Tuesday, January 24, 2012

black market greyhound

so i'm away from home, right, and i've booked a greyhound ticket for next week so i can get home.  but i wasn't able to print the ticket before i left home, just the email confirming the online order and a reference number.

i took all that to the greyhound depot this morning, so i can get the ticket before the bus leaves next week.  there's nothing more frustrating than trying to get onto a bus and not being able to, at the last minute.  the guy at the counter looks up my reference number on his computer and says he can't print the ticket because the computer says it's already been printed.  but i wasn't able to print it, i tell him.  well too bad, he says (in a friendly way), you'll have to figure out how to print it.

okay, so what's the difference between me printing a ticket more than once, or him?  i mean, i haven't printed the ticket yet but what if i had?  he's telling me i can go print it again?  and again?  but he, the greyhound employee, is not able to print the ticket at all?

i guess it was kinda stupid to choose the "print at home" option when i don't own a printer.  but i intentionally don't own a printer, on principle.  i figured i could print the ticket to a pdf file, like i do with everything else, then transfer the pdf file to an external stick and take it to a print station at the university and print on tree free paper.  why should everyone in the world own a printer?  but no.  when i hit the "print ticket" key on the greyhound website, i wasn't given any options about where i want to print the document.  it didn't ask me which printer, or in what format, or what size, or anything.  it just sat there and said nothing.  so, instead, i printed the email confirmation to a pdf file, and took that to the university and printed it, assuming i could just show it to the greyhound people and it'd all be taken care of.

how was i to know that any failed attempt to print the ticket results in a "this ticket has already been printed" status in the greyhound computer, and that they'd refuse to do anything except give me an 800 number to call.

so i called the 800 number and explained what happened.  the guy told me i shouldn't have chosen that option since i don't have a printer.  yeah, no kidding.  i was referred to a different 800 number.  i called the second time.  you have to print the ticket, the guy said with a thick accent.  but i can't, i told him, i'm away from home and i don't have a printer.  well take your computer to the library and go to the website and call me from there and i'll walk you through it, the guy said.  but i don't have a cell phone, i told the guy.  then take your computer to a friend's house and print it on their printer, he said.  but i don't know anyone around here, i told him, i'm away from home.  well then i can't help you, he said.


i told him that's the most ridiculous thing i've ever heard and i want to talk to someone else.  he said they'll just tell me the same thing.

of course i realize he's just a tech support guy, somewhere in a distant land, probably having a little laugh at the irony of the situation.  here i am, in what's known as the first world, telling someone who's probably in what's known as the third world, that i can't follow his tech advice because i'm the one who doesn't have the technology.  i thanked him for his efforts and hung up.

what to do.  the people whose house i'm minding have a computer and a printer, perhaps they won't mind if i give it a try from there.  i tested the printer to make sure it works, and went onto the greyhound website and found the page and entered all my information again.  again the page just stared at me.  no error message, nothing.  no way to know why it's not printing the ticket except, perhaps, the obvious.  i've already tried to print the ticket!!!  maybe i'm a greyhound counterfeiter, printing lots of tickets so i can scalp them to the locals.  but wait ... the guy said i'd be able to print it if only i could find a computer and a printer that work.

there was a message on the page to make sure the computer has adobe version 8 or greater, maybe that's the problem.  nope, my friends have version 9.  i try it again.  again, no error message, nothing.  i try the printer again and yes, it's working.  i was able to print the web page.  i call the 800 number again.

a woman this time, her accent sounded mexican or south american, suggests maybe i've got the computer set to not allow pop up windows.  i'll need to change that, she says.  it's not my computer, i say, but after some time i find the place in the web browser where i can temporarily change that setting and allow for pop up windows.  i press the button again, and voila ... my ticket starts printing.  i thank her and ask her where she is.  no reply, she asks me if there's anything else she can help me with.  i say i'm just curious, i'd like to know which country she's in.  no reply.  i guess you're not allowed to tell me, i say.  she politely says goodbye and thanks me for calling greyhound.

i still don't get the logic.  a greyhound employee standing in front of me can't print my ticket because the system says it's already been printed, but a greyhound employee in some distant land can help me print my ticket.  i haven't tried, but i'm guessing i could go to that "reprint ticket" page and print it again.  and again.

i guess it's true, corporations are good at job creation.  i'm glad all those tech support people have jobs in all those far away lands.  but, in retrospect, next time i'll insist on buying my ticket live and in person, from a canadian employee standing in front of me, and save myself the headache associated with trying to figure out corporate logic.