A lesson in patience

  • Opinion
  • Monday, 06 Aug 2007

A recentcomputer glitchtaught me that,at times, it’sbest to keepyour cool.

MY BROADBAND connection died on me recently – for the 20th time in one day. One minute I was paying a utility bill online, and the next, my entire life savings had been transferred to Telekom Malaysia. Actually, that’s not quite true, but sometimes I get nervous when online payments get interrupted mid-transaction.

That day, I did what I usually do when I’m unceremoniously evicted from cyberspace: I jiggled the cables that are connected to my broadband modem. When this complex procedure failed to achieve the desired result, I was forced to execute plan B.

Plan B involved phoning a helpline number that has more options than I have hair on my head. Indeed, before the helpline’s recorded message had reached the last option, I’d forgotten what the first option was and had to go through the list again.

When I was finally connected to a real person, she asked me for my user ID and name. Now, Schneider isn’t a name that rolls smoothly off the tongue of the average Malaysian, so I was asked to spell it out, a task that was hampered by my Scottish accent. I tried not rolling my R’s so much, but it took numerous attempts to convince the woman manning the hotline that I was actually speaking English.

Two years later, she finally acknowledged that I was indeed one of her company’s subscribers. She then asked me to perform a complex diagnostic test that involved jiggling the cables that are connected to my modem.

When my second jiggling attempt also proved futile, I was told a technician would call me soon to make an appointment to troubleshoot my delinquent connection.

“How soon is soon?” I asked.

“Today,” said the helpline woman.

“Like, you don’t expect me to believe that!” I said to myself as I hung up the phone.

Thirty minutes later, a technician proved me wrong by calling me to make an appointment. A few hours later, he arrived on my doorstep, eerily punctual.

Mr Lim (not his real name) was a friendly man with a wide smile. More importantly, though, he managed to get me connected to the Internet again. I thanked him profusely, wished him goodbye and checked my bank balance online to make sure I still had some funds for my old age.

Two hours later, my connection was on the blink again. I called Mr Lim. Ten minutes later, he was on my doorstep, still smiling. He checked my connection again and concluded that the fault probably lay with my port thingy at the exchange place. I had no idea what he was talking about.

Half an hour later, Lim called me from wherever the exchange is located and asked me to jiggle my wires again. I had nothing good to report. It was also getting late and all that jiggling had made me tired – tired of anything to do with the Internet.

The following day, the ever-smiling Mr Lim was on my doorstep again, eager to resume his troubleshooting. After carrying out a few tests, he informed me that it looked as if my telephone line had an intermittent gloggy on the “mishle blove” – or at least that’s what it sounded like to me. He called a few colleagues, who soon arrived to carry out a series of tests on my telephone line. While we waited, I chatted with Mr Lim about his work. He told me that subscribers often take their frustrations out on him when he’s unable to solve their problems immediately.

“Sometimes, people can be verbally abusive if they have to call me back for a second time.”

“How do you cope with that?” I asked, feeling relieved that I’d managed to keep my cool so far.

“I try to explain to them that my work often involves a process of elimination before I can get a consistent connection, but they don’t want to listen. They are very quick to tell me I’m not doing my job properly and that my company stinks.”

“That must be tough.”

“Yes. In fact, I’m surprised you weren’t angry with me when you had to call me back for a second look. That’s why I returned as quickly as I could.”

I began to feel guilty for all the times I’d been a bit curt with people like Mr Lim in the past.

Two hours later, I had a new telephone cable and was connected to the Internet again.

As I said goodbye to Mr Lim for what I hoped would be the last time, he thanked me for my patience. How’s that for service?

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