Friday, February 28, 2014

Real Conversations with the AT&T Support Center

Hello all, this is a guest post from Travis as this story just had to be told.  You'll have to forgive Miriam for not posting lately, as wedding planning has kicked into a higher gear.  

Yesterday (Thursday) Miriam left home for the arctic one final time before the wedding. Flights this time have gone without a hitch and she has now arrived safely in Alaska, with plenty of time to spare. While she had cell service, she was actually able to text me for a bit.  One message caught me off guard however. "Dunno if you'll get this.... I just got a message that my data is turned off due to high international charges."

This entirely confused me.  For those how aren't certain, Deadhorse, one of the closer towns to Miriam's rig, is about 300 miles from the Canadian border, as the crow flies.  There is no way her phone is bouncing off a Canadian tower, and certainly not a Russian tower as that's over a 1000 miles away. So she forwards me the message and I call AT&T for her, as I'm at home for the night, and her signal is spotty.

Within 5 minutes I am on the line with the International Charges support line.  A very polite woman answers and asks me what exactly the problem is, and I explain the situation.  Luckily, Miriam and I already share phone service, otherwise this would have been a much bigger problem.

AT&T: "Well just let me pull up her data history real quick...... Ok sir, you say she is in Alaska? I have most recent data pinging off of a tower in..... Moroshskas? Norofjakfs?  Nicrohfpsjf?"

At this point she is just talking gibberish, unable to pronounce this area.  My first thought is that she's trying to pronounce a city in the Far East Region of Russia, but I'm not completely sure.

Me: "Well Ma'am, that can't be right, she's in Deadhorse Alaska.  Hundreds of miles from the nearest border."

AT&T: " Now sir, I have to ask, are you sure your fiancee went to Alaska? Because that's not what I'm seeing."

Me: "Yes, I am sure she's there, she's certainly not international, she doesn't even have a passport...."

AT&T: "Ok sir, let me put you on hold for a moment and speak with my supervisor."

This is a pretty quick conversation, maybe five minutes or less.

AT&T: "Thank you for holding Mr. Howard. So what I'm showing is that you currently have $630 worth of data charges on your account.  We understand that that there has been a confusion here, so what we can do is waive these fees by you purchasing the international data package for $30."

At this point, I'm a little bit mad.

Me: "No ma'am.  I will not purchase an international package. Miriam hasn't left this country in over 5 years. She is no where near a border.  There is a problem with your system, and I will not be paying any fees."

AT&T: "I understand sir.  Now I do want to ask again, are you sure your fiancee isn't out of the country?? I'm showing..... Nicarasdfjsdflj...... I really don't know how to pronounce it. But it's a country in South America."

My only guess is that this woman means Nicaragua, which is even more confusing, as this is where Miriam's father is from, and she has quite a bit of family there.

Me: "No she's not in South America.  We're talking about tens of thousands of miles away from where she is.  If she can be bouncing off a tower that far away, I need to complain about the dead spot in my bathroom."

AT&T: "Ok sir, can you tell me when she left for Alaska?"

Me: "Of course, she left Spokane Washington yesterday at 3:00 PM.  She's been flying since then, and stopped in Portland, Seattle, and Anchorage before reaching the arctic."

AT&T: "Ok sir, and when will she leave Alaska and be back in the country?"

Me: "She get's back on the........ Wait? Back in the country?? Alaska is a STATE. She is still in the US.  She never left!!!!"

AT&T: "I understand...... Then when will she be home?"

At this point I really don't want to get into the mess that is the wedding travel, and the fact that she won't actually come home for almost 5 weeks.

Me: "She gets back to Washington on March 14th."

AT&T: "Ok sir, there seems to be a problem, as her history doesn't match up with what you are saying. I'm going to need to transfer you to our Technical Services line.  Now, I do want to warn you, they are experiencing a very high call load, so I will have to place you on hold for a bit."

At this point, I am confused and a little bit tired of people insinuating that my soon to be wife has run off to South America and had the audacity to text me about her cell phone bill.  I decided to grab a glass and pour myself a few fingers of whiskey to sip on while I wait.  And it's a good think I did, because 20 minutes of texting Miriam in tropical Nicaragua Alaska later, I finally reached someone in Tech Services.

AT&T: "Hello Mr. Howard, what can I help you with?"

At this point I launch into a long story, and probably overwhelm the poor man with information that he didn't need, but frankly, I needed to remind myself of the situation because it had been so long.

AT&T: "Hmmmm, well sir, I've been reviewing your account, and I have to say, I have no clue what my co-worker was looking at.  I show her leaving Spokane, and currently in our Arctic Slope service area. And I see no charges on your account.  I do see that her data was suspended, but that must have been an error.  I've reset the suspension and you should be good to go."

Me: "Wait, that's it?? She's not in South America, and her data is turned on? And no charges??"

AT&T: "Yup, should be back to buisness as usual.  Let us know if somehow you get a charge, and we'll reverse it, but everything should be ok."

Me: "Oh.... Well.... perfect then. Ummmm..... Thanks?"

AT&T: "Of course sir, have a great day.  Thank you for calling AT&T Support."


And that was it, 48 minutes later and we determined where Miriam was. I'm still a little dumb founded, and the fact that Nicaragua of all places was brought up makes it even more confusing.  But Miriam's data has been turned on, and everything is fixed.  Now if only should could use it up there.......  

Note from Miriam:
I am most certainly not in Nicaragua. I'm definitely in the far away  "country" of Alaska. And my employers could vouch for me. This does make me question the existence of Dopelgangers and/or time travel. That's the only explanation I have.  That would also explain today's dinner. Apparently it's thanksgiving on the rig as I am eating a meal of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Luckily I don't actually mind this because I love stuffing. I do feel like I'm having a surreal day though. Clearly the next three weeks until the wedding won't be ordinary!

Monday, February 10, 2014

New News: New Rigs And New Additions

This hitch I was switched to a new rig. It's an exploratory well. Which means we are far outside of Deadhorse.  And this is a well drilled to see how well this particular area produces, hence, exploration.  Since I am a contractor, working on a different rig means working with different companies. So a bit of a different routine and change in paperwork. Which means it is taking me a bit to catch up and reorient myself. Additionally this means I am working with different mud engineers. So far they have been laid back, nice, and very helpful. However I don't ever work at the same time as any of them, so I won't get to know them as well as my old night engineer buddies. Luckily my old engineering mentors are often working the same time as me and don't mind a middle of the night inquiry about something mud related. Also, the rig layout is totally different than my previous rig. Luckily, this rig is a lot easier to get around. It is much smaller and has less stairs and confusing turns. All the third party contractors are in there own little buildings. Now that means I am alone in my little office/lab building a lot of the time. I still go wander around especially when we are busy and I need to be checking up on things and communicating with everyone but the majority of my time is in my little box.  Its probably 20 ft long by 8 ft wide. The width is just long enough to hold a bed at one end of the lab. I don't sleep here though, it is just a leftover from the times when just one engineer worked on a well. They would sleep on site when they weren't working so they would still be available for the important things. Now that there are two engineers on duty, sleeping is frowned upon. The rest of my box (I would call it a cubicle but it isn't technically a cube. I might call it a boxicle because it sounds more fun. Technically, it is a rectangular prism. I suppose I could call it my prism, but that might cause a misunderstanding and imply I am in prison. But it is a funny pun....I will decide what to call my boxicle prism later. Apologies for getting carried away with this parathesis.) is my desk along one wall with my mud testing equipment lined up against the other. I even have a window, however it looks out at a different little box and is covered with a blanket for added insulation. So I still don't see much of the sun, and I wouldn't even if I had an open window with a view as the nights are still dark. I do get to see the sun when I arrive and leave work. It still is a tad bleak, more flat and white and ferociously cold than anything else. So sometimes I take a few Vitamin D pills and sit in front of my space heater and dream about being on a tropical island. I did hear there are 4 (!) women on this rig. I haven't met them all, I believe a couple work during the day. But it surprised me since that seems like a lot comparatively. But it was exciting to hear that. My least favorite part of my new cell service whatsoever and no internet except at work. Which means not only am I bored out of my mind at camp, but it's also lonely not being able to stay in regular contact with my family and Travis. I am working on emailing everyone during slow times when I have a break. But that is always an unpredictable method of communication. And it also means I can't add a picture to this blog post. I'm hoping that's a fact my readers can forgive.

And for not rig news....Travis and I are expanding our little family by one!  We are excited to add a sure to be adorable little one after the wedding. Not sure if it will be a boy or girl but either is fine with us, we are just happy to be getting a little bundle of joy and happiness.  I'm excited to announce we are....not pregnant. I hope I fooled at least someone for a second. But we are planning on getting a puppy after the wedding.  In fact we were second in line to get a female Leonberger puppy but the litter was so small, we didn't make it high enough on the list which made me very sad. This was our top breed on our list we were considering but they are a rare enough dog that we probably won't get another chance at one for a while. They are massive dogs that look like lions, but they are know to be really sweet. We planned on naming one Mufassa or Nala.  Since Leonbergers aren't likely to happen for us soon, we are looking instead at Mastiffs (our joint second pick), Newfoundland (my personal pick), and Saint Bernards (Travis's pick).  We plan on chatting with breeders of these three dogs and seeing who has puppies available in the near future. And whichever of these works out is just the dog we are destined to end up with. When in doubt, let the universe decide.