecca told her too. I took advantage of the fact that a new sink was being installed, and talked the workmen into unblocking the sink at the same time. So I now have a nice, functioning bathroom, and a large ex-bathroom mirror leaning against the loungeroom wall. I’m debating what to do with it. The possibility of fixing it to the bedroom ceiling and turning the place into a bordello exists of course, but it’s probably a bit small, and the Residents’ Council would almost certainly object. So it’ll probably end up getting thrown out. Just hope it’s not me doing the throwing, my luck is dodgy enough without an extra seven years of badness 😉

But on to politics.

I’m only turning to politics because there’s a fairly amusing stoush (does anyone except me ever use that word? 🙂 going on in South Australia between the State and Federal Governments over a radioactive waste dump. Canberra wants to put it on a farm in South Australia. The South Australians (understandably) don’t want a bar of this (yet another ancient phrase that no one but me ever uses :), and are trying to stop the development going through. So the Federal Government told them that if they didn’t hand over the land, it would be resumed, which is permitted under the constitution. So, the South Australian Government decided to declare the land a public park, because the legislation doesn’t allow for public parks to be resumed. At this point the Federal Government said that if the land was declared a public park, they’d cut off science funding to the state. At this point a group of South Australian scientists pointed out that the Federal Government doesn’t actually give them any funding at all, and in fact they’d been campaigning for funding from them for several years. It’s like something from Douglas Adams – I can hardly wait to see what happens next 🙂

Anyway, I suppose I’d better blog about what stupid I have been up to now that I’ve covered stupid clients, stupid property managers and stupid governments. As usual, not much. I did go up to Fabian’s place a few Saturdays ago to play my Max Schreck look alike cleric in his AD&D campaign. Playing a character with a charisma of 6 actually turned out to be pretty entertaining, particularly when I decided to make him completely paranoid. The other characters were continually irritated by his insistence on checking every room they stayed in for traps and secret panels *g*. But he’s pretty good at healing spells, which is enough to convince everyone not to do him in during the night. Particularly Michael’s character who, despite being an insanely tough half-orc, has been almost killed in every battle we’ve got ourselves into. I guess he just presents a much bigger target 🙂

I’ve also been playing a lot of Civilization III, particularly after buying the Play the World expansion pack. I finally managed a spaceship victory today, yey! In the year 1900 no less. I was playing on a huge scale map of Earth (playing as the English), and starting from Italy I ended up with an empire stretching from St Petersburg in the north, Spain in the west, Kiev in the east and south to the Congo. Throw in colonies in Australia (for uranium) and the Caribbean (for dyes) and that’s not too shoddy really. I could have taken the British Isles and Scandinavia as well, but I decided to be nice to the poor Persians and let them survive 🙂

One weird thing though is that at one point I swear my Trade Advisor said “I’m not even supposed to be here today!”. A Clerks fan in the Firaxis team perhaps? Or just a hallucination engendered from sitting in front of a computer for six hours? I guess I may never know…

Hmmmm, I’ve got a note here saying “Blog – Yes! 6!”. I know it’s to remind me to blog about something, but I have no idea what. I leave it as an exercise for my readers 🙂

OK, going to go now. Got some pasta on the stove that’s probably just about to dissolve..

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