The Maroon 5th Circle of Hell

Everyone has a limit.  A point beyond which, if pushed, they are destined to break.  For some, they stumble across their breaking point when they least expect it.  Not me.  I know all too well the thing that sends my spirit into freefall, generally eviscerating my will to live.  For some it’s the sight of a sodden kitten caught in rainstorm.  Others can’t stand the thought of an impending nuclear holocaust.  But, for me at least, it’s the music of Maroon 5.

Normally, I’d write something here about ‘not wanting to offend any fans of Maroon 5’.  But if I’m being honest, I do.  There’s something about their highly-preened soft-rock stylings that gets me completely offside.  It’s not that they rub me the wrong way; it’s that the thought of the physical contact necessary to rub me in any direction at all that gives me the heebie-jeebies. It’s music that’s custom-made for carparks and shopping malls.  Like Nickelback but with a better haircut and a higher voice.

I had rung my internet service provider for the simple reason that I had no internet.  The way I see it, they’ve only got one job and they were failing terribly.  They weren’t much better at running a call centre.  When you ring a call centre, they do everything they can to talk you out of it.  The experience begins with a recording, featuring a voice solemnly intoning that wait times are ‘longer than usual’ as a result of a ‘high volume of calls’.  If that’s not enough, they then offer you the option of a ‘call back’, so that instead of wasting time on hold, you get to suffer the indignity of them ringing you at the least convenient moment possible.  

I wasn’t going to give up that easily.  I hung on.

Then things turned nasty.  Without warning, I was put on hold.  Generally, hold music falls into two distinct categories – there’s the ‘corporate loop’ message, where a musical tidbit is played incessantly whilst someone who sounds so upbeat that they must not be on hold tells you all kinds of useless information about the company.  These information morsels generally begin with ‘did you know?’ and then tell you that instead of being stuck on hold and visibly ageing as you wait, you could submit your query online instead.  Which, of course, would be true if the reason for calling was for something other than the fact of not having any internet.

But corporate shoutouts are one thing.  What happened to me next was an entirely different level of inanity.  As the voiceover segued into music, I was suddenly and unexpectedly confronted by the sounds of ‘She Will be Loved’ by Maroon 5.  On a loop.  Which, if you’re on hold for the best (or worst) part of forty minutes, is quite the experience.  

In Dante’s Inferno, some people mistakenly think the fifth circle of hell is wrath, made up of a swamp.  Those people are wrong.  The fifth circle of hell consists exclusively of the music of Maroon 5 in all its steaming, sulphuric glory.  

Ordinarily, if exposed to the music of Maroon 5, I’d take evasive action.  If that means jumping from a moving vehicle because ‘Moves Like Jagger’ comes on the radio, so be it.  Hot asphalt at twenty miles an hour is still preferable to having to sit through ‘Moves Like Jagger’.  But this time there was nowhere to jump to that wouldn’t cost me my place in the queue.

After what seemed like and may well have been an eternity, I was put through to someone who gave me ten different versions of ‘have you tried turning it off and on again?’  After an exhaustive exchange that included everything from trying to reset the modem using a paper clip, to jumping up and down on one leg and chanting, I was no closer to having internet.

I’ll admit I was cranky.  When the very cheery person on the other end of the line asked whether I had any feedback, I took my chance.  First of all, I checked to make sure that our call was being recorded for quality and training purposes.  When he confirmed it was, I unloaded.  I told him in no uncertain terms that leaving people on hold and making them listen to the same soft rock song repeatedly was not so much ‘customer service’ as it was a calculated attempt to punish anyone foolish enough to ring for help.  There was an awkward silence, before a gentle ‘click’.  Our time together was over.

It’s an awkward age we live in.  One where corporate behemoths are so desperate for your approval that every interaction – no matter how minor – warrants a customer satisfaction survey.  Mine arrived about thirty seconds later.  If you’re the fire department, you’re unlikely to issue a satisfaction survey whilst someone’s house is still on fire. Similarly, internet companies should avoid sending surveys that beg you to tell them how awesome they are whilst you still have no internet to speak of.  Not even Maroon 5 would do something that silly.

It took some time, but I now have internet again.  That means I’m finally in a position to submit an online query to my internet provider to ask why my internet isn’t working, even though it is.  I could always say that I was asking for a friend.  

And whilst I sailed through my internet-less life easily enough, due in large part to the fact that I’ve refused to get rid of my DVDs, the soft rock stylings of Maroon 5 now haunt me in my dreams.  In fact, things are now so bad that I commonly avoid closing my eyes altogether, just to be sure that the gentle strains of ‘She Will Be Love’ doesn’t devour me as I sleep.  Consider it lesson learned – never ring a help line.  Instead, from this point on I’ll make all my complaints by telegram.