Household Deities

Lots of religions have the notion of household gods–deities who aren’t in charge of the vast universe, but who tend to small things like broken dryers and clogged sinks.  Even the Catholic saints take on additional duties, like finding your car keys or selling your house.  Perhaps the impulse to wish for extra support, not just with the big things, but with the small, is universal.


In the past few weeks, my household gods have failed me completely.  Perhaps they’ve withered from lack of attention like all my plants eventually do.


In any case, I’ve endured visits from both Roto-rooter ($337.00) and the heating guy ($287.00).  For three weeks a smoke alarm with a dying battery beeped somewhere deep in the recesses of the house while Bill and I took turns searching for it.  And Bill spent all of last Saturday going from hardware store to hardware store looking for salt and a tool to get the ice off the front steps.  They face due north, get no sun at all, resemble a frozen waterfall and are just as easy to climb.


After each little hiccup, I am afraid to think that this run of –what?  It’s way too much to call it bad luck—maybe bad inconvenience—is over.  I am eyeing our cars and the rest of our major appliances with suspicion.


Perhaps I will begin a program to attract new household gods, but where do they come from?  Can they be purchased like warrantees or do they have to be lured?  Maybe an ad in the personals–


Wanted:  Minor god to sweat the small stuff for us.  Comfortable home, at least when the heat and toilets are working.  Inhabitants are friendly and mellow—except when they are not.  Only independent, self-sufficient deities need apply.

IT Support

The biggest challenge of working at home (or even not working, at home) is the IT support is just terrible.  Oh how I miss the days when, at the slightest mention of an issue or frustration, IT guys would come running down the hall as if their hair were on fire.

The IT team at WebCT was incredibly patient and supportive.  We had a system. They pretended to believe what I was saying, nodded sagely, disappeared with my laptop, then reappeared shortly, and all was right with the world.  I often suspected that they just took the machine down to their offices and let it rest for awhile, but it didn’t matter.  It worked.

My current IT support doesn’t even come close.   Here are the five most common responses from my current IT person:

  1. “It never does that when I’m using it.”
  2. “Read the manual.”
  3. “Why are you wasting time reading the manual?”
  4. “Elvis in Bangalore said…”
  5. And the incredibly irritating, “What did you do to it?”

And I have to sleep with this guy just to get this cruddy level of service.

Compare that to the support I got at WebCT.  Once a full cup of tea I had carefully placed on the total opposite side of my desk miraculously leapt up of its own volition and poured its entire contents through the keyboard and into the bowels of my computer.  Just like a code blue in a hospital, guys came running from everywhere.  “You may not want to see this, ma’am,” they said, politely closing my office door.

Or the time I had to tell them I’d backed my car over my laptop.  (Okay, first I said my computer had crashed.  Then I admitted I had crashed into my computer.)  They didn’t ask why, or even how.  They just fixed it. And then they went out of their way to explain that it wasn’t the stupidest thing anyone at the company had ever done with a laptop. (My favorites were the guy who sent his laptop from China in a manila envelope.  Not even a padded envelope.  Just a note that said, “It’s broken.”  Well, it is now.  Or the contractor who checked his laptop with his luggage, because the company didn’t have a specific policy against it.  “We don’t have a policy against sending your computer to the dry-cleaner, either,” Bob Bean responded in his typical manner, “but you wouldn’t do that, would you? Or maybe you would…”)

So Bob, Jeff, Chuck, Diraj, Matt and Shahab, you are gone, but not forgotten.  Or I am gone, but you are not forgotten.  Or something.  And of course, Sarah, Kurt (x2) Max, (x2 or was it 3?)  Thank you for everything you did for me and for the company. 

By the way, could one of you come over and talk to my current guy?  He could really use a little help with his attitude.

Why I Love Living in Massachusetts

     Today when I was at the Post Office in Davis Square, Somerville, a tweedy old guy wandered up to the window and asked the middle-aged postal clerk if he had any stamps with movie stars on them.

“Well,” replied the clerk, “I have Ronald Reagan.”

And then he looked at the old guy and the old guy looked at him and they both burst out laughing.  

The clerk knew the old guy wasn’t going to buy the Ronald Reagan stamps.  In fact, the clerk’s expression implied it had been a long time since anyone had bought those stamps.

The old guy went with superheroes stamps.  No explanation or further conversation was necessary.  

And that’s why I love living in Massachusetts.