Before I came to terms and self-acceptance with my truth, I spent over forty years working as a design engineer and engineering manager. I used to think as each Friday rolled around, and usually by noontime, most people would start to relax and unwind and get ready for the weekend. I quickly learned that this was not necessarily the way things were in that world I was in. Friday's became a day of wariness, dread and I always found myself on high alert, before the all clear signal rang and I was able to even consider the weekend was a possibility.
Some of you may know what I am referring to; what I call the "Friday at 3PM problem." When this happened, all bets, all plans were off. Disappointment took over for my family, and me and almost never could be explained or repaired. This more often happened when I worked in various start up companies, but also was part of the culture in larger established companies. The company, the project, the schedule, the customer, always came first. Yet, this was the life, the career that I chose. It never really mattered if this happened on a regular basis or not -- the possibility of it was always in the air, and the threat of disappointment was always heavy each Friday.
I have been out of the tech world for a little over two years as I am writing this, but last week, I had one of those problems that occurred just before a long weekend was approaching. Last Wednesday around 3 PM. This was the afternoon before Thanksgiving so it certainly fits the "Friday at 3PM problem" definition. I found that a very important financial accounting file I need was corrupted. Yes, I was triggered, and what made matters worse, I knew that I have been lax in keeping a back up file (please do not lecture me as to whether if I have learned anything after 40 years in engineering -- I feel crappy enough about this).
The good part about being somewhat removed from my previous life, is that I was able to ignore the problem during Thursday and Friday of the holiday, but I knew there was a phone call that I was dreading to make. Yes I was really dreading it for so many reasons.
So many reasons!
• I was using an application that was old and no longer supported... I would need to purchase an upgrade and have been avoiding this for some time
• It was pretty embarrassing to admit I had no backup file
• It was an application used by The Tiffany Club, and registered to another person, long gone from the club, and I was not even certain what name it was registered under, so I knew I would need to explain about TCNE being a transgender support group
• Calling any customer service line is always an adventure and a test of my voice with the risk of being mis-gendered over the phone, and then to see where that adventure may lead. So far my record seems to be 50-50 on how I am responded to by gender, even with stating my name as Grace.... This in itself is an interesting phenomenon....
On Saturday morning I went to the Microsoft store in a local mall where I have built a relationship with some of the peeps there, and although he cleaned up my PC a little, he could not access the corrupted file and told me what I already knew -- and dreaded -- I would need to call the Customer Support number. I struggled a little longer; trying to put it off some more, while looking at the website where it said available 24/7. It was around 3PM on Saturday afternoon that I took a deep breath, started to dial the number...
Each of my concerns above was realized during the call, but one by one, I/we got through them and then something totally unexpected happened, something that was so miraculous, it totally restored my faith in humanity, I just have to share it with you.
I was connected to a support person. She had a pleasant voice but it was pretty clear we were going through the standard script. I provided my name, but was still getting a response of "sir." I let this go a few times as I thought it was not the main purpose of the call (you might think differently on this.) I was able to find the license number of the application software. I did have to explain TCNE as a transgender support group and go through possible male and female names for the original buyer. Luckily I found the person's old email address that provided the required confirmation. Then the adventure really began.
I corrected the technician the next time I was "sir'ed" and received genuine apology. I asked if she was familiar with transgender people and she clearly was, and sounded knowledgeable and supportive, so that provided a great sense of relief that I would get through this. As expected I needed to purchase an upgrade package, and asked if she could just download it for me. She took control of my PC and it appeared that the download would take over an hour to complete. As she watched and controlled my PC she started to ask me what kind of work that TCNE did as a support group. This was totally unexpected and so much better than music on hold for an hour. She told me how difficult it was for people in her area that were "different." I asked her where she was. I was shocked to learn that she was in the Philippines and it was almost 4 in the morning for her. We chatted for a while and shared and learned so much about each other while this software was downloading. I shared my website and pointed her to some of my blogs. We learned we are so very different yet, we both have a similar center of love and acceptance even when those around us may not have these same beliefs. We connected in a number of ways during this download.
I have made a new friend, halfway across the world.
Not only did I download a new application, I downloaded a new friend.
Perhaps those Friday at 3PM problems are not so bad after all!
Grace Stevens is a transgender woman who transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is a father of three, grandparent of two, athlete, advocate and author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her personal struggle to transition and live her true life authentically as a woman. Grace is available for speaking about authentic living with Living on-TRACK, and Gender Variance Education and Training. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .