Beep Beep Beep And Out Go The Lights
by Ernie Williams

beep-beep-beep!! beep-beep-beep!! beep-beep-beep!!

It was the loathsome and utterly hated sound of the pager going off, waking me from a perfectly good sleep, some time in the late night / early morning hours.

Yes, it was my turn to cover the customer support line pager and take care of our idiot customers who were having problems with their systems at 2AM and other insane hours. There was nothing I hated more than being on pager duty. Nothing. The extra pay involved was NOT worth it.

I rolled out of bed, grabbed the phone and called into the message center to retrieve what I was sure would be an extremely urgent and important message (can you hear the sarcasm in my voice?) from someone in dire need of help with their computer system. (Yeah, right).

FF_129160_s.jpgThe frantic voice in the message implored me to call him right away and as soon as possible because, 'I'm having a HUGE problem here and I REALLY NEED SOME HELP!! Please call me at 555-5555!!'

Hmmmm. Ok. It's gonna be kinda hard to call somebody back when you don't leave your FUCKING AREA CODE in the phone message. 'What an idiot' I said to no one in particular, since I was the only person awake at the time. Not only did this person neglect to leave his area code, but he also neglected to leave his company's name or the location that he was calling from, otherwise I could have found out his phone number by looking up his site in the customer database.

'What am I supposed to do here?' I asked myself. The choice was obvious. Since there was nothing I could do, go back to bed.

Shortly after returning to dream-land, I was awakened once again by that hated beep-beep-beep sound. I called in and got the message. It was the same person, this time sounding even more frantic, with a large dose of agitation thrown in over the fact that no one had called him back yet.

'I NEED HELP! Isn't this supposed to be TWENTY-FOUR HOUR SUPPORT?? What are we paying for here anyway?? Please call me at 555-5555!!'

The goddam idiot had once again, left a message with no area code, company name, or location.

Now, I should point out that all this occurred around the year 1996. There was no Google back then and there was no high-speed cable modem with a wireless network connection to my spiffy ultra-fast laptop. I had an Apple Powerbook 540 computer (company owned) running at a blazing 33 MHz and a 14k modem connection to my company's customer database. That was it. It was not like I could just go online and try to look up this guy's phone number. I think the computer I was using had this new fangled program called Netscape 2.0 installed on it...

Realizing that this customer was probably going to continue to call and leave angrier and angrier messages all night long, but not sure how to get back in touch with him, since I did not have his phone number, I was unsure what my next step should be at this point. I decided to sleep on it and see what would happen.

As expected, the beep-beep-beeper went off once again and it was my now very angry friend who was going to be calling my boss and his supervisor ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP if somebody did not call him back. Yeah, yeah yeah. Whatever... Guess what? STILL no area code or location in the message. 'I'm at 555-5555!'

I decided to try calling the phone operator to see if she could give me a list of area-codes that might match up with the prefix for the number the guy had left me.

douglaschip.bmp'Hello operator? Yeah, I'm wondering if you can help me. Someone is urgently trying to get in touch with me but they keep forgetting to tell me the area code in their messages. Is there any way I can find out the area codes that could go along with the number 555-5555?'

After a brief, 'what the hell?' like pause, thankfully, the operator was able to help me out. I got a fairly short list of area-codes to try and after several attempts and wrong numbers, I was eventually able to get back in touch with the now infuriated customer. Not too surprisingly, the location was somewhere in L.A.

The first thing the customer did was angrily ask me why the FUCK I did not call him back right away. I calmly explained to him that he had neglected to leave his area-code, company name or location in any of his messages and that I had to call a telephone operator to get a list of area-codes to try in conjunction with the phone number that he had given me, and that I had eventually hit upon the right one.


'What, you mean you're not in L.A.?' he asked.

'Ah, no. Try Boston.'


'Yeah. So how can I help you.'

'Oh. I figured it out myself. It was in the manual.'

Wishing for the customer's violent and painful death, I calmly and cheerily replied, 'Ok great! Well thanks for calling [company name] customer support. You have a good night,' I said, and proceeded to strangle the phone in the absence of this guy's neck.

I hated pager duty.



This story was inspired by M's computer troubles.

(Not that I think she is an idiot like my former customers)


well they were more like my computer troubles......

but it doesnt matter.

it is done


were most of the 3AM computer emergency calls dealing with porno?


'Oh. I figured it out myself. It was in the manual.'

I guess he decided to try that when he wasn't getting a call back, they should hide customer support numbers on a random page in the manual.


//were most of the 3AM computer emergency calls dealing with porno?//

You are close. Very close...

We used to have one guy that refused to pony up for training and would call us all day long. Drove us nuts. This is not 1-800 train-me I would say to him. Heh.


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