I keep a calendar. I imagine most people do.
I’m old enough to have lived through much of the development of the tool. I never chiseled one into stone tablets or printed on papyrus but I remember writing on a calendar hanging on the refrigerator door. I’ve used large blotter calendars and small books that fit in the breast pocket of my suit coat. I knew I’d reached the summit of the written calendar when I got my first daily planner, a “day timer”. I carried it around like an evangelist carries the Good Book.
Shortly before the turn of the century came the PDA. At first, it was just a variation of the same theme. One could still write on it, albeit with a stylus rather than a pencil, and one had to learn to make little symbols that it might, or might not, recognize as letters. It didn’t have a keyboard but it had a picture of a keyboard I could poke the stylus. I had to actually plug it into my computer to get the two to synchronize. Then came cellular and wireless technologies leading to the apotheosis that is the Smartphone. My days of wandering in the wilderness were behind me and I had reached the promised land. Ain’t technology grand …except when it’s not?
A small digression… One of the challenges of being a bit of a ‘culture vulture’ is that all the season tickets arrive at the same time. I diligently enter them all into the calendar. Every year, this process uncovers conflicts to be resolved. Sometimes it is a matter of necessity. It isn’t possible to enjoy two different events taking place at the same time in different venues. Sometimes it is just intellectual laziness. It is possible to watch a Metropolitan Opera broadcast in the morning and attend a Symphony concert that evening. I just don’t want to.
The resolution process takes a few days and, slowly but surely, theatre, opera, symphony, and ballet performances begin to mingle with the doctors, dentists, veterinarians, mechanics, contractors, house guests, airlines, restaurant reservations, birthdays, anniversaries and volunteer commitments that will become the fabric of my existence between Labor Day and Memorial Days.
This year the process was complicated dramatically by my email and calendar service provider. I am too much of a gentleman to mention them by name, of course.
Until last weekend, I used a certain company as my primary calendar repository. There is no particular reason I used them but my primary email account was there so I drifted toward their calendar. I could enter events on the desktop, laptop or iPhone and it would all be there. On a good day it was even visible to Harper’s Other Dad on his iPhone. The universe was at peace.
Last Sunday evening I was attempting to enter something into the calendar. I clicked ‘Save” and about 95% of my calendar entries disappeared. That it was only 95% is intriguing to me. Why would I lose a dentist appointment but retain a doctor’s appointment on the same date? Harper’s vet’s appointments were there but my monthly reminder to give her the heartworm pill had disappeared.
Not to worry, however, my service provider has a Help menu that clearly outlines steps to take to try to recover lost entries and, should those efforts fail, a procedure to request the events be restored by their skilled Customer Care Professionals. Whew!
Achieving no success with the self-help options, I dutifully submitted my request. I received an immediate auto-response acknowledging my request followed, a few hours later, by a note from “Audrey”. She apologized for this happening and suggested I follow the self-help options outlined in their user-friendly Help menu. I sent a cheerful and friendly reply, because I was asking for help and ‘one catches more flies with honey that with vinegar’. I explained I had already done these things and suggested she review the screen shot I’d included with my request.
A few hours later I received a note from “Joshua”; Audrey apparently had fled the pressure and joined the Witness Relocation Program. Joshua apologized for my inconvenience but was happy to report that all the calendar events had been successfully restored. This would have been cause for rejoicing had it been true.
In response to another, honey-like, note explaining that my calendar was unchanged, I received a reply from “Julia”. I guess Joshua was off to the Foreign Legion. Julia assured me that the calendar truly had been restored and reminding me that it can take up to 24 hours from them to appear. Reminding is in italics because I had never been told that. She didn’t offer any insight into when the 24 hours might have begun or would end but it waited.
The next day, when Julia’s assurances proved overly optimistic, I replied to her note, still cheerful & friendly, overflowing with honey, explaining that it had been more than 24 hours and there was no change. I received a reply from “Ryan”. I think Julia had left to join the cast of “The Real Customer Care Reps of Silicon Valley”, soon to be seen on Bravo.
Ryan assured me that my calendar was, indeed, restored as he had reviewed my current calendar and there was more on it than appeared on the screen shot I’d sent. He suggested the problem might be with my browser. He was using the most current update of Firefox.
I’m an Internet Explorer user on my desktop PC but, in the spirit of leaving no stone unturned, I checked my calendar in Safari,…and Chrome,… and Firefox. The calendar was identical in all four browsers. All matched the screen shot I sent with my service request. No improvement.
Replying back to Ryan, more freakin’ honey, I thanked him for his browser suggestion but explained the outcome. I asked if he might send me a screen short of what he was looking at. Ryan, who clearly had game his previous colleagues lacked, responded that he had looked again and determined there was a problem with the restoration and he was referring the matter to their highly skilled Engineers for analysis and resolution. He could not offer an ETA but invited me to respond if I had any additional information that might assist the Engineers in their work.
Ryan’s note was well timed. It arrived just as I’d realized that, in addition to the Calendar entries, I’d also lost an undetermined number of entries from my Contacts list, as well as a slew of emails. I responded back that this might be helpful to the Engineers to know. At least I was now confident the issue was not user error since I was not aware of any combination of keystrokes that would dump most of my Calendar, part of my Contacts, and some of my Email while bypassing both the recycle bin and the trash folder.
The next note, from “Phillip”, indicated that Engineers were working tirelessly to assist me and would get back to him as soon as possible. No explanation was offered but I believe Ryan may have ignored the restraining order and followed Audrey to a new community.
I followed the steps outlined in the Help menu to request the Contacts and Email be restored, two separate requests. I received a quick response telling me the Contacts could not be retrieved but they had restored my email. Within a couple of hours I had just under 2000 emails in my inbox dating back to 2008.
I sent Phillip a note, more bee vomit, advising him that the Contacts and Email issues were resolved, so to speak, but the Calendar was still not resolved. I received a note in response from “Matthew”, Phillip having run off to join the circus, telling me the Engineers work was complex and might take some time.
I recreated the calendar as much as possible using a different provider. If I ever get anything from the original provider I will compare it to the new calendar to see if I missed anything.
Should I ever hear but Matthew or his descendants again I may have to try a new approach. Where is that vinegar?