My mother used to say something like, “Don’t hang your dirty laundry for all the world to see.” I never knew exactly what that meant but assumed I should keep shady little secrets to myself. Of which I didn’t really have any. But I did have feelings. Strong ugly scratchy feelings that lurked low in my gut. I thought I could keep that dirty laundry to myself.
Those feelings though, they’re messy and often uncontainable. They drip out when I don’t even know it. Like when I’m on the phone for what seems like forever with some anonymous guy somewhere across the world.
The Verizon Tech Support guy is trying to talk me through getting back my lost internet connection. Only I don’t know the difference between a modem and a browser. And I can’t find the blasted yellow-bell icon or the folder of applications. Suddenly the downloads are flying in a line across the screen like a clothesline of tiny white sheets in a breeze.
The tech says, “Put the yellow-bell icon in the folder, ma’am,” and I lose the icon. I lose my reserve. When I finally figure it out he says, “The ten minutes have expired, ma’am,” and then we have to go through the whole process again with a new code and a different password. And I cry but don’t dare let him know that I’m wiping tears that drip from my hot face onto the keyboard. We’ve been at this for hours.robin botie having a bad day online with Verizon tech support
“Are you there?” I ask frantically. “Are you still there?” There is silence. And then I hear choking, a sob, and sniffling over the phone. “Are you laughing or crying,” I boldly ask in a timid voice. He coughs.
“You are absolutely right, ma’am,” he says in his exotic accent that half the time I don’t understand and have to pipe up to interrupt and beg pardon.
“Excuse me? Excuse me? I’m sorry, can you say that again more slowly please?” Now the technician apologizes, says he is transferring me to his manager. I manage a small, “Well, thank you for your patience,” with a question mark at the end. And then there is a new voice on the line. And a new window is up on the screen and it won’t accept my old password. And in less than two minutes this new manager hangs up on me.
“Are you there? Are you still there?”
After sitting for a while in shock and shame, I fool around with where I’ve been left, with a million windows open on the computer. I enter a new password just for the hell of it, because I’m shot now and there’s not much left to lose.
And in very little time I’m back online. Still stunned, I decide to try something else I never do. On Facebook I post a photo of myself tearing my hair out in front of a tree. It looks a bit like Edvard Munch’s painting, “The Scream.” And then I air my dirty laundry to my whole internet world: “I just spent hours on the phone with Verizon Tech Support and I’m miserable.” But I don’t say I made the poor guy cry.
What gets you to give up and give out?