Wednesday, August 16, 2006
24 and over!
The following events take place over 24 Hours…and then some.
Be warned, as I write this, I am reading Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons no doubt a subtle reference to the individuals that work in the power company’s call centers…
Black Bauer wakes up and instinctively glances at his mobile phone’s screen. He left it on charge the night before. There’s just one bar of “charge”. To some this maybe regarded as progress, but not to Black. Black put it on charge because it had that one bar in the first place. This means, as you may have now deduced, that the power company has gone all out and been as shitty as everyone has come to expect.
Black is patched through to the Power Company’s call center. The female robot that answers phones everywhere thanks him for calling, (but because she is a robot, it can barely be regarded as being heartfelt) and asks him to have his account number on standby for purposes of something…
Someone, a human with the intelligence of an Ostrich egg, takes over from the robot and takes down Black’s complaint. Black for some reason actually believes this being when it claims that they will be over shortly to rectify the problem. The being then proceeds to give him a reference number so that their records show what position he occupies on the screwed up day list. He is number 245 thousand and something.
Maintaining a certain amount of humility Black says goodbye and hangs up.
He realizes it will do him no good to stay awake and wait, so he opts to sleep for the one hour it should take for the issue to be fixed.
Black wakes up with a start. It would be nice is this was because the radio had suddenly sprung to life because it’s got a new lease on life thanks to the power company. That’s not why. There is still no electricity and in a not too mysterious way, his phone hasn’t picked up some extra bars of “charge. So why is he awake? Some questions can’t be answered. Questions such as, “Does the Power Company’s equal opportunity policy spread to cover individuals unaffected by evolution?”
Black makes yet another call to the power company where he is accosted yet again albeit unsurprisingly by the robot. She proceeds to tell him to stay on the line and that he is number 5 in the queue. Robot lady doesn’t seem to give a rat’s arse about the fact that this line is not toll free.
Another being of the male variety comes to the phone taking over from robot lady. With their total disregard for the call credit being expended, Black half expects the dude to say, “Thanks love, go on with your bad robot self: before attending to him. He comes to the phone and asks for the reference number. Black gives it through gritted teeth and is assured that people have been dispatched. He is about to hang up when the person on the other end seizes the moment to take the piss, “They may have started by going somewhere else, but they will be there.”
He says the last bit in a somewhat conspiratorial way.
Black hangs up! This is no longer funny. Actually, it never was. Somewhere during their training process, the call center people must have been told to commit to memory the mantra, “If you bill them, they will come!”
There is still no sign of electricity. Then the screen goes to black. Not the screen on Black Bauer’s life, the one on his mobile. The battery has given up its fight and has died. It’s a dead battery. It has expired. It has gone on to technological heaven and has joined the choir invisible; it is an ex-battery!
Black begins to wonder how it is possible that “they” may have started by fixing someone else’s problems. He called at 0800 Hrs. He realizes that they are clearly taking him for a ride. Black will not have anyone take him for a ride . . .well, save for the taxi driver when the time comes.
He calls the power company up using some other gadget that must have been wired together by MacGyver to enable him to make calls in the Third World country. (It’s an old model Nokia, calling it a phone would be an insult to GSM technology).
Robot lady is relieved of her duties by a lady called Joselyn. Though, considering their inept inability to provide solutions, its rather likely she fed him a false name to avoid persecution when the time came.
Not content with feeding him a false name, she goes on to spin a yarn about how the guy that was sent is on his way and she is very sorry about the inconvenience.
She can’t possibly know what she is talking about, if she did, she would know she has a lot to be sorry for…
The situation has led to the following;
The cheese in the fridge going bad
The canned beef taking on a new persona and tasting like fish, which the experts have all agreed is a manifestation of bad beef.
The milk has become cultured . . . not in the sense we’d like the staff at the Power Company to, you know, become. . . Its yoghurt!
A deadline for a proposal can not be met.
The absence of pressed clothes which means that there’s a certain amount of restriction in Black’s movement.
Regular “blacking” out of Black’s mobile phone which means all sorts of important calls are being missed.
. . . and she is sorry?
Jack has a visit from a person dwelling in a land where there is no such thing as a black out. This guy has electricity on at his place and wonders how its possible that Black doesn’t. You’d wonder the same thing too if, like this guy, you happened to live in the same neighborhood as Black.
Black calls the power company and is relieved that Robot Lady has been replaced by some tacky Jazz music. Guess its her lunch break…or there was a “power-cut” and she too has expired and is in robot heaven. Black’s phone battery will have great company.
Black points out that he knows at five O’clock he will be the subject of a compulsory power cut that has been affectionately christened load shedding. SO he would really appreciate it if the person on the other end actually did her job. She is called Miriam by the way..
After being assured that the situation will be rectified at 1600hrs, Black hangs up.
Meanwhile at the call center, Miriam is insulted that someone would expect her to do her job.
Black stops in the middle of a conversation to see what time it is…he figures he will give the lobotomized chimps a shot at evolution and thereby a chance to make good on their word.
The power company’s stuff is too preoccupied with planning robot lady’s vigil and as such can not be bothered to help Black.
Black bids his friend goodbye. . .
A rather infuriated Black calls and says he wants his electricity back, he wants it back NOW! There was some mention of Angels and Demons earlier. . . The person that he deals with falls under the Angel category. She explains that she will do whatever she can, but she will not make any empty promises. She points out that the area is now under general load shedding and as such he may have to wait till tomorrow at 1700 Hrs.
She also says that if Black finds out that they have been spared the “Darkness” He should not hesitate to call her and she’ll do whatever she can.
Black Bauer goes to bed, realizing there is really nothing else he can do.
Black Bauer is woken up…no, not by the radio blaring, its by his antique phone. He is going to be visited by three (count ‘em, 3) people. They do not include The Darkness of Past, The Darkness of Present and The Darkness Yet To Come, those just happen to slither into people’s lives with no prior warning.
Black Bauer has a meeting with Destiny. It says so on his phone. He strolls down to the sin ridden area below his home (not hell, hell is where they make empty promises about restoring your electricity) and chats with his pal Destiny as his phone is charged. . .turns out it was a coma so the battery comes back to…
Black receives a call from someone over at the power company. In a clever move, he doesn’t leave a name. he wants to know whether the electricity issue is sorted out…The angel at the power company is not just an angel, she is a Saint. Bless Her!
Black gets back home and is greeted by THE DARKNESS, clearly the dude that called him earlier was trying his hand at prank calls. Not Funny!
Black goes to bed an puts his antique on charge hoping that its battery too will be salvaged from its coma.
Black wakes up and yet again is greeted by the eerie silence that is associated with death and the absence of electricity in a place it should damn well be.
Black calls the power company where he explains what the **** he is gong through and Trevor (yeah, they have taken to naming these anomalies of nature) promises he will get back to him…Its become something of a trend, a rite of passage even… “Before you are promoted to even higher levels of asinine power, you must prove that you can lie…”
Black has been trying to read Angels and Demons and its not progressing as it ought to, so he calls the power company yet again.
Robot Lady lives!
So does Asha, the female at the other end who asks Black to let her be the last…she means the last to make an empty promise… Black gives her that much.
Asha has proven to be THE LAST STRAW!
Black tries to read his Dan Brown Novel, he fails…
Black calls the power company and requests that they call him back. Wonder of wonders, they actually do.
Problem solved…for now.