Yesterday I wrote briefly about how my oven suddenly wasn't working RIGHT as I was getting ready to cook and bake for my Dad's 85th birthday. I kind of figured out (after consulting the internet and the owner's manual and calling the Sears Blue Crew) that the igniter wasn't working and needed to be replaced. That was all on Thursday. I set up an appointment for someone to come out and handle the repair between 8 and 12 Friday morning.
I spent Thursday doing the chopping for the pasties and whatever other prepwork could be done a day ahead of time.
And I made one of the desserts, which, ordinarily would have been done in the oven, but I figured out a way to do it on top of the stove, and YAY, it worked.
Sorry – I'm still not posting that yet. This post is just about the oven.
Anyway, Friday morningI woke up with a mild headache, but I figured that was from chopping like a maniac the day before, and I figured it would go away after some caffeine and a repaired stove. I got busy cleaning the floor and cleaning the area around the oven – and clearing off the counters – just so the repair guy would have space to work. I had to zip around and clean the main floor of the house anyway, so this wasn't a huge issue.
Bill headed off for work, I typed yesterday's post, and at 8:00 on the dot, my phone rang. It was someone named, coincidentally, Robert (my Dad's name) and he introduced himself as the repairman who would be coming out to service the oven. He had one other job before mine, and he figured he'd arrive around 9:30, but said "let's say between 9 and 10," and I said great.
Yay! Between 9 and 10! And then I'd be free to get back to work!
I didn't really need the interior of the stove until later, but there were some things I needed to do ahead of dinner on top of the stove, things I hadn't done the day before, but I didn't want to use the stove at all until it was fixed. Not because I was worried anything would go wrong, but because I didn't want the repairman to burn his hand or melt any equipment.
I brought Alex to school and came home, did the dishes, IM'd back and forth a bit with my sister, straightened up the dining room, and basically killed time waiting for Robert-the-tech to arrive.
At 9:00 the phone rang again. It was Robert, calling to let me know that he'd just been told (presumably by his dispatcher) that someone else had been assigned to handle my repair – someone closer than wherever Robert was – and I should receive a call from this other guy soon. Robert was incredibly polite, and I thanked him for calling to let me know.
The area around my right eye began to throb a bit harder.
I cleaned the bathroom. I swept the stairs. I swept the floors. I vented to my sister. I ate a piece of toast.
At 10:00 I called the Sears Blue Crew 800 number and spoke to a woman whose name I didn't write down. She was very polite and kind, even though she didn't sound entirely like she knew what she was talking about. I told her about the phone calls, and told her that I just wanted to make sure that my service order was still slated for somewhere between 8 and 12, and hadn't just fallen by the wayside once it was pulled from Robert. She assured me that I was still on the docket for the 8-12 time slot, and not to worry, that they'd reassigned me to someone who would do a better job. I didn't think the better job aspect was accurate – it sounded like something she was saying to try to make me (the presumably harried housewife, or whatever she thought I was) feel reassured. I ignored that part and thanked her for her help, and told her I appreciated how polite everyone had been so far, and that Robert had called to tell me when he was pulled from my job, and I mentioned that I'd worked in customer service in one form or another for most of my working life, and I know how upsetting it is to people when the DON'T get appropriate phone calls. We chatted a bit about that, and then she asked if I had an email address I would like to give her. I asked why, and she said she wanted to send me a coupon good for $10.00 off my next Sears purchase. So I gave her our home email address and thanked her and felt a little better.
And I waited for the phone to ring. I tried to eat something else, but food was starting to make me nauseous.
At 10:35 (yes, I took note of the time) my cell phone rang. The number that showed up had a 508 area code. Massachusetts. Hmmmm. I answered. The man on the other end introduced himself as Dave, a Sears repairman, and he told me he'd just found out he's been assigned to my job. He wanted to give me a call right away because he had two jobs ahead of mine – both of which were in JOHNSTON (I'm in Warwick, which is at least half an hour away) and he saw that my job was supposed to be taken care of between 8 and 12, and he didn't know that he'd be able to get to my house before noon. He was very apologetic, and I said I knew it was not his fault and I appreciated his phone call. I asked him to please just give me a call when he had a better idea of what time he'd arrive.
Head pounding? Check!
I waited five minutes, and then I called the 800 number again. I spoke to a woman named Brianna, who I couldn't hear very well for some reason. Her voice sounded muffled, which only added to my growing frustration. I gave her my phone number and last name so she could look up the work order, and then I gave her the breakdown of all the phone calls I'd had or made so far, and what the situation was now, and I told her that I didn't understand why my job, originally scheduled with someone who was going to do it between 9 and 10 had gotten switched over to someone who wasn't going to get to it until AFTER 12:00 AND who was certainly NOT close by, seeing as he was way the heck up in JOHNSTON. I wasn't yelling. I was just emphasizing certain words more than others. And I didn't say "the heck" either. I just didn't see how it made sense, and I told her that it was my father's 85th birthday and that I'm cooking dinner for everyone and I'd really been counting on the job being done in the morning….
I was doing my very best not to lose it.
The headache wouldn't go away. My oven wasn't fixed. People would be arriving at 4:30. My original tech was reassigned. The new tech probably wouldn't arrive til who-knows-when after twelve. TICK TICK TICK. Yes, if push came to shove, other arrangements could be made. But. They'd SAID my oven would be fixed between 8 and 12. (Or at least that the repairman would arrive within that time frame) and now it wasn't going to happen. I was getting worried that my service order was just going to keep getting bumped further and further along until it rolled over into the next day.
During all of this, I was very conscious of the fact that the people on the phone were basically just…people on the phone. I've worked for a national moving company. I've been on their end of the phone when, for example, the driver of their moving truck was supposed to arrive between 8 and 10 in the morning and it's 10:30 and no one is there and no one has called and the customer has to be out of her home by the end of the day so the new owner can move in the next morning, and WHERE IS THE DRIVER??? AND WHY DIDN'T HE CALL??? And it's been my job to make calls and find out where the driver is, why he's late, and, sometimes, why he didn't call. It's not a job I really ever loved. I think the most frustrating part of it was that I had no control in what was happening. I was just…the person on the phone. At least that's how it felt at times. Moving is an incredibly stressful event in a person's life, and the driver showing up late doesn't set the tone for a good move. People would be stressed and angry and sometimes they'd take it out on me. The person on the phone. You know what? It sucked. It was not for me. It was great when I could help people, but it was the worst feeling when I couldn't get any information, or the only information I could get was something the customer didn't want to hear. Yuck. Or sometimes I'd be dealing with the sort of person who figures the louder they yell, or the more threatening they became (these were corporate moves – people would threaten us with "I'm going to let the account know about this!!!!!!!!!) the more likely things would be to go in their favor. And sometimes it would work, which always irritated me, because I never saw the point in rewarding behavior in an adult that I wouldn't permit in my children. If my child has a temper tantrum, I don't give them ice cream. You know? But that was the way it went sometimes.
So, all of this was present in my consciousness every time I was on the phone. I was determined not to be one of those stressed, angry people. I would be polite and I would not get worked up or become too wordy. I would stick to the bare bones, the main points, and I would not yell. I would be firm, but I would not be a bitch. That was my goal. My OTHER goal. The goal IN ADDITION TO the goal of getting a working oven. ASAP.
Where was I? Oh, yes. So anyway, Person on the Phone #2, Brianna, asked if she could put me on hold for a moment, and I said of course. Several minutes later she was back to let me know, in her muffled voice, that she had left a message for (mumble mumble which i assume was their equivalent of a dispatch department) asking that they reassign my job to the original guy and "You will be getting a phone call."
"When?" I asked. I was getting tired of phone calls. Did I mention my head hurt?
"Soon." She said.
I looked at the clock – quarter to eleven. I wondered what "soon" meant where she was.
She asked me if there was anything else she could do for me today, and I said nothing, and I thanked her for her help. And she asked me if I owned my own home.
Now, I have to back up for a moment and tell you that when I called the day before to set up the appointment, right at the end of the call, the guy on the phone asked if we owned our own home. And I said yes, and he said they were running a free home improvement estimate and would I like to make an appointment to have someone come out and give us a quote. I said no thanks, we're pretty much do-it-yourselfers with the home improvement stuff – everything except gas appliances. And that was that.
So fast forward back to my conversation with Brianna. Do I own my own home? Yes. "Would you like to – " No, thanks. I wouldn't.
Off the phone again. I'd cut out the puff pastry circles I needed. I'd cut out small apple rings and had them soaking in acidulated (with lemon juice) water. I had cleaned. I had made lists. I had taken a few pictures of things as I prepped them. I still needed to make the dough for the pasties. And I'd need to bring Julia to school soon. And I should eat, but nothing appealed to me.
I watched the clock. TICK, TICK, TICK.
Behind my eyes? THROB, THROB, THROB.
At 11:05 I started wondering what the definition of "soon" really was.
At 11:30 I decided that my definition had to be VASTLY different from the definition posted on the wall of the Sears Blue Crew office.
Somewhere, deep down inside, I knew my service order had not been switched anywhere. First of all, it would make no sense to move me back to the first guy because it was already well after ten when I called and spoke to Brianna and that ship had already sailed. Who knew where he was at this point? But still…I'd wanted to believe. I'd wanted to go back in time to when Robert the Repairman first called and my oven was going to be repaired before twelve….
By this point, I was annoyed. I was frustrated. My head was pounding. My hands were shaking (low blood sugar, most likely), and I felt very unlike myself. I felt like Laura Petrie right before an "Oh Rob!" wail. Somehow, everything had reached crisis proportions, and I had a tough time reminding myself that things could be far, far worse in my silly little world.
In this mentally deficient state, I picked up the phone, dialed that too-familiar 800 number once again, and a gentleman named – more irony in my day – William answered. While the first two people on the phone sounded a bit sympathetic…or earnest, at least, William sounded like he either didn't like his job at all or had just had a horrible conversation just before he answered my call. Or maybe that was just his personality. I don't know.
Anyway, I gave him my number and name so he could pull up whatever notes were in there from my previous calls. He noted that a message had been sent over to (somethingsomethingsomething). I told him that that had been nearly an hour ago, I'd been told I'd get a call soon, and I hadn't heard from anyone thus far. This failed to impress. And yes, I started to lose my grip. I trotted out my dad's birthday party, his age, the people coming to dinner, and - my voice started cracking. I was going to cry. On the phone. Dammit. I was going to shed great shiny Laura Petrie tears and I was talking to the WRONG Willam. And I was also, I admit, drawing (unintentionally) on the frustration I'd felt in the past at my job at the moving company. Anger that I was stuck talking to THE PERSON ON THE PHONE who had no control and no power (like me, back in the day) over what was happening. I was powerless, here in my kitchen with my headache hammering behind my eyes, and this Person On the Phone (me in a former incarnation) was just as powerless in his cubicle with his headset on and a computer screen in front of him.
I blamed the dispatch department. I did. It just bubbled out out of my cracking, warbling Laura Petrie voice and I babbled on about how the people who MADE the decision to change me to a different repairman would NEVER get on the phone because THEY NEVER talk to the customer. I also asked, in a snarly voice I'm not proud of, if someone would still get to my house TODAY? BEFORE 3?
I was in an emotional hurricane, trying to cling to the tattered edges of my sanity as they flapped and snapped in the wind.
William put me on hold. Wise move.
When he got back on the phone, he informed me that the repairman would be at my house as soon as he finished the job he was currently on. In Johnston. I knew it. They hadn't changed repairmen. Of course not. And for logistical reasons that would make perfect sense if I was anyone other than the overwrought, defeated, shaky-voiced creature I was at that moment.
Resigned to my fate, I gathered up a few bits of dignity that still clung, like lint, to my emotional rags, and said thank you. I didn't feel thankful, honestly. I felt like sobbing and yelling incoherently, actually. But I didn't. I just said thank you.
And William said I was welcome, and then, suddenly, his voice perked up, and he asked, "Do you own your own home?"
I knew it would be funny to me eventually.
"I am not interested in any coupons or free estimates, thank you." I said.
And he said he hoped I had a great day.
Uh-huh. Sure you do. Sniff.
At that point there was nothing left to do but continue on, and wait for that call. I packed Julia a snack for school, brushed her hair, and dropped her off. It did me some good just to get out of the house and interact with some of the other moms. And then, right as I got back into the truck, my cell phone rang. It was the 506 area code. Dave. My repairman. He told me he was at the second job in Johnston, and that it should only take about 15-20 minutes and then he'd be on his way to my house. He hoped to arrive by 1:00. And, kind soul that he was, he apologized that it was going to be so late. I thanked him sincerely and said it wasn't his fault. And I drove home. And I felt a wee bit better.
I got home and updated my sister and…what did I do at that point? I don't even remember. I might have made the dough for the pasties. Maybe I got out plates and flatware. Who knows. I felt kind of…worn out.
Dave arrived at 1:10. An older man (well, older than me) with a kind smile. I felt that Laura Petrie wail bubbling up again. But I shook it off.
I told him what had been happening with the oven, and he agreed that it sounded like the igniter, and then he told me what the job would cost, approximately. Parts + labor. And it was rather higher than the number I'd expected based on my phone call the day before. My phone call where I got prices of things before making this appointment. Turns out the woman who had quoted me the cost of the igniter only knew how to look up prices, but she didn't know that when the repairmen replace that part they ALSO replace the burner that goes along with it. And, of course, the burner costs money, too.
I had to laugh. It wasn't going to break the bank. And it needed to be done. And I was past caring. I just wanted my oven to work. So I gave the go-ahead and he went and got the parts out of his truck.
The replacement itself went pretty quickly, and during that time we ended up chatting about cats. He and his wife currently have four feral kittens that were left on their doorstep by the mother, who refused to be caught. They've also got two outdoor cats – males – that he suspects are the father and maybe grandfather of these four kittens. I told him about Blur, he told me about cats his daughter had, and pretty soon my oven was plugged back in, and on, and the oven came on without a hitch. I paid, and thanked Dave, and he was on his way.
And then I called my mother back (she'd called twice) and told her the quick version of this whole hideous nightmare, and I laughed and laughed because by that point I think I was just so glad my oven worked that I was becoming hysterical with relief.
I did a littl more prep work for the other dessert, and then I picked up the kids at school. And Bill arrived home while I was doing that. And I started telling him the story and didn't think he was all that impressed with the UTTER AND COMPLETE TRAUMA I had experienced and then, yes, I did shed Laura Petrie tears. And I got a much-needed hug.
And then I made dinner.
And my sister and my nephew arrived…and my parents arrived…and my brother-in-law and my niece arrived…and food was cooked, and food was devoured.
And I think my Dad had a happy birthday.
And that was really the only thing that mattered, in the long run.