First there was the flat quiet tone, then, the electronic chick’s voice announcing the call transfer. Three seconds later, the next caller was patched through.
Danae adjusted her headset and looked towards Karl’s like they were about to share a secret.
“Thank you for calling Amico. This is Karl, how may I help you?”
“Hello, Karl. I’m – I’m in a bit of a bind. I’m looking for my email account? And I ahh – I can’t seem to find it. It’s rather important. I created a new account while I was on vacation when I wrote this thing. It’s the only copy of the document in existence. And now it’s disappeared.”
“Are you in front of your computer?
“Could you shut it down for me please?”
There was a brief silence. Karl thought he could hear the Weather Network in the background. “Karl, you see my …”
“Just let me know when it boots up again.” He glanced at Danae who raised an eyebrow, surprised by his assertiveness.
“I’m just going to put you on hold while I pull up your file.” The caller started saying something when Karl hit the mute button. He turned to Danae who was listening, pen and paper in hand. “Rule number one: every person who calls in thinks they know what’s wrong. They don’t.”
“I think you just cut him off.
“Doesn’t matter. He has nothing to say that’s of any importance. If you went by what he told you, you’d have to believe that someone came to his house and stole the Internet last night.” Karl opened a large blue AMICO binder filled with plasticized pages. “This is the procedures bible. It’s a true / false tree that helps you eliminate problems so you can zero in on what’s wrong. You start from the beginning and you work your way through until either you find a resolution or you pass the call on to another department. You may not, for any reason, skip any part of the process because that’s a sure-fire way to screw up the entire diagnosis.”
Karl flipped to the middle of the procedures bible. He smiled. “After seven years, I’d be willing to bet it’s his router.” He clicked off the mute and returned to his caller.
“Thank you for holding. Has the computer booted up yet?
“Yes. But I don’t think you’ve…”
“Can you try opening your email account?”
There was a slight pause. “You know, I don’t think you understand what the problem is. Maybe I haven’t explained –“
Karl hit the mute button. “He’s resisting me. Can you hear it?”
Danae nodded. “Amazing.”
“Yeah. You can tell it’s going to be impossible to convince him I’m right. So, from this point on, whatever a client says, I don’t agree or disagree – I redirect.”
Karl unlocked the mute button. The caller was still talking. Danae rolled her eyes.
“…And if I can’t send my story by the end of this week, it may not get published. “
“I understand your frustration but AMICO has a troubleshooting process in place so if you’ll please bear with me and let me get through the necessary steps, we’ll resolve the problem in no time.”
“As long as you understand –“
Karl hit the mute button again. “Another thing you’re supposed to do is smile while you’re on the phone. The company believes customers can hear the difference. I have personally mastered the art of the smiling sneer. You’ll find your own way.”
He deactivated the mute button which was exactly when Karl and Danae heard a long beep. Danae looked over at Karl quizzically.
Karl drew a sphincter symbol (*) on a post it note and pasted it up to his workstation wall for others to see. Ed was listening.
“Thank you for your patience.” Karl said in his most unctuous voice.
Karl talked his client through every step. He made him disconnect from his network. Run some commands. Ping. Change some settings. Disconnect. Bypass the router. Find a different cable. Try it all again. The guy was getting testy but Karl stayed as sweet as an apple.
“What do you see?”
“I’ve identified your problem as being your router.” Karl flipped the procedures book shut followed by a long beep. Ed had finally hung up.
“It’s not the router that’s the –”
Danae hit the mute button. “Ed was listening – THAT whole time? “Why? What possible reason could he have to sit on the other end of the line for an entire hour.”
“Exactly. Welcome to Amico.” Karl returned to his caller. “Sir, our records show you do not currently own an AMICO router. Could I interest you in purchasing one at this time?
“No. You could not interest me in purchasing one. My router is fine. All I’m missing is one email account. That’s it. Now I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to do and you’ve totally screwed all settings. I can’t even find Google.” His voice was clipped and his words, enunciated. He was pissed. “ I demand you send someone over to my house and fix this problem, now.”
Karl put on his best smile. “I can put in a technical assistance request but you should know that if the router is the problem, you will be required to pay a minimal service charge of $310.00. If you had an AMICO router, this service would, of course, be free of charge.”
“You guys are…. Unbelievable.”
“Is there anything else I can do for you? “
“Oh, no. I’d say you’ve done quite enough, Karl. Wouldn’t you?” He hit the ‘K’ in Karl’s name with contempt.
“In that case, thank you for dealing with Amico – communication with a friendly smile.” The caller had hung up.
“This fucking day,” said Karl switching his station to aftercall mode.
“Phew. That was intense. Now, what do we do? Hit the bar?” asked Danae, peeling off her headset.
“Tell me about it. We still have to go through paperwork but let’s take a break before we start that. Back in fifteen?” He glanced at his phone. “Actually, make it twenty.”
Danae stood up. “Don’t have to tell me twice,” she said, tugging down her polo shirt. She took off down the aisle, didn’t even suggest she needed to hold her hand for her first break. She was alright.
As Karl was peeling the sphincter post-it off his workstation, Jackson popped up over his partition. “Ed found out you came in late.”
Karl sighed. “Great. I’m going to be getting an earful, later.”
Jackson chuckled. “Speaking of earfuls, wouldn’t it be hilarious if ED was the Lone Moaner?”
“Moaner. In the bathroom? Come on! The guy that gets off like four-five times a day?”
“Oh, Yeah,” said Karl, starting to feel sick. “ I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. Stop it. It’s upsetting to the youth.”
“Screw you,” said Jackson. He wasn’t subtle but least, his comebacks were consistent.
Karl stood up. “Okay, you go drink your cream. I gotta get out of here for a few minutes.”
Karl’s “issue” had gone from top secret to common knowledge. From now on, if anyone heard him in a bathroom stall would hang outside in the hall to out him. He’d be fired on the spot.
Karl stood behind the large dumpster at the back of the AMICO building, jerking off by the paper bins. Despite having done due diligence at home, it couldn’t wait until lunch. As he started getting closer, the pressures of his basement apartment, his shitty job and his credit card debt started to slip away. His breathing got shallower and his cock gave him the signal it was going to take over. All his frustrations were about to be swept away. It was unfortunate that just as he closed his eyes to succumb, Karl spotted the new security camera on the side of the building.
NEXT WEEK: Homeward Bound
DEAR LOST DOG READERS: Thanks for reading! As of November 15th, I have decided to post the remaining chapters of Lost Dogs on my own WordPress page because it has a few more bells and whistles. Hope you’ll come see me there.