Lifeline. A part-time job that can take over your life and suck out your soul if you let it. Mostly I love it, and if it just brought a small amount more money in, I’d probably not still be seeking the open road. There are days when I actually do ‘make a difference’ and days when I happily revisit favourite people. Like the young lady from Bosnia, who arrived in Canada as a refugee and is the sunniest, most dancing-about-for-joy person I have ever met. She narrowly escaped the Srebrenica massacre and spent most of the war in a refugee camp. As a Type 1 diabetic, she faced more challenges than most. “It’s hard to manage diabetes in a camp” and she giggled as she told me this. That was when she went blind. Deeper damage was done then too, but it is only now that we know she needs a kidney transplant. Despite all this she cheers up my week, when I pop in to swap a battery in her Lifeline loudspeaker or replace a lost button.
But then there are days like today. It is a long weekend in Canada. Victoria Day to be precise. The entire country goes nuts with parties and fireworks to celebrate the old vandal’s birthday, and the culture shock involved in trying to tell people that nobody in the UK cares in the slightest for Queen Victoria should form the basis for another blog.
Now here is my question. Why do people wait until a nice long weekend to moan about things that have been going wrong for ages? We offer an immediate service for faulty machinery. The lady I went to this morning had not been able to call her cousin for 3 days. Clearly the Lifeline telephone was broken. I dashed over, called her cousin on my cellphone and hey presto, her cousin’s phone line is down. I called myself from the client’s phone. It worked.
“But nobody has called me for 3 days.”
“Who normally calls you?”
“My cousin phones every evening.”
“Your cousin’s phone is broken, not yours, I just called you.”
I called Lifeline from her phone, they called her back. I called my home and my cell, we called her from me and me from her for about an hour. Eventually I had her convinced that the phone was fine. So she tested it by calling her cousin. “There’s still a funny noise.”
I got home to spend a little time on happy homely pursuits but it wasn’t to be. Another callout. Another phone not working. I was there within 10 minutes of the complaint, which even by our exacting standards is pretty damned impressive. This phone had not been working for 2 weeks. The subscriber was furious that his phone had been broken that long.
“When did you let us know it wasn’t working?”
I got to work tracing wires etc, sometimes people roll wheelchairs over extension cables and they gradually break down. I traced this one back to a cable modem.
“When did you switch your phone from Bell to Rogers?”
“About 2 weeks ago.”
“Do you remember us telling you not to convert to cable phones because our equipment doesn’t work with them?”
I spent about an hour there too, finally rigging up a patched system from a half-wired wall jack to make sure he could use his emergency button even though the phone would have to wait for him to switch back again.
Did anyone thank me for turning out on a holiday weekend to fix their own stupidity? Don’t be silly Carolyn, nobody ever thanked you for turning up in an ambulance on Christmas Day for a tummy ache they’d had all week, so what on earth makes you think people have changed?
I remember why the open road appeared so attractive. The applications to trucking companies continue.