17 February 2017

Possibly the most frustrating two weeks of my life.

I own a small business.  No employees; just me by myself.  I operate scientific instruments that allow me to find things underground.  How I ended up here is a much longer story, but I've been doing this thing on my own now since the end of 2010.

On Tuesday, January 31 of this year, one of my primary electronic instruments suffered a hardware failure that rendered it inoperable.  It took another 48 hours to acquire the proper authorization to return the instrument to it's place of origin, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, for repairs.  Then it took another five days, due to a weekend, to reach it's destination.

Last Friday, February 10, I finally received a repair estimate and immediately signed, scanned, and returned the authorization form.  I also received a credit card information form used to pay the technicians for their work.  Obviously I wasn't going to fill out all the information and return the form to them as a blank check, so I withheld that bit of paperwork for later.

This time of year in my business can be fairly slow when the weather is cold and wet outside, but thanks to the very real phenomenon of human-induced climate change, temperatures here have been reaching into the sixty and seventy degrees Fahrenheit range for most of the last few weeks.  In other words, it's warm; people are working. Projects are moving forward, and my phone has been ringing constantly since the day after the equipment failed.

I probably watched four to six thousand dollars pass me by over the last two weeks, from clients who couldn't afford to wait.  I've also amassed more than a week's worth of work from clients who willing to wait.  When work piles up, I get stressed out.  I don't like leaving people waiting and having obligations hanging over my head.  I prefer to get things done and keep moving to sitting still, and that's almost all I've done since the first of the year.

So Wednesday afternoon, I got desperate for answers.  I tried calling and kept reaching voicemail boxes, and Canadians don't like to make international telephone calls, apparently.  My emails were not responded to consistently either.  The few times I did get a response it seemed as if no one on the other end could read English, because the answers I was getting didn't match any of my queries.

Desperate, I finally called again and literally begged the receptionist to put me through to the CEO to help me save my business.  She put me through to one of the people I had been emailing instead, and I explained all of the above to her.

Finally something clicked!  She checked my work order and said they would be able to ship it back to me on Thursday (yesterday), with delivery scheduled before noon today.

Late last evening I received a tracking number and receipt.  This morning, I checked the package and it had already made it to Memphis, Tennessee, but stalled at a customs checkpoint.  Someone in Canada hadn't dotted every "i" and crossed every "t" just right.

So now I'm sitting here, a little over two hours left until noon, refreshing the tracking page constantly, waiting for my livelihood to come home so I can get back to work.  I feel like I have been held hostage for a month.