Monday, 11 May 2015

The autumn leaves

I love Melbourne in autumn.

The colours in the gardens and parks look glorious against the back drop of the grey skies.

The streets and paths are piled high with drifts of fallen leaves. It seems impossible that anymore could fall, but there are still more to come.
Drift leaves
© 2015 divacultura

The old Greek men in the neighbourhood spend their Saturday mornings with their plastic rakes and garden bins gathering the leaves together.

"Doing the council's work," one of them says to me as I pass.

On a windy day, the task is sisyphean.

The punt on whether the sheets will dry on the clothesline, often pays off, despite a sky that suggests otherwise.

I find a big pile of leaves irresistible when I'm out walking.

I hope the wind has blown them into a pile as I swish and swoosh through them.

Autumn colour
© 2015 divacultura

Green, yellow and brown
© 2015 divacultura

Saturday, 9 May 2015

How important is my call, really?

There is no greater tool to distort the passing of time, than to be placed on hold by a call centre. The music is too tinny to be upbeat and even though the voice over is smiley and warm, it leads to thoughts of homicide. I made the tempting mistake of thinking I could make a "quick" call. As the minutes passed, it became an operatic melodrama.

I did the tracking on the website first. I expected to see something more recent than a visit to a western Sydney suburb three days ago. Was my package still there? Was it somewhere else? The website couldn't tell me.

I rang the number. To get to speak to someone, I first had to go through the same tracking process on the phone. I ended up in the same place, but this time, when I reached the end, I was able to say the word "consultant" so I could be placed on hold.

Well I was on hold for 20 minutes. That tinny music blared, only to be interrupted by overly cheerful announcements telling me I could get the answer from the website! I was at work and filed emails while I waited. That was the most useful part of the experience.

After 20 minutes a woman answered. I told her the story. She told me my parcel was in that western Sydney suburb. I asked her what it was still doing there. She suddenly noticed that it arrived there three days ago. She said it was probably on a truck and might still be delivered. I could tell she was faking. I asked her how she knew it was on a truck. She confessed that she didn't know; she was hoping. I pressed the point. She sighed. She asked me to confirm my business account details. I asked her what she meant. She told me the name of the workplace I was in. (The phones are jolly clever these days! We're all being watched, apparently.) She sighed, saying that she would need to put my personal details in. I provided them. This yielded nothing. She told me I was in the wrong section. I told her I said the word "consultant" when asked and here I was. She sighed again. She would have to put me through to another section. She couldn't do anything. I reminded her how long I had been on hold and that I wasn't really looking forward to another age of tinny music and falsely optimistic announcements from the voice over girl.

She was gone. I was on hold. The minutes ticked by. Slower than if I had been doing something enjoyable. My email in box was looking really good. I was scared I would run out of emails to file. It's amazing how much filing you can do in 30 minutes.

Neil said hello. I said hello. Another man said hello.

The line was crossed. The other man had been on hold for ages. Neil was confused. I was running out of emails to file. Neil concluded that we had a crossed line. He sensibly declared that he could only talk to one of us at a time. My details were the ones he had on the computer screen in front of him. YES! He would need to transfer Jamal.

With Jamal banished, Neil asked me how he could help. I was about to answer, but another man chimed in. I soon learned that his name was Eric. Neil explained that we had a crossed line and again demonstrated how clever he was. Eric disappeared. We started again. This time Brittany was also in the conversation. I started to laugh maniacally.

Neil concluded that this was a problem and said that we would both have to hang up. I was now 45 minutes into the phone call and hadn't resolved the issue. I wasn't giving up without a fight. I told Neil that someone would need to call me back. He promised they would; then said if they didn't I'd need to call back. I said it was unacceptable that there might be a possibility I would have to call back. I commented on how patient and good humoured I'd been so far.

Forty-five minutes later, my phone had not rung.

I called again. I went through the tracking process on the phone. I said "consultant". I went on hold.

By the time the call was answered by a person, I had run my errands in town, bought groceries and was on the train home, barrelling towards the inner west black spot where all phone calls drop out. North Melbourne is apparently in the wilderness of Melbourne.

I explained the black spot problem to Sue and asked if she would call me back if the call dropped out. She told me that wasn't possible. I got off the train. I stood on the platform as Sue clicked away on her keyboard and sighed and gave me no new information. Sue told me she really didn't know where the parcel was. She told me I couldn't complain until three business days after the EDD. That's the estimated delivery date. The EDD was the very day that I was filing my emails, having brief encounters with men called Neil and Jamal and Eric.

I asked how I make a complaint.

Sue told me I just needed to call. There was no hint of irony either.

This morning I woke up to an email from the recipient of the parcel to say it had arrived. I could have just asked, but had not wanted to spoil the surprise.

Happy Mother's Day Mum! Thanks for being my proofreader (after publication).