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Monday, May 18, 2009

Mr. Williamson's Quest. A Day by Day Account of my Battle with Fortuna, Goddess of Fortune.

The Quest. Day 1

We had a Magellan mission arriving at 4:00 P.M. Brittney V. walks up to my desk at 3:45 P.M. That was the moment the Quest began. One minute all is right with the world. Then, in an instance things change - for the better or the worse.
“The Magellan projector is doing that flashing thing again and it won’t come on,” she said. The news itself wasn’t a deal breaker. We always keep a spare bulb for every Space Center projector. I went into the Magellan and tested the projector myself. The bulb was dead. In an effort to speed things along because of the impending Magellan crew I called Kyle and asked him to come down and switch projectors. The Space Center owns two of he NEC special projectors that throw a large picture from a short distance. One is used in the Magellan and the other is kept in the faculty room.

I fetched the spare projector, opened the cupboard and took out the spare bulb. My plan was to install the spare bulb in the bulbless spare projector and have it ready for installation when Kyle arrived. I opened the spare bulb and attempted to slide it into place.
Houston, we have a problem. The bulb wouldn’t lock into place inside the projector. Kyle arrived and confirmed the problem. The spare bulb was missing something on the bulb’s casing. I purchased a defective bulb off Ebay in an failed attempted to save money. We were in a pickle.

In came our superstaff! The Voyager was open. I started shuffling Flight Directors. I moved Taylor into the Galileo. I moved Rachel from the Galileo into the Odyssey. I moved Emily out of the Odyssey into the Voyager. Our missions would be unaffected by this mishap. I had other things to do to get things ready for the overnight camp. Alpine was sending just enough kids to run the Odyssey and Galileo. I had a test group coming in for the Phoenix. My plan was to get the camp started and then purchase two new replacement lamps and have them shipped next day delivery so we’d have them by Tuesday.

The Quest. Day 2

Without the Magellan projector the two Magellan private missions had to either be canceled or switched to the Voyager. I successfully transferred the 11:30 A.M. Magellan into the Voyager. The 2:30 mission wouldn’t work. The Voyager was booked. I phoned the Magellan crew and explained the situation. It was a special mission for the woman’s husband’s 40th birthday party and they couldn’t reschedule. I told Brittney to prepare to fly without the projector. She assured me they could pull off ‘Death Trap’ reasonably well projector less. The crew was given half off. The Space Center operated that mission at a loss. What else can you do? Take care of your customers and keep your reputation strong in the community.

Later that day I found a replacement bulb from a company somewhere in the Eastern half of the US. I ordered it online and paid extra for next day shipping. I realized they wouldn’t get the order until Monday so expected the bulb on Tuesday.

The Quest. Day 3

The bulb hadn’t arrived when I finished the field trip missions. Realizing that many people are inept at their jobs and couldn’t give an owl’s hoot for customer care I called the toll free number of the bulb company and spoke to customer service. A young man’s voice answered. He spoke American English. That was a good sign. He checked into the order and discovered it had come in too late for a Monday ship out even though I ordered it on Saturday. He assured me it would go out that afternoon. I could expect delivery Wednesday. That was still OK. We didn’t have another Magellan until Thursday.

The Quest. Day 4

The bulb hadn’t arrived when I finished the field trip missions. Sound familiar? Now surprised someone could be THAT inept at their job I called customer service again. This time I spoke to a young man named Brooks. I explained the situation and made it clear I was getting hot under the collar. He blamed the situation on the warehouse, said there was a real clerical screw up and said he would resolved the matter personally. He gave me his direct line and said to call him on Thursday if the bulb hadn’t come.
“Brook’’s,” I said in a tone serious yet understanding, “I need this bulb, that is why I ordered it next day delivery. I have a theater out of commission and I need this resolved. May I trust you to resolve my problem for me? Will you look at this as your personal mission in life to make me happy?”
“You can count on me Sir,” he replied. “We value our customers and want their loyalty.”
I felt I had a friend in some office building somewhere east of the Mississippi. I looked to Brooks to restore my faith in humans.

The Quest. Day 5

The bulb hadn’t arrived when i finished the field trip missions. Sound excruciatingly familiar? I was back on the phone. Brooks didn’t answer so I called customer service. I explained the situation to someone new. He said he would find out what happened and have Brooks call me. He also explained that the problem was never at their warehouse. They never had the bulb in stock. They were having it drop shipped from NEC and that is where the problem was.

I called Brooks back. No answer. I left a message telling him my faith in humanity was in his hands and to call and give me good news. I reminded him to leave a message if I didn’t answer. I hung up.

Now what would you do? I sat at my desk suffering through a record breaking foul mood. I had to make quick decisions. What would I do with a 4:30 P.M. Magellan mission. What would I do about a 4:00 P.M. mission the following day? What about the overnight camp? What about the two Magellan missions on Saturday? I know how upset people get when their best made plans of several months go down the toilet with one phone call from me explaining I don’t have a simulator for them and to find some other venue for their party - oh, at last minute as well. Yes........ I’m in the crapper covered in something hitting the fan over my head. You get the unsavory picture I trust?

The Voyager was open for that day’s Magellan’s crew. I had already done three missions that day and didn’t want to do a fourth but Kyle couldn’t take the mission and Emily was already in mid flight in the Odyssey. Suddenly my foul mood took a darker turn. Ask anyone about my pleasant nature last Thursday. You’ll see their face take a serious turn, their eyes enlarge to twice their normal size and their index finger drawn across their throat.
I had a few moments before the 2:00 P.M. mission so I got on the internet and searched for another company. Minutes before my mission, with my group waiting at the revolving door I found a company called CDW. Instead of placing an online order I decided to place it over the phone. I called sales.

A pleasant, faceless voice answered. Suddenly it seemed my luck would change. He asked if the Space Center was part of the Alpine School District. If so, they had a Utah State contract. I could buy the bulb at a discount - $100 to be exact. I told him at that price I’d take two. I reached in my wallet to produce the credit card. It wasn’t there. Kyle had it.
I put him on hold, went into the office and took the school’s credit card out of the safe. I charged the amount, hung up the phone and did my 2:00 P.M. mission feeling I had completed my Quest!

At 4:00 P.M. the mission ended. I sat at my desk regaining my sanity. A thought crossed my mind. It couldn’t be as easy as that. Something was wrong. Fortuna, the goddess of luck and fortune wouldn’t be cutting me a bit of slack would she? No, she’s been on my case lately with one thing and another. I had a sudden feeling that my contentment was false. Fortuna had lured me into the belief that she had caste her hook into someone else's pond.
“Think you got me do you?” I said to her under my breath. The room was full of staff and I didn’t want them to think I had reached level 5 on the Space Center Madness Scale. I reached for the phone to call CDW to confirm my order. The phone crew cold. She was unhappy I was on to her game.

I got a woman this time. I gave her my order number.
“Im sorry sir but that order is not placed. Your credit card was declined.” I put her on hold, walked into the office and asked the secretary why the school’s credit card had been declined. A few questions later I was back on the phone telling CDW the school’s credit card had a limit of $500. I was up the creek. The Space Center’s credit card was with Kyle and I had no way to pay for the order. I felt Fortuna’s staff jab me in the ribs. She thought she had me. Oh Fortuna, do you really think I’m that easily defeated? I pulled out my own American Express card and charged it to my own account. After all, what’s $750 when you’re at war with one of Olympia’s Gods? I hung up and went about my business. Victory tasted sweet.

Thirty minutes later an uneasiness found a place in my mind. What had she been up to in that hour? I called CDW again. I gave the agent the order number. She told me the order was placed and shipping. I was about to end the call when a thought crossed my mind.
“Please tell me where the package is being shipped?”
“No problem sir, It is address to Alpine School District Accounts Payable. The address is 575 North 100 East in American Fork Utah.”
My heart skipped a beat. Just at that moment a crack of thunder from Mount Olympus was heard across Greece. Fortuna was celebrating.

The Quest. Day 6

I got to school at 8:00 A.M. and promptly called the District Office. I explained the situation to the receptionist. She said she would watch for the package and notify me when it came in. At 1:40 P.M. I called back. No package. A panic set in. I called CDW and had them track the package. They confirmed it has been delivered. WHERE WERE MY BULBS?
I called back. The receptionist said to try Accounts Payable because they were the ones it was address to. I called Accounts Payable. The woman who answered assured me they didn’t have the package.
“Try Printing. They get packages delivered there all the time,” she suggested. I called printing.
“Only FEDEX delivers here,” Shelley told me. “UPS delivers to the warehouse in Lindon.”
“What if the package says the District Office?” I asked.
“It doesn’t matter,” she replied. “All UPS packages go there.” She gave me the number of someone named Clark.

It was 3:00 P.M. The Magellan mission was schedule to start at 4;00 P.M. The Overnight Camp was after that. The following day (Saturday) there were two Magellan private missions. I was back into panic mode. Fortuna had the knife in and was about to turn it.
I called the number.
“Is this Clark?”
“This is Victor Williamson at the Space Center. I’m looking for a package that was delivered by UPS.”
“So its yours! What does it say on the package?”
“It says deliver to Account’s Payable.”
“Yes, I’ve got it. I was thinking that if someone wanted this bad enough to have it next day shipped they would call and come pick it up.”
“I’ll have someone there right away to pick it up.”

Bill was up and walking out the Briefing Room door volunteering to drive to the warehouse to pick up our package. Kyle was on hand to put the bulb into the projector. Bill came back with a package with two bulbs. Kyle took one and quickly put it into the open projector. A moment later it was mounted onto the wall and WORKING. My Quest was at an end. The week from heck seemed to be over.

A few minutes later Brittney came into the room and told me half the Magellan wasn’t reading the network. The Magellan crew was there getting briefed on their mission. It was Fortuna’s parting shot as she left Pleasant Grove looking for bigger fish to fry. Kyle spent some time in the wiring closet and resolved the problem. We were good to go.

And so my friends, that was my week. It wasn’t a pretty one. It caused stress and a few very unpleasant moods but we won in the end. The Magellan worked well as a ship and, to everyone surprise, took the Flight Director’s Trophy after the overnight camp. Perhaps it was Fortuna’s way of acknowledging the fact that I stayed in the battle and fought a good fight.

We are starting a new week. I’m wondering what challenge is waiting. Life at the Space Center means never a dull moment.

Mr. Williamson
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