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Phoning In A Strike

March 6, 2017

I’m sorry, it’s very loud here. Can you say that again? You are or are not seeing the issue with the Secondary Lending calls? Are? Okay. Go ahead and start tracking them. Same drill, have them help the clients if possible otherwise ask them to call back. Hold on just a minute. I’ll be right back. . .

I placed my phone and the ubiquitous one-sided headphones down between the pizza and the pitcher of rootbeer. Picking up a marbled black ball, I took a deep breath and threw it down the alley at the waiting ten pins.

I barely noticed as the ball connected perfectly and knocked them all sprawling. Good. I didn’t have to throw the second ball to try to pick up a spare.

Yeah, this is Rodney. I’m back. Can you give me a status check on the agents in Lexington? Are they seeing any improvement at all?

Such was my Saturday. My company had a charity bowling event to benefit Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Utah. It was planned months in advance. We’d held bake sales and sold raffle tickets and put up posters around our buildings in Salt Lake City asking employees to donate, or form a team and join. I was invited by a former manager to join his team.

I didn’t want to go. It’s not that I’m against helping others, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters is certainly a worthy organization that does fantastic work. It’s just that I work a lot of hours and Saturdays are generally reserved for kids and family. But, I also know that it’s the extra things we choose to do that people remember. Much of my work is accomplished via influence and relationships. And if it took a Saturday bowling to help strengthen a relationship with that team, then, it was a worthwhile tradeoff.

What I didn’t expect was to get a call at 7:30 Saturday morning that one of my sites was down. It quickly became obvious that all of my sites were down. I reached out to the client and joined their outage bridge on my headset, and assembled my team on a conference call on my other headset. But, 7:30 is a long way away from the bowling start time of 11:30. I figured we’d be done in plenty of time.

But, I did have to shower and get dressed.

Hey, sounds like we’re in a bit of a waiting period. Give me a few minutes and I’ll be right back.

The clock kept ticking and we were no closer to solving the problem. Well, I should point out that the problem existed on the client end. We were waiting on their engineering team to fix the problem. And we waited. And waited. Soon, it was time for me to leave for the event.

I need to switch to a single phone. I’m going to be using my cell phone and bouncing back and forth between the two calls. Bear with me, if you need something, it might be a minute before I check back in.

Off to Fat Cats in Salt Lake City with my Apple headphones with the left bud cut off, firmly planted in my ear. I arrived shortly before the 11:30 start time. The parking lot was packed and there was a line of people out of the door. Fortunately, as a team member, I assumed I got to skip the line. (I was going to anyway, but it was nice to know it was allowed.)

Rodney! Where have you been? Hurry up and get your costume on. We’re about to start and they want to do pictures.

My friend had purchased “Rock Star” Halloween costumes for the members of the team. I wore the bright red jacket and zebra striped pants. Other team members had stars and lightening bolts painted on their faces with “big hair” fake wigs. As we gathered for multiple pictures, I discretely removed the earphones as each photographer took their turn.

I still had a job to do.

We worked out a strategy where I would stand on the far side of the arcade, away from the noise of the balls hitting the pins, the music and the really loud announcements. As it was my turn to bowl, my team waved me over and I put my call on hold.

I’m not a great bowler. Apparently being distracted helps. I bowled a 123 for the first game. I upped that to a 133 for the second game. But, more importantly, I managed to get my four sites to validate the client changes were effective. I also then reviewed the spreadsheets from each site that track our number of impacted agents. When the outage was over (about half way through the first game) I quickly tracked down the site director for our Salt Lake City office and updated him on the impact. (He was bowling three lanes over from us.)

The company provided pizza and drinks and multiple prizes, including trophies for the team with the “best costume.”

Yep, I’ve now joined the ranks of middle-aged American men everywhere. I own a bowling trophy.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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