I have this little job. Four hours a day, Monday through Friday.
I thought that when I retired I wouldn’t be working anymore, but that was before the gaffer – an English term for “the boss” – laid down the law.
Work or die.
I’m afraid of the gaffer, so I went back to work.
The job really isn’t so little. The company for which I work, is a regional healthcare conglomerate with bunch of offices and hospitals and about 13,000 employees. I work the Help Desk, which is laughable because I can barely help myself.
We get dozens and dozens and dozens of calls a day about broken computers, broken printers, broken phones. No broken bones, but lots of other broken stuff. I handle voicemails and emails in the mornings because I’m not good on the phones. Apparently, “What the hell do you want you dithering idiot,” isn’t considered good customer service. Go figure.
Many days, I have to be a detective, along the lines of Noah Greene, the protagonist of my three mystery novels, “Tears in the Rain,” “Tears of God,” and “My Grave Is Deep.” The voicemail prompt asks the caller to leave their name, their employee ID, their location, their computer number, a working callback number, and what they ate for breakfast.
Often, the caller rattles off, “Hi, this is Rita, my computer’s broken, call me back, bye, waffles,” and then forget to hang up the phone, so that the vm, which stands for voicemail for those of you who don’t know healthcare lingo, is a daunting 200 minutes long.
Other times, the caller leaves a message that Einstein couldn’t decipher.
“Yeah, I’m calling about the paresthesia isn’t showing up on the obdormition and the sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia is causing an issue with the fasciculation of the heloma durum. Can you tell me how to fix it?”
Anyway, every Friday I need to do a timecard for my little job. I put a recurring reminder in my phone because as I’ve grown older, I forget things, like remembering to put on socks and underwear in the morning.
The other day, I finished my shift and my phone dinged with the reminder. I got up and went to get my personal computer to fill out my timecard. Got sidetracked because I had to pee. Came out to the kitchen and thought, “I’m thirsty,” and got myself a Diet Coke. Took two sips and went back to pee. Came back to the kitchen, saw that the floor needed sweeping and went to the garage to get a broom and dustbin. Saw the front lawn sprinkler start running and stood for 15 minutes watching it. Went back into the house to pee. Tried to recall what it was I was supposed to be doing. It’s in your phone, I told myself. Went looking for my phone. Passed some cookies on the counter and ate one. Then two. Then three. Washed them down with my Diet Coke and then had to … you know. Came back out, thought, “What?” Oh, the phone. Where is it? I know, I’ll call the gaffer and have her call my phone. Yes, I actually thought that. Followed by, “How are you going to call the gaffer if you don’t know where your phone is?” Passed the cookies again. Ate one. Then two. Then three. Went to find a broom to sweep up the crumbs that had fallen from the cookies. Decided I should go see a movie.
On Monday, I got a call from my other gaffer, the one I’m not afraid of.
He didn’t sound happy.
“Where’s your timecard?”