Mickey Sheehan

Say hello to technology related stress

Stress comes in many forms - but how about this one?

There isn't an acronym for it. And there damn well should be. So I'm going it call it TRS. It stands for technology related stress. I can't put my finger on why but TRS always seems different to any other form of stress.

We all encounter stressful situations in our daily lives and routines - whether it's being late for an important appointment, running out of shaving cream or realizing you had planned to make a leek and potato pie for dinner - and you forgot to buy the leeks!

I remember reading an interview in a music magazine with Ali Campbell, who at the time was lead singer with international reggae band UB40. The interviewer asked him about the stress of being in a top music band - the tours, the recording deadlines, being away from your family for months on end, etc. Ali replied with "How can that ever be considered stressful? Show me a single, unemployed mother trying to bring up four kids on her own, that's what you call stress"

Ali has a point of course - there are definitely different levels of stress - but back to the main topic of this little rant - TRS (technology related stress) Trust me - it's different.

No red light spells danger

It all started on Friday night when having cleared my work for the day, I settled down on the sofa to watch a movie or two. I popped a disc into the DVD player, hit the TV power button - and nothing. There was no red power light and no hum or whirr coming from the back of the set. This can't be right I thought. This was a Panasonic plasma TV that was barely six months old and had had very little use in that time.

It's at this point - if you're anything like me - that you start to do stupid things. You take the plug out of the wall socket and put it back in again. You put new batteries in the remote control unit (after you've given the old batteries a good rub of course) You try plugging the TV into other electrical sockets around the house. You even try holding the remote control at different angles. None of it works. And then after about 30 minutes, you are forced to reach an inevitable conclusion - the TV is broken.

This is why TRS (technology related stress) is in a league of its own - perhaps because you suddenly feel so helpless and alone in the world.

Google's your best friend

But you are never alone as long as you have an internet connection. So I googled ‘my Panasonic TV has no power' and found out that there were about four million Panasonic TV owners around the world with exactly the same problem.

I went on TV discussion forum after TV discussion forum - but those forums are generally little help. There seems to be two types of help forum user - those who know it all and those who know less than zero. I'm most definitely in the second group by the way.

The know-it-alls are posting circuit diagrams and telling you to be careful because if you undo the wrong screw, you may well blow your house up. The hopeless TRS sufferers like me, are saying things like "well, I've given the screen a good clean with a tissue but there's still no power getting through"

Yes, I am that hopeless when it comes to all things technological. I shouldn't be allowed anywhere near it.

Panasonic to the rescue

After an exciting evening spent staring at a blank TV screen with no sound (I believe that's what happens when the TV has no power) I received a tip-off that Panasonic Thailand's customer service is second to none. If your TV is on the blink and it's still under warranty, men will arrive in a van, carrying bags of tools and normal service will be resumed in a jiffy. These guys are super-heroes. The only thing missing are the capes.

Anyway, my wife gave the Panasonic customer service department a call on Saturday morning and the lady on the other end of the phone handled things very professionally. "We'll get a couple of technicians out to you on Wednesday" she said.

Of course, I do want the TV fixed. I want nothing more in the whole world. However, these situations mean only one thing - strangers are going to come into my home. I have a phobia about strangers coming into my home (to go along with the TRS that I already have)

Will these repairmen be coming in the morning or the afternoon? Countless times I've told my wife to try and pin customer service departments down to a ball-park time of arrival, but "they'll be there some time on Wednesday" seems to be a perfectly acceptable answer in Thailand.

Caught unawares

I have a fear of repairmen knocking on the door as I'm in the middle of an activity. I don't want to hear the doorbell ring as I'm in the middle of taking a shower or stirring a pot of soup or doing something outrageously metrosexual like giving my boxer shorts a bucket wash. And so I wander around the house in an unwashed, unshaven and famished state as I wait for the service people to arrive.

And don't get me started on the language barrier. I can converse in Thai reasonably well but I'm hopelessly out of my depth when things get technical. The moment I ask a repairman who's got the back off a TV set, if ‘everything is OK?' I know I'm going to instantly regret it as he bombards me with the Thai words for various TV components. I end up just nodding in agreement - without for a moment knowing what I'm agreeing with.

Sure enough, two technicians in a white Panasonic van came to the house today, took the back off the TV, undid a lot of screws and told me that the problem was a blown fuse. This turned out not to be a problem at all - Mr Technician opened a compartment of his toolbox and inside were more fuses than you could shake a stick at.

New fuse inserted - still no power. "It's the soundboard" said the technician "that's gone as well"

I glanced hopefully at the technician's toolbox (ooooh matron) but apparently technicians don't carry replacement soundboards or soundcards or whatever the bloody hell it's called. The technicians told me that Panasonic customer service department would call my wife to make a new appointment - and they would return on another day.

That's another day I've got to wait at home. Will they come in the morning or in the afternoon? Will I be watching TV any time soon? It's all technology related stress.



Just for the record, Micky, this is one of the most amusing things I've read lately. I can completely feel your pain too. You're a sight better than me, though; after about 5 minutes, I'm generally looking for a baseball bat to rectify the situation. In the end, I'm usually forced to resort to a gin and tonic.

TRS should be a required subject at all shrink training facilities. haha

By Sam, Chatuchak, Bangkok (5th February 2014)

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