Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cell phones, Tech support, Red wine, and Baby Hamsters

It has been a while since I posted. This is because settling into life in Iceland has been a roller coaster ride of challenges, filled with ups and downs. I avoided posting because I didn't want to sound whiny or complain too much. However, I will eventually take the time to review the past several months and present those challenges in a more diplomatic way, along with the fun things we did and pictures from trips, etc. Today's post, however, will be a more light-hearted undertaking.

I got a job working in tech support for one of the communications companies here in Iceland. I answer the phone all day and... support people... technologically. The good part of the job is that I get to simultaneously play on the internet and occasionally solve a problem for a friendly person in need of help. The bad part of the job is that I also have to talk to complete jerks and often people who have no clue about computers at all. And I don't mean to say that I'm some whiz kid. I mean people who cannot find the address bar in their web browser. People who, when I tell them to open Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, have no idea what I'm talking about. People who call to ask me how to download Skype, when that is not my job, and then it turns out they thought that Skype was an Icelandic company that uses .is instead of .com in its web address. People who, when you tell them to restart their cable box, tell you that they already did and then it turns out that they meant that they did it last week. Then there are people who think that all they have to do is yell at me enough until they reach some unspecified quota which will prompt me to push a magical button that instantly fixes everything, or dispatch the special emergency technician we keep on hand for just their sort of problem, who sits waiting in his car, willing them to be just rude enough that we can finally release him from the parking lot and over to their house to fix their television. I have hung up on two customers since I started working there in August. And each time was glorious. No regrets!

One of the things I miss is having ready access to my friends and family on my cell phone. I only have a few friends here, and we don't really chat that much on the phone because we're either all working at the same time, or we really only chat in person, or we don't want to use up all of the money on our prepaid phones. When I lived in the States I usually called my mom at least once a day but often several times a day, just to chat, usually on my lunch break at work and then sometimes in the evenings. I'm a communicator, I like to keep in touch. I also sent a lot of texts to my friends all around the country, if something reminded me of them or if I heard something really funny or if I just wanted to say hi. But since I moved here and cannot do that, I transferred all of my daily phone chatting energy over to Aggi, my boyfriend. The poor man takes the brunt of it. Let me give you some examples.

Now, Aggi is a musician, not only at heart but professionally too, his current band has put out two albums here in Iceland and toured in Europe, and so have previous bands that he's been in. But for day-to-day work and money he works outdoors doing manual labor, mainly doing cement and pavement work (by hand!) and also laying pipes for fiber optic cables, and many other things that he tells me about but I only vaguely remember because I have ADD. The point is that, usually, when I call him, he is in the middle of a major project involving heavy machinery, drills, pipes, carrying things, digging things, cement mixers, work gloves, boots, and other big strong manly equipment (no pun intended). But, being the wonderful boyfriend that he is, when he hears the phone ring or feels it buzzing away in his pocket, he will stop what he's doing and check to see if it's me, and if it is, 9.99 times out of ten, he answers. Even if he has to transfer some huge pile of equipment he's carrying to precariously balance it in one arm, endangering himself and risking injury, to do so. When he answers, it's me saying things like...

"Isn't purple great? I was thinking we should get something purple for the apartment, like maybe a scented candle! Do you like grape or lavender better?"
"I saw a bird! It was so cute and little and round! I just wanted to squeeze it! It was kind of black with a white spot somewhere. Do you know what those are called? Do you remember if we have any more peanut butter at home? Okay thanks honey, byyyyeee!"
"Oh nothing, I'm just eating lunch... and thought I'd call... just to say hi... What? Oh, you're busy? Oh, ok. Just one more thing! What do you think about Florida? Yeah, should we move there? Do you know if it's expensive? Yeah me neither. Okaysorrybye!"
"How do you say, 'I am going to have to end this phone call if you continue to speak to me in this manner,' in Icelandic?"
"Omigosh I thought of the cuuuuutest thing we could get for Sprinkles! Do you think he would get sick if he chewed on one of those castles they make for fish tanks?"

Sprinkles is our hamster. One night I had a glass or two (or four) of wine while I was home waiting for Aggi to come back from band practice, and I was talking to my friends on skype and missing them, and wishing that I had more friends here to hang out with. And then I got annoyed. And then I had another glass of wine. And then I decided to buy myself a pet. I had repeatedly asked Aggi if we could get a small dog for me to stave off my loneliness, and he pointed out that not only is he allergic to most dogs, but we do not have the space or the time to dedicate to a dog, and what would we do with it if we ever wanted to move out of the country? He was right. But I was tipsy.

So I went onto this website they have here called bland.is, which is basically a classifieds website, sort of like craigslist.com but without prostitutes. I went to the pets section and saw a little dog for sale, a Chinese crested/Chihuahua mix. I wanted to ask how much she cost, but I didn't have an account, so I couldn't post a comment. But I tried anyway, thinking that maybe I could sign in as a guest. Lo and behold, when I attempted to write a comment, it turned out that Aggi already had an account and had saved his login information to our computer! I signed in and asked how much it cost. Then I found some guinea pigs and asked how much they cost. I kept going until I found an listing about a litter of baby hamsters for sale. I had hamsters as a kid and they looked so tiny and cute, I had to have one. I staked my claim on one of the males that were still available, and went to bed.

When I woke up in the morning, I left for work like nothing had happened, although I remembered what I had done (I wasn't that tipsy, geeze!). I checked back on the website, and saw that the owner of the hamsters had responded to my comment, saying that she would reserve the baby for us, "young nr. 7". I called Aggi and told him what I had done.  He wasn't exactly excited, but I promised that I would take good care of the pet, and that I wanted a little animal to play with during the long, dark winter, and that if we decided to move overseas I would simply hide the critter in my purse and hope that airport security wouldn't notice a living, breathing rodent on the x-ray screen.

So now we have a hamster! His name is Sir Sprinkles Robsalot Name-Name-Name. Sprinkles because he's a hamster and he should have a sickeningly cute first name, and Sir Robsalot after my good friend Rob whom I've nicknamed "Sir Robsalot" for no reason in particular. He has my last name followed by my boyfriend's last name, which is Danish and already comes with a hyphen. So he has a double hyphen! This made us realize that if we ever have kids we're going to have to just choose one last name per kid, although we will alternate between my name and his, to be fair. Two hyphens is just too much.

Anyway, here is a picture of the little guy that the breeder took just before we brought him home! He's getting bigger and is lots of fun and lets us pick him up and everything. I'm going to get him one of those plastic hamster balls that you put them in which allows them to walk around the house without getting lost. Isn't he cute?!

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