The drive to Prince George was pretty uneventful. It was very pretty, since we were driving through B.C., but nothing amazing happened. Except that we stopped at a gas station that was advertising "fresh" fruit and I thought that was funny. Oh and there a bee flew in our car and I was scared it would sting Rachel and she would die. Such are the fears of a new mother.
We got to Prince George and found the fanciest hotel there was. We tried to stay in Best Westerns everywhere we went, because the one in Bonnyville was so fantastic. So we pulled in to the Prince George Best Western and let me tell you, it was definitely NOT the Best western. But it was alright.
I had been calling customers trying to set up appointments while we were still in Kelowna, but there were still a few I hadn't gotten a hold of. Oh wait, I need to back up.
When we were still living in Calgary before the whole camping thing, Burt went to Europe for a few weeks. He hired out Jay to be his replacement while he was gone, so Jay was with the Vancouver/Kelowna office. This office ended up moving again, this time to Prince George. They went there because Graham had heard that Gabe was planning to go there next. Which makes sense, because Prince George is closer to Grande Prairie than it is to Kelowna. But I digress. So. The office ended up moving to Prince George the week Jay was there. There was an unfortunate misunderstanding between a rep, a tech, and a customer in their short stint in the city. Here's what happened. A tech was installing a system that one of Graham's guys sold (please see description below of how pushy these reps are). The tech was trying his hardest to get everything to work, but sometimes you just run into sticky problems that don't seem to have a solution. He had called Jay a number of times trying to get help with it, but Jay was unavailable and eventually the tech just gave up. He told the customer he would be back in the morning to get everything figured out. This doesn't happen 100% of the time, but frequently it gets so late that the tech just schedules a time to come back and finish the system another day. It's not unheard of, is what I'm trying to get at. Aaaaanyway the customer freaked out. She called the police and told them a bogus security company had come into her home, disabled her alarm, and left, and now she was scared they would come in the middle of the night to take all her stuff. Here is the news article that was run following this event:
Security Scam Underway in P.G.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 15:06
RCMP are looking for a pair of men behind a scam that's being run in the city. Police says the two pose as officials with a security company by the name of Vigilon. They're telling elderly residents in the Central Fort George area that their current security provider is going bankrupt and are offering to provide security at a cheaper rate. Once they're in the house, they claim to install a new security panel. However they're only cutting the old lines. They're also asking for void cheques. If you spot the men, you should call police immediately. The first man is described as Caucasian with brown hair and freckles while the second man is darker skinned and could be Asian. They're driving a convertible with Alberta license plates.
Two things. First, RCMP is the mounted police, aka Mounties. The guys who ride around on horses. How cool is that? Second, Vigilon is the name of Graham's branch of Pinnacle. If I haven't mentioned before, Pinnacle gave Graham everything. He came from Apex and didn't want his guys being demotivated that they were now working for their former competition, so Pinnacle gave him one of their old names. Vigilon is from about 8 years ago.
Alright so how cool is that? They ended up selling in Prince George for less than 3 days before they had to move out because of this police issue. Apparently there are a couple other security companies up there who didn't like their business being stolen, and they went around setting up our customers of 2 days with their business instead. One was Chubb, the other was A-Tech. I don't remember exactly what happened, but I think the Chubb guy was really rude about it and spread a lot of nasty stories about us. Bottom line, the entire city hated anyone associated with Vigilon. On his way out of town, Jay drove around trying to fix some things that had been left unfinished or broken while the techs were there. The customers weren't to happy to let him in, since he drove a convertible hahahahaha. He was, needless to say, quite happy to move on to greener pastures after that.
The office moved to Hinton, where Graham had them camping. This is his 3rd camping office. Jay would have none of it. For those of you who don't know, Jay is allergic to cold. And we were in Canada, so that just wasn't going to happen. Josh, the idiot regional tech, made sure Jay had a hotel room, which was more than he did for the guys in Calgary. I feel like I'm leaving out a lot of the emotional issues that came from Graham's camping decision. Richard was on the phone with Josh or someone at corporate nearly every day after Graham "fired" him, trying to make sure his techs were taken care of. At one point he offered his entire backend check to go towards getting the techs hotel rooms. One of his techs was ready to pack up and go home because he just couldn't handle the stress and yuckiness of living in a campsite while doing a heavily labor-intensive job such as this, so Josh had gotten him a hotel room for a couple nights. Josh told Richard he could get one room and the guys could share it for the week: half could sleep on the beds and the other half on the floor, and anyone who wanted to could come in and use the shower. Um, WHAT??? That's the best he could do. Richard was disgusted. Eventually Josh just told Richard he needed to stay out of it, which is when Richard pulled all the family he could grab and we all went to Gabe's office, where EVERYONE gets a hotel room, because that's the HUMANE way to treat your employees. Sheesh.
Ok so back to Prince George and our current predicament.
Like I said, I'd been trying to get a hold of some more customers to have Richard come pull their systems. I don't think there were more than a handful of people in Prince George who kept the system Graham's guys sold them, so we had A LOT to pull. One person I called told me that their new company had taken our equipment back to their warehouse, and if we wanted it we needed to go pick it up there. Well that's a HUGE industry no-no that Pinnacle's been sued for before, but that's water under the bridge. It was really easy to call A-Tech and get their address and find out which systems were there that we needed to pick up, so we didn't make a big fuss about it. Richard went over and got the five I sent him for, and also got 9 others they had that we didn't know about! Talk about an extra $200 for the day, that was a nice surprise.
Turns out that was the only nice part of the day. I had made Richard an appointment with one lady who specifically requested he call her when he was on his way over. I always tried to make sure Richard called the people who requested it, because I've been a customer service person longer than I've been a tech, but he never does :D So he showed up and this lady didn't want to let him in her house because he hadn't called on his way. She told him to wait outside for a few minutes, and she went in and called the cops. That's why she had wanted him to call first, so she could have the cops there waiting to arrest him for trying to steal her alarm system and rape her children and whatnot. She was probably hoping to nail him on immigration issues as well, since we'd had several deportations since many of the reps and techs crossed the border illegally. Luckily Richard is Canadian. Not only is he Canadian, but he was born an hour away from Prince George. So they let him off pretty easily. The lady was retarded.
I may have to edit that story later, because I feel like I'm missing some really good details.
Anyway Richard came home in a really bad mood. He had completed 19 service calls in one day, which I think was a company high, but he was sick of this town. Everyone hated him, everyone wanted to call the cops, everyone had a problem with his Utah license plates. It just sucked. Later in the day, or maybe the next day, the cops were waiting at another of his appointments with an immigration official. He was just sick of it.
At the end of our appointments in Prince George we had a decision to make. We could now go back to Calgary, or we could go on to complete a very large loop around Alberta and hit as many cities as we could, picking up equipment on the way. We checked one more time to see how the Calgary office was doing; see if they'd started working or not. Danny had decided to go install in a different office because there was a lot of work in Saskatoon, so they had already packed up and gone. Jay was getting ready to head back to Utah anyway, so he was okay just chillin' and eating all our food we had bought the day before we decided to go to Kelowna. Tons of fresh veggies, I was so mad we had to leave it all. So basically...no. The work had not picked up. We decided to go ahead and make the loop. This would be so exciting! We planned to hit about 20 cities in the next two weeks. This did present a problem, however. The car was so full it wouldn't even fit Rachel and me. We found a UPS store, and Richard spent the morning before we checked out carefully packing everything in the car so we could all fit until we got there. We shipped everything off, stopped by a few more service calls, and headed for Vanderhoof. Well, actually, we stopped and did some shopping first. Richard bought me some books :D
Vanderhoof, remember, is the city where Richard was born. It's tiny, and everyone is Mormon. Vanderhoof is the geographical center of B.C., which means it's waaaay north lol. We drove to his Aunt Lily's house on Saturday, which was quite handy since they were having a family reunion that weekend. All of Richard's cousins were there, and many of them had babies. It was fun to meet everyone, but also kind of awkward that we were interrupting their reunion. No one seemed to mind, though. We stayed at a sort of aunt-in-law's house, and it was fabulous. It's a beautiful log cabin, and they'd used the upstairs loft area as a guest room/office area. There was a log bed, beautiful furniture, and even a crib for Rachel to sleep in. In the morning she made us tons of pancakes and eggs and bacon. We'd had to borrow Sunday clothes from some of Richard's cousins, since we'd been planning to be back by Sunday so we didn't bring any. The skirt I borrowed was a little shorter than I'm used to. But church was nice. I spent most of the time in the mother's lounge with all Richard's cousins who have babies haha. We left shortly after church, needing to get on the road towards our next destination: Dawson Creek. Ezra, Richard's cousin, informed us we'd have to pass through a "town" called Windy Point. We HAD to stop there and get a Wimpy Burger. Which we did...Windy Point is one building that acts as a gift shop, gas station, and diner. Richard got the Wimpy Burger, which was bigger than his head, and I had a $7 caeser salad with shrimp on it that would have fed my entire family. And then it was on to Dawson Creek. I was so happy for the books we'd bought...Rachel fell asleep while I read aloud to Richard, and Richard actually finished reading the book (Eggs, by Jerry Spinelli) before I did. I've converted him!
To be continued...in Dawson Creek.
Launch Mission #12
11 months ago