Tuesday, January 12 2021

sledgehammers, fight night, and being called sweetie



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Dear Journal,

Let’s have a Tuesday. Sure, why not?

How are you feeling today? Today I feel hopeful. My calendar is wide open, and that bodes well for a pretty big challenge that I took on this week. Another team at our company needed to push out some changes that were time sensitive, and they were blocked by some mysterious and inconsistent problems that would crop up when talking to our secret vault. The idea of upgrading the vault and hoping the issue gets fixed was floated out there in a group discussion. I suggested instead that I take one day to see if I can fix it without the nuclear option, but after spending an entire workday in the weeds yesterday, I think that’s the best option. Today I have a wide open day ahead of me, and that excites me. That’s almost a whole solitary work day to plan the most swift and thorough vault upgrade ever done. When your time and energy converge like this, good things can happen.

Sip. Yesterday, though. Mondays, right? Marissa and I like to say that to each other in the morning when we’re just sipping coffeen at the table and there’s nothing else to talk about. But yesterday, still feeling down about letting a scammer sweet talk our bank login, she said it with some sincerity.

“He didn’t actually get any money,” I reminded her. “It could have been a lot worse.”

“I know,” sighed Marissa. “I just feel embarrassed. It’s kind of like… if I were in a fitting Target room while the door fell off and 30 people saw me in my underwear. There was no damage, but the whole thing just left me feeling so embarrassed.”

We set aside all of yesterday to get to the bank and figure it out. We debated whether or not to go in together.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe going in there with two kids might make them a little more eager to get us out of there. I’m just worried they’re going to waste your time.”

“I’d be too worried about Rodney and Miles,” said Marissa. “That’s a long time to be in a building, I’d rather not risk them getting sick.”

Talking to the banker over the phone, Marissa learned about what is probably the most annoying policy ever enforced by a bank. “BMO says that they won’t un-freeze our account until we have my computer wiped.”

I nearly choked on my coffee. “Your computer?”

“It’s BMO’s policy,” said Marissa. “Since I happened to mention both my laptop and our desktop computer, the banker said that she can’t move forward until I bring both hard drives to Geek Squad.”

Marissa explained that I was in IT and would be happy to wipe the computers myself, but the banker dug in. “She needs to see a receipt from a computer repair store,” said Marissa.

I made a conscious effort to change my attitude. The hassle of lifting and shifting our bank accounts was only beginning, and it wouldn’t be wise to dig in so soon. So I grabbed two completely useless hard drives out of my closet and jumped in the car, heading to Geek Squad.

An employee in a wrinkled red polo tiredly approached me at the counter. The words what can I do for you today leaked out of his mouth.

“Quick story,” I said. “My bank account was hacked, and the bank won’t un-freeze my account until I get my hard drive wiped here.”

We went back and forth. I tried to hide the fact that I was feeling defensive soliciting help from a Geek Squad. I tried to convey with my tone that this was just a silly formality. “What’s the fastest this can get done.”

He picked up my hard drive and inspected the label. “Probably a half hour? I mean that’s the fastest without destroying it…”

My eyes lit up. “What if you destroy it?” I asked.

“Oh I can do that right now,” he replied.

“What, do you guys have a sledgehammer back there?” I asked, expecting him to explain.

“Yes,” he replied. “We just use a sledgehammer.”

The four other employees followed him into the back room with my hard drives. I could tell that they enjoyed this part of the job and just wanted something fun to do. The hammer made a thud against the metal. Through the plastic curtain I could hear them all take a few swings at my hard drive.

“OK, Mr. Recker,” he said bringing a zipped bag of rattling broken pieces back to the counter. “Your service request is complete. I’ll print out a service form to bring to your bank.”

He slid me over a sheet of paper. He had written hard drive was hit with a sledgehammer until unrecoverable. The bill total was zero dollars. It all felt weirdly like a modern rendition of an Old Testament sacrifice - an innocent hard drive put to death to cover a theft.

“This was free?” I said, elated.

“Yep - free” he repeated. “We just hit it with a hammer after all.”

For dramatic effect, I had Marissa bring in the broken hard drives. I tried to talk her into playing dumb and asking the banker something like “where did Geek Squad put all of my family photos?” before exploding into inconsolable tears. Marissa was more honorable than I would have been.

The banker told Marissa the appointment would take an hour. She was there for three hours. In the time she sat there, the banker tried to get her to open a new credit card and upgrade our checking and savings accounts. They called her sweetie. They even gave her crap about her Bears face mask. Hearing about her experience, it seemed kind of ironic that they were far less respectful than the scammer that pretended to work for BMO. At least he didn’t call Marissa sweetie.

Marissa cooked shrimp for dinner. Gathered in the living room watching YouTube, we spontaneously broke out into a family wrestling match. Rodney jumped on top of me and we rolled off the couch to the floor. Marissa joined the dog pile. For the next half hour, we’d take out all the frustration garnered from BMO into a living room family fight night. Marissa tight the legs of Rodney’s pants together at the ankles, and when his pants inevitably slipped off his legs, Marissa wore them like a fighting mask.

It was a good day. Thanks for stopping by today, hope you have a wonderful day.