Davok sat in the command chair of his personal space yacht docked at the Tolliver Station. From the outside the yacht looked nothing as it did two years earlier when it left the space yacht dealership. The hull was streaked with grime, no longer gleaming white, “Play Ship III” emblazoned on the side of the sad looking craft. The interior of the vessel looked lived in, random clothes and food containers strewn about. The “captain” of the ship looked tired, but his face donned a slight smile with the awkwardness of one not used to smiling.
He picked up his comm-unit and set the routing frequency to contact the customer support for his ship’s Recording Playback Machine (RPM). The machine locked-up after only thirty minutes of use. He had gone without the RPM for 4 months. Without the RPM functioning properly, he had no choice but to stay at Tolliver Station; breaking his back trying to earn the pittance it would take to get it fixed.
He finally received the last of the money he needed the day previous. He looked forward to no longer having to hang out in the alley behind the Space Keg Pub just off the main Casino drag.
He went from servicing his last “client”, an alien that he hoped was at least a girl alien, to deposit the last of the required money in his account.
Logging into the Tolliver service center internal web domain was easy enough and he could visualize using his long un-working RPM. He couldn’t wait.
The service domain asked for his RPM unit model number and serial number. Easy enough…he carefully stuck his head between the RPM unit and the bulkhead of the bridge and swore under his breath. The numbers were small black letters on a metal tag on the black RPM unit in the heavily shadowed space. Davok, having scribbled on his hand the coded numbers from the back and having forgotten the hour long search for a service light, returned almost gleefully to the computer console. He entered in the numbers and the domain’s next step page dominated his computer view screen. He just needed to enter in the encrypted monetary credit institutions pay-out authorization number. Tapping the continue button on the console, Davok felt like a kid the night before Thundera Days. The anticipation could be sliced with an energy weapon it was so thick.
The message from his nightmares then flashed up on the view screen, DENIED. Such a simple word, strange it could cause so much grief. He double checked the authorization number and realized he had in his excitement entered the incorrect number.
Still, this was not too bad. He just had to refresh the domain and put the correct number in. No sweat. He transcribed once more the model and serial numbers into the computer. Hit the continue button just as he had last time…
He almost collapsed with the sight of an even greater hell, like being caught in the gravity well of a black hole or getting stuck sharing a space-taxi with Mumra, the so called ever-living (more like Dumb-ra the ever-boring, man that guy had some stupid stories). Davok’s mind digressed into silliness. He thought it must be his mind’s defense mechanism to prevent his soul from ripping in half.
His view screen showed the words, “Your serial number is invalid.”
WHAT!?!?! How could it be invalid? The same seemingly random numbers and letters had gotten him to the pay for service domain before. Was the service computer giving his “access to service” a timeout? How could the same serial number be valid one second and invalid the next?
He thought of the insanity that would follow if he had to buy a whole new RPM unit just because the service internal web domain could not figure out how to accept and serial number.
The cost for a new RPM was two and a half times more than service. He barely had the credits for service.
A never ending parade of aliens willing to pay him to do any number of disgusting and probably illegal things with and to him marched through his brain.
He then noticed a comm frequency listed on the screen to talk to a service representative. A ray of hope hit him like a meteor hitting an unshielded shuttle.
Davok entered the frequency into his hand held comm-unit and held it up to his head. Great…a robot answering the comm. “Welcome to the Tolliver service center comm-system, where you will have the opportunity to talk through your problem with a service rep. Current waiting time is 3 hours.”
The computer might as well told him 3 years. Davok saw no better alternative than to wait for his chance to communication with a person. But, that option barely won out over cycle oneself through an airlock into space.
Three grueling hours later, the comm-unit chirped. A real life biological sentient was talking to him. It said wonderful things like “Can you spell that last name for me”, “Can I please have you verify the Model and Serial Numbers for me?” It was glorious. The humanoid could have been calling Davok names and he would have kept the dopey smile on his face.
The person next had him go through the self-help steps Davok had completed back when he first experienced the problem with the RMP, all of which were listed on the internal web domain for the service center. Davok even thought he mentioned his self-help experience.
Since the problem with the RPM was its locking up after thirty minutes, some of the steps of loading video for one or two minutes seemed comical almost. Davok even reminded the service representative that just loading a vid was not an accurate test since the problem would show up later.
Undeterred the service rep pushed forward and had Davok load another different type of vid, again not for long enough to check if they had fixed it.
“Now, I will leave you to play an entire vid. I will send you a secure message with information on going further in the service process if you are still having difficulty.”
Davok, feeling like maybe the robot that answered the com may have listened to him better, said, “Ok, thanks.”
The thought occurred to Davok that maybe though the rep had not seemed helpful, maybe he was pulling some strings behind the scenes to make things work.
Davok turned off the comm-unit and sat down in front of the main bridge view screen. He turned the RPM unit on with his chair arm mounted control pad. The familiar interface screen flashed before him. Like an old friend. He selected his favorite cyborg ball vid and relaxed to enjoy it.
It froze about 30 minutes in.
Davok felt less outraged and more vindicated in his opinion that repeating the same failed “fixes” with the only different variable being the comm-unit channel open to the “genius” service rep would lead to the same result.
Davok looked at the comm-unit. He knew in the back of his mind he would be talking to Mr. Robot again soon. Finally, he hit the open channel to “last used” button.
Mr. Robot once again welcomed Davok to the service center, again promised a conversation with an air breather and then informed Davok the wait time for this privilege would be two hours.
Davok at this point was determined to get different results with this service representative. The two hours actually passed more quickly than the previous three hour wait time. Plus this time he knew the words to the hold music and could sing along.
The newest friend in Davok’s life came up on the comm-unit following the chirp and once again asked for his name, model and serial numbers, his comm-unit frequency and finally, “What seems to be the problem?”
Ok, this did sound like a different person, so Davok decided to be civil. Halfway through explaining the issue, adamantly pointing out repeatedly the time it took for vids to freeze.
After five minutes Davok stopped talking…silence…the comm-unit had shut off for a reason Davok could not fathom. Well, maybe it could be fate adding a checkmark to the “airlock solution” pluses column on Davok’s cost-benefit analysis.
Immediately Davok remade the connection with his newest, closest friend Mr. Robot. Mr. Robot nicely, in case Davok had forgotten, welcomed him to the Tolliver service center and assured him another living being would talk to him after the wait time of one hour.
Crushed, Davok slumped in his seat waiting to talk to another service rep.
“Hello, may I please have your comm-unit frequency.” Davok started with it as soon as the rep had stopped speaking.
“Can I have your …” This time he said his names, first and last, and even spelled them for him. Davok started to sense the presence of some evil dark puppeteer that controlled these poor service reps.
The reps did show incredible perseverance though, pushing through more previously attempted no-way-to-test solutions to his problem.
When the service rep started to tell Davok about the message he would receive with instructions on completing the process on the internal web domain of the service center, he protested.
“I tried this with a different service representative this morning.”
The rep didn’t miss a beat, “Try it once more, and then call back tomorrow if you still experience difficulty.”
Davok with no recourse simply replied, “Alrighty then.”
Davok sat there with his still broken RPM unit and pondered a question now plaguing his thoughts. “If the definition of insanity is doing the same exact thing expecting different results, then what was someone that asked others to do the same thing and then tell them to expect different results?”
The question rang in his mind as he stood from his command chair in the bridge of the PeeEssThree, walked to the airlock on the space side of the ship, stepped in, and cycled himself out into space.
As Davok’s blood boiled from pressure differentials, the last thought was, “I have been killed by customer service.”