No, don’t worry, I’m not going to complain about being “old” (because everyone tells me I look young), or still being a single thirtysomething (because I’m closer to reversing that than I was when I began writing this blog): no, instead here’s how I wasted my entire birthday — and none of it was even my fault!
Right, first of all I’d booked today off so I could take my A+ exam (220-801) in the morning, and then spend the afternoon buying an SSD for my computer. In fact I got one of those yesterday as I was walking down Tottenham Court Road, but it became clear when I got home that I’d bought a lemon, and so today I was planning to take it back and swap it for the one the guy actually recommended for me. Then in the evening I’d see my personal trainer, and I’d turn 36 while being put through my usual exercises (because I was born around 6pm, right?).
An upset stomach and the usual pre-exam nausea didn’t start the day well for me, but somehow I managed to get the bus over to Southgate without incident, and arrived at the exam venue well ahead of the start time, 9:30am. And waited at reception while the lady tried, in vain, to phone up the bloke who would be in charge of my exam, but whose phone was constantly engaged. Then I received a phone call from the company that runs the exams (and through which my agency booked the thing), asking me if I was going to turn up for this exam; he wasn’t sarcastically asking me why I was late, he actually knew that they were having problems “connecting to the server”, and recommended I reschedule for another day.
Oh, if only I’d listened… but no, I was distracted by someone from the venue leading me to the testing area, where I was introduced to an engineer who became my companion for the rest of the ordeal. He didn’t know why it wasn’t working, so he took me to the canteen so I could at least eat something, and assured me he’d be back in half an hour, “or maybe less”. An hour later, once I’d found the strategically-hidden gents’ toilets, he came to find me, and we went back to the test room (actually a general IT room, by the look of it), where I tried, in vain, to help him fix the issue.
Yes, that’s right, I, the test-taker, tried to help the test-administrator fix the testing apparatus so I could take the damned test! It seems they’d upgraded to Windows 7 (probably Enterprise Edition), but has discovered too late that “Microsoft Antimalware” was interfering with the test-taking “wrapper” program (presumably some kind of virtual machine on a remote server?), and his efforts concentrated on disabling this Windows component, rather than figuring out why the program was having such a problem. Someone from the exam company was even remoting into his computer (port 3389… what? Oh, sorry), but to no avail. Eventually he said I could go to sort out my SSD and come back later for the test…
So, by around 1pm I’d travelled by bus to and from Southgate, and then, after trying to relax here for a bit, I set off again for Tottenham Court Road on the Underground, only to discover that although the shop that sold me the rubbish SSD wouldn’t charge me a restocking fee, the SSD I actually wanted had just sold out this morning, and won’t be in stock until tomorrow. Thus, more or less a wasted journey on that score — and when I went immediately back up to Southgate (via three Tube lines), I discovered that the situation hadn’t improved at the test venue, and that two other blokes were waiting for similar exams! One was very unhappy indeed about the situation, while I was trying to be philosophical about it…
In the end I left the venue, having not even begun any exam, or even met the boss for a personal apology (he disappeared somewhere between his office and the reception area); I also decided that I wouldn’t be going back there and would ask my agency (and/or the exam company) to arrange it for me at a different venue instead. I don’t really want to go back to the place in Holborn where I did my A+ exams in 2011 (and failed a Windows 7 exam in 2012), but I may not have the choice…
Fortunately, my personal training session went fine, and was about the only good thing to happen all day (despite some lingering stomach issues, I was able to do leg raises successfully) — but, of course, I could have gone after work anyway, so it didn’t atone for a wasted day’s annual leave! And yes, this was worse than waiting in for a package to be delivered, only to get a call at 4:59pm to say he’s not coming — at least in that situation I’d have been at home, doing my own thing, instead of sitting in a strange place, wondeirng what the hell was going on!
So there you go: my 36th birthday was pretty much a lost cause — and if I’d gone to work, the annoying woman would have been absent all morning, so that’s gone to waste! Oh well, at least it’s over now, so no sense worrying — I’ll have a shower and an early night, and it’ll all be forgotten.
Oh damn, now the weather’s getting colder again — boy, that really grinds my gears…!