Aging Accomplishment

BEEEP!!!

….How may I assist you today?

“I have a question for you? Is there was any reason a phone could not be used in Canada. I know it will be in roaming and would charge but couldn’t it still be used there?”

I assured the person on the other end of the phone it could.. I told her yes and that we  even had a plan to make it cheaper if she wanted to use it there.  She was not interested in that info. She would suffer the price of the charges that wasn’t a problem. She said she had a phone and they were trying to connect and it wouldn’t connect to the network.

I told her I would have to actually look at the account to see what was preventing the phone from making a call.

She seemed a bit reluctant at first about telling me who she was and the info for me to get into the account.. I seen the famous name on the account and understood her bit of reluctance.

After a quick look at the account which was up to date and paid. It showed the line was active. I knew by deduction it had to be a phone setting. The phone had to be in the ‘in-network only’ setting.

I told her I could easily walk her through the settings and fix it..  She was very hesitant now. sighing heavily. “I don’t know if that will work”  She didn’t seem very keen on the prospect and then explained further.

 She had a person on the computer IMing her that was in Canada and could not figure out why her phone would not call out.

She then explained the person on the other end of the phone was an 80 year old woman. She was not very confident that I could give easy enough directions for her to pass on through an IM to the other person without adding to that person’s frustration.

It would be like the old game of telephone. I say one thing and it is passed to the next person who then interprets it and sends it on etc..
 
In this case the second party, between us, was the computer.

I had to give directions to her for her to pass on to an 80 year old woman on the other end of an IM.  She was already put off due to the woman on the other side of the computers abrupt and sometimes lashing words due to things not working right.

The woman on the other side of the computer basically had nothing but annoyance for the technology and the phone not working. She didn’t know how to make it work or even how to get into the settings. She was totally uneducated about cell phones.

I had to explain how to do it to a person, who would then translate what I was telling her. It had to be simple enough terms on how to go into multiple menus of the phone, into the settings, scrolling to find the right category and choose the right option to let her phone know it was okay for her to make roaming calls in Canada.   (There must be a inprov skit in here some where.) 

 I was certain I can get her phone fixed, despite the woman on the phones lack in belief that it would be a possible feat.  She seemed through most of the call sort of a combination of annoyed and amused at the same time.   It was as  if she couldn’t believe there was any chance we could do it, and even attempting it was reaching for us to consider it. To her she could see  no way we could explain to an 80 year old woman how to conquer her cell phone through IM’s on a computer. 

It was a challenge to me to make the steps short and simple enough to not have the older woman just give up in frustration as many would.  Older people SHOULD win the war with technology sometimes..

I got her in the menu but she got into the wrong place right off. Probably a fingernail slip with the small keys.  So she had to turn the phone off and back on. It was easier than trying to find and explain where the back button was.

  I just want to mention this woman also had a very small minute plan, the smallest we offer.  So it was very seldom that she even used her phone to make a call to start with. Total cell phone newbie.

 By this time I am realizing who this person on the other side of the computer was. A real icon. someone who as survived the test of time in the show business industry.

“Oh, I don’t think this is going to work she can’t do this. I don’t know why she wants to do this. Couldn’t she just  have someone else do this for her?” she said talking aloud to more to herself than to me.

“Sure we can do it.. It’s pretty easy.. I’ll walk her through it. We can do this..” The whole time the woman is just talking and thinking about a very old person vs ‘the machine’.

Let’s face it some old people get a bad rap.  Older people just like to think in a simpler fashion. After all technology is supposed to make life easier… right?

While we were waiting for her to reboot her phone I mentioned to the woman on the other end of the phone that this is an older  woman that is savvy enough to be IMing her her through a computer.. “She can do it”

I had been waiting for the proper moment to tactfully work into the conversation a question on if this woman on the other end of the computer was the actress herself.   I finally found the perfect time and way to ask. I immediately went back to the business at hand cause that really had no influence on the situation one way or another. if it was the actress/comedian of a famous duo.

I think of this woman as the strong spunky woman she has always portrays in her acting. I know I am looking at her as the character but when a person plays a certain type of character again and again that is such a strong individual with moxie, she would have to have a bit of that persona in her own self.

To me she seemed to be the type of person who would think:   I pay for this stupid phone every month and never use it and the one time I want to use it it doesn’t work. I’m going to make it work. And THEN I’m going to throw it out the window.

I was determined for her to get that chance. (of course hoping she would choose to use the phone a bit more rather than destroy it.)After all, then she will have conquered the technology beast and the victory would be hers.

“She’s never going to be able to do this.” The pessimistic person on the other side of my ear piece stated.  It just made me more determined. I could feel her tensing every time I told her the next step type her to take.. I kept it  simple with as descriptive wording as I could. We did it one step at a time. Keeping the instructions to good text message, one liner size.

The lady on the phone was just waiting for that wrong button push and then having to start all over again or to have to try to pacify an older person’s broken spirit if she did not succeed.

“I feel like I am talking to a 2 year old.” she half joked.  I  teased her that it was too bad she doesn’t have access to a 10 year old. I made mention of how kids take to technology quickly. She giggled in agreement of my statement. Phone re-boots can be alot of professional fill in chit-chat time these days.

I mentioned that my mom had trouble with all the cell phone technology too. So she knew she was not the only one who had to go through this. It gives people comfort to know they are not alone in the struggles in life.

“I don’t know why she didn’t just ask someone to do it for her. She has plenty of people there that can do those things. Jerry is right there too… Jerry could do it.”  She again spoke aloud more to herself than to me. She still seemed slightly amused, yet still slightly annoyed with the older woman.

I knew what was happening on the other side of that computer. There was  the determination of a lady with spunk and still full of life.  She WAS going to get this thing. She wanted to make it work without asking people with her to make it work for her. 

I gave her the one step at a time. Each time I was met with the same thing. “She’ll never get it” again her nearly defeated amused voice came.  I could almost see her shaking her head in the disbelief each time we made it to the step.

“If she gets this one, there is only one more step and she’ll have it made. I have my fingers crossed for you just in case.” I teased. I knew by clicking the wrong way she could end up back at square one again.. Patience was persevering.

She still had no faith in either of us; the determined lady on the other side of the computer or me.  ” How’s she doing? Is she there?”

“She’s there. I can’t believe it.. she IS doing it” I walked her through the last step. I explained how to highlight the last corrected setting.
“Okay.  She’s got it..”
“See we did it!” I exclaimed happily. “Now, tell her to turn the phone off and back on again and to try and make a call”

“She did it.. I can’t believe it” she still seemed very surprised. I could still almost see her shaking her head in disbelief.

 Now my tension mounted a bit. It is always the best part of the call when you actually get to the last step of troubleshooting something and get to see if you got the problem solved and everything is as it should be.

There is always that long dramatic pause while you are waiting for the phone to turn on again. Then when it is back on you have to wait again to see if the phone can make the call. 

The other phone in the ladies office rang and she said hold a moment.. “It’s her on the phone…”  Again, I could sense she was fearing the worst. Waiting for the verbal out lash at technology.. Suddenly she burst out laughing. The woman from the other side of the computer was happy as well as the lady I was talking with..

Obviously, conquering technology was a good feeling for her by the belly laughs I was hearing from my end of things. She came back on the phone still laughing hard. I asked if she got a call to go through. She told me she was calling her from that phone right now.

Still quite amused she laughed and told me “she said she is going to get rid of this phone when she gets back.” I could tell by her amusement she was joking when she said it. 

“Well, I hope not, we got it working for her now.” I knew they were both  teasing with me.

As I went to the close the call she still laughing half talking to both of us. she said “Thank-you for all your help and patience with us.” she ended the call and was gone. 

She knew calling from out of the country was time and money and she had a happy 80 year old women using her new conquered technology to talk to her.  There was celebration of  a battle won to be discussed… along with other things I am sure.

It was a good call.  I had resolved the customer’s issue and everything had a happy ending. I felt I had given a small gift of knowledge to an icon I had watched on and off and laughed with all my life.  There was a wonderment in a person that thought something couldn’t be done and a feeling a accomplishment for a person winning the battle with technology.

And best of all… in this case we all had the last laugh..

A Brush With Faith

When I was younger I lived what most people would say was a pretty sinful life.. I grew up in the 70′s and was in my 20′s in the 80′s. I was on my own.  Drugs and sex were abundant . Being mixed up about the difference between sex and love and adding in my low self esteem and bouts of depression I was lonely mess of a partying person.. Sometimes I think if it wasn’t for the pot and my strange brand of friends I would not have made it through.  But that is another story.. This sets the back drop for my story.

As with most people you have that one friend who is a “baby Christian” the person that is new to religion and is so excited they are able to pull you in with their exuberance. My friend Cindy peaked my curiosity with her religion since it was pretty evident to me life was not going as I had hoped it would and I had this empty place that nothing I did seemed to fill.

I went to church with her on Sundays and went to a few bible study classes and started going to church functions.. This was a lively active church that there was lot of uplifting music and really good singers in the congregation.. Which to me was really unusual being I was brought up in a Methodist church that still used the classic Christian songs written my the classical composers that droned on.. Not to mention people were singing that didn’t know how or want to..

Being a singer this in itself was enough to keep me interested.. People here really seemed to care about each other.  I felt a feeling of joy the moment I walked in the door.  I didn’t quite feel comfortable with the people.  I always felt kind of like an outsider to any group of people.  But I was getting caught up in it..

Most of the Church stuff occurred during the day or early evening. My other life, the dark side, I was not ready to give up yet.. I quit doing most of the drinking  but still hung out with my other friends at the bar every night.  I would go there just like I always had, only I would drink orange juice and sprite or some other non alcoholic drink.  I enjoyed the excitement of not knowing what would happen next.

One night a Guy named Tim who was a regular in the bar came in and I felt a strange overwhelming urge to talk to him about God.  Very unusual feeling since these were not God spouting people.

Tim was a biker, he sold drugs, he was partially crippled but never let it get him down.. He seemed to be well natured and smiled and laughed with most of the people there. As anyone knows if there is drugs and money there is guns.. and it was known he always had his.. His friends has a sort of respect for him..

Not known to me then, he was in intense pain everyday of his life.. I can’t recall now how it occurred but he was bent up and doctors had told him he would never walk. But he did. I heard that every step was agonizing for him, some days more than others.  I did admire his ability to still be able to get around and have so many real friends. He was different than the stereo type drug selling bikers.  Many of the girls fancied being with him. Though I wasn’t one of them.

But one night while sitting at the bar I felt a calling, needing urge, to speak to him about God.  I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I ever thought.  No way I was going to approach this man and try to discuss God with him.  So I chose to ignored the strong urge. And just went about other things though for some reason it never left the back of my mind.

My life started getting a bit more complicated I was more unhappy and lonely than before not fitting in anywhere. I was no longer drinking and still hanging out with friends that did so it didn’t feel quite right. I was also with Christians, yet went to bars and hung out with the partying crowd and heavy metal rock scene, which they were very disapproving of.  It was a strange mix.  I was having money troubles, and having no significant other was really weighing on me.. It made me lonelier than ever.

Life continued to get worse for me.. Being that I was not fitting in with the partying people as much, some started to point out my differences and those I thought were my friends were not always inviting me to the places I enjoyed going.

I didn’t talk too much about my growing Christian feelings. I only spoke of it with a few of my friends that I knew would not judge me or think me odd.. Surprisingly some of them had brushes with faith and religion themselves. All had found places in there lives to work it in..

Could be that this was what united us as friends to start with.. We never hurt anyone never judged and were always there for each other. Like an extended family of misfits that looked out for each other.

There were many weeks I refused  to talk to Tim.. Every time I seen him the urge returned.. God wanted me to tell him to pray.  I started getting the feeling that this was the reason my life seemed so chaotic at this time.. Because I would not do what I was told to do.. After all God had done lots of stuff for me..

I was one of those people that always seemed to have an angel on my shoulder in a problematic time. Here I  was telling God, or whoever was doing the urging, NO when asked to do something in return.. I just somehow knew things would not get better until I gave the message.

It just seemed too ridiculous to follow through with..  One night I was sitting with one of my more open minded friends at the bar, who like me, went there more to be with exciting people rather than to get drunk.. I told her about this crazy almost nagging urging feeling.. She and I had talked previously about this baby Christian thing.. She felt if I was being directed to do this I needed to do it..

I made the decision to go for it.. What did I have to lose a bit of ridicule. I knew I had to do it when he was away from his other friends so not to create gossip.. Going up to him in the first place was going to be different..  He went up to the Jukebox by himself and there was no one in the area. I made my move..

“Hi Tim, I know you don’t know me very well but I have something I need to tell you and it is going to sound really weird but I have to tell you”  He gave me his attention and did not seem to be rejecting me so far, inviting me to continue. “God says it’s time to phone home. He wants to talk to you.” “I know how crazy it sounds.. I won’t bother you any more..”

I had done it.  I was ready for the ridicule the ‘get out of my face’ stuff.. But instead I got acceptance. His response was not what I expected.

His face expression was not rage or shock. It was not disapproving. He told me I should not have been afraid to tell him that.  He went on to tell me that when he was younger he was very involved with the church.. He had been an alter boy when he was growing up and had a very religious back ground. That he had fallen away from it in the past few years.  The rest of the conversation is sort of a blur now (years later).  I was so amazed he was opening up and telling me this. I couldn’t picture his saying anything like this to anyone else let alone him talking to me about it.

I thanked him for not freaking out on me.. “You should never be afraid to say something you need to say”

I never approached him again about it.. We never really formally spoke again. But when ever he came into the bar he would smile at me and give me that knowing nod of our shared secret moment. I would share a smile back. That was the extent of our acquaintance.

Surprising thing was my life started getting better.  My friends in both parts of my life included me as I was. My money problems straightened out.  I felt less alone and felt good inside. The darkness had lifted.

A couple months later I felt the call again.. This time it was to get a close friend of mine to pray with me for Tim.  We were sitting in the car getting ready to go into a party. My friend was a bit stoned. I fit in nicely as a designated driver. I told her we needed to pray for Tim.. And without question we both closed our eyes and gave a silent prayer for him.. Again there was no question in what a strange thing I had suggested it was accepted and let go. She was my best friend but still it was a strange request.. But she was more associated with Tim and his pains than I was at that time.. So maybe she actually realized how much he needed the prayer..

The next week we seen him again at the bar.  As Tim walked in the bar he collapsed on the floor as he came in the door.. His legs gave out on him and many ran to his aide. He was in intense pain and they were almost afraid to try and move him . Finally they got him up and took him off somewhere  I only seen him once more the next week at the bar and everything seemed normal.

He didn’t show up at the bar for a few weeks we just  figured he was out with a different group of friends somewhere. We all would do that from time to time.. Sometimes shack up with someone and hole away or hang out with a different set of friends, but we always came back.

Tim didn’t come back..  One night I was sitting at the bar and the word came. Tim had committed suicide. He had been in increasing pain lately and had been getting really high to alleviate it.  Story goes some where out of town he took out his guns and blazed them into the air like a drunken cowboy and then put one to his head and fired.

I felt a very deep sadness about this man I barely knew, but for his reputation and our short conversation. Had this been the reason for the message? Had he heeded it? Some how I felt a bit of comfort knowing I had delivered his special message from God.  It still gives me chills thinking about it.

It was never mentioned amongst the friends that knew about ‘the message’. No more than a meeting of eyes when it was spoke of his leaving this world.

After that my life seemed to change.. I eventually fell out with the Church I had been going to when the congregation could not forgive the pastor for something he humanly said to someone at a bad time. I felt that was too hypocritical of people that were supposed to be so “religious” and believing in the teachings of Jesus. How could they not forgive him?

I walked away from that part of my life. I took with me what I had learned. I listen to the feelings to do something when guided in that direction no matter how crazy them may seem.  Sometimes that message, though it may seem odd to me, turns out not to be at all. It brings me peace

I have had other interesting brushes with faith throughout my life. But this tale ends here.

As Tim told me.. “..Never be afraid to say what you need to say”
There could be a greater reason.

Tim Alshire Rest in Peace

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Have Faith …not religion

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