As someone who adores language--from the everyday nuts and bolts of grammar, to the infinite nuances that can be shaped to impart meaning--and readily admits to taking liberties with words for my own amusement whenever I darn well please, I'm always intrigued when fresh ideas show up in our collective vocabulary. As a recent illustration, take the term"adulting": although it technically breaks the rules (I know, I know, "English"...and "rules"? Bah!) by turning a noun into a verb, I can totally get behind it, because it's clear, understandable, and actually a compact way to convey something that previously required more words--such as "behaving like an adult". Anyway, I digress (shocker!)...my point was going to be that Derek has been getting some quality practice lately in...adulting.
After he got his driver's license, for example, the heretofore simple reality of his life suddenly took on more layers--some of which included the delightful "freedom"...and also its muuuuch less fun cousin..."responsibility". In this brave new world, his father, while cooking dinner and realizing that there was no relish to put on the hotdogs, could simply send Derek out to the grocery store to remedy the situation. Another instance: Derek arrived home from school and showed me his taped-together glasses (which caused an immediate panic, since I leaped to the conclusion that he'd broken a lens....and those suckers are NOT cheap).
He first calmed my hysteria by assuring me that it was nothing more serious than a screw having fallen out during class. (To which I couldn't resist sarcastically asking him if he'd been...thinking too hard. Hey, it didn't seem that farfetched, to be honest..."Teenage Boy Brain", yeah?) So I was immensely relieved by the fact that it was an easy (and free!) fix...but at the same time entirely unenthused about making the trek to My Eye Doctor at 4:30 on a weekday. (I mean, it's not D.C. traffic, or anything, but still...) And then I remembered...he could go All. By. Himself! Yaaaayyy!
Then there are other aspects of growing up that are perhaps equally as necessary, but not nearly so...pleasant. Case in point: Derek just navigated through--with supervision--his very first (drumroll) Customer Service experience. (Yes, I agree that we who have been at this adulting thing for a while should pause for a sympathy groan, here...all right, onward...) What happened was, his PlayStation just...quit working. One afternoon it was fine, the next it wouldn't turn on--or do anything else, for that matter. And for the first time in his 16 years, I informed him that, since this was his toy, he would be taking care of the problem.
And guess what he did? That's right: absolutely NOTHING...for at least a solid month. Now, I'm not sure if he was merely uncertain about how to proceed (although of course I told him I'd help--I didn't think it was fair to make him completely figure it out on his own...this time, anyway...) or lazy/unmotivated (which seems as likely a reason as any). Or was there some part of him that was waiting for ME to get impatient and just go ahead and do it for him (because his mother is Type A and tends to manage...stuff...with brutal efficiency, and he is well aware of that. But I was proud of myself--I held my ground until he finally decided to take the initiative. I win! Or whatever...)
So he did what the kids these days do, and attempted to glean the necessary information from the Internet. Notice I say "attempted" because after a while he came to me, frustrated, and railed about how "the Sony website is extremely unhelpful!" Apparently he wasn't able to find a phone number, or an email address...or anything else to lead him in the right direction. At this point I gathered it was time for some...Parental IT Support (which sounds like an oxymoron, right? Yet it happened...) and went to the computer for my own...Google intervention.
I'm not kidding--in however long it takes to return search results (what is it, like .15 seconds or something?) I had obtained a viable telephone number for him. He appeared astonished at my skill (or, you know, that an old person found a solution so quickly, using modern technology)...while I confess that I felt a bit...smug. "What did you Google?" he asked in disbelief. "Um...Sony PlayStation service?" It seemed perfectly logical to me...I didn't even think to inquire as to what HE'D typed in, that gave him back such a poor outcome. So Mom takes the Google battle, and we move on...
Next I promised that I'd stand by while he made the call. Oh, and I did step in to print the receipt from when we'd purchased the system (thank you for saving the day with your awesome policy of keeping all transaction records electronically, Amazon) and to show him where to locate the serial number, so he'd be 100% prepared to talk to a live representative. When he got connected, he did have to deal with the dreaded "your call is very important to us, please hold"...but fortunately not for too long. (After all, there's plenty of time for him to learn about that particular nightmare, later...) Then he spoke with a (reportedly) nice lady, who tried what she could, remotely, to get the machine to cooperate..before walking him through the process to send it in for repair.
Whew, he was really getting the whole Customer Service spectrum, yeah? So he provided his own email, noted the instructions, and that was that. First, a box was supposed to show up on our doorstep in 3-5 days--which it did. (So far, so good...) Next, we used the enclosed packing materials to safely cushion the console, filled out the form to send back with it, taped it up, and shipped it out. In a couple of days Derek mentioned that they'd contacted him to let him know they'd received it. Whaaat? Excellent news...dare we be...impressed? Believe it or not, it gets better--after only another day or so they declared that Mr. PS4 had successfully completed his...um..."rehabilitation", and was already on his way back (hopefully with an improved attitude).
WELL! For a first timer, that was a darn near ideal interaction with the realm of Client Relations, wouldn't you agree? I'm grateful that he had the chance to be "eased in" to such an event, because as we..."more mature" people well understand, these types of...opportunities...pop up on a regular basis in one's lifetime, and not all of them turn out to be so...satisfying. I'd call it a good trial run, and we'll keep our fingers crossed for the reward of a fully-functioning game system, when it shows up early this week. Heeeyyy...he did such a good job as a...Probationary Adult...maybe the next time I have an issue with one of our bills, I'll have HIM call. (Mwah hah hah--welcome to the club, son!)