Support and Resistance

May 27, 2016

The joys of troubleshooting.

Awhile back, when I had somewhat more discretionary income than I do now, I dabbled with stocks. It was a fraction of what I was dutifully handing over to my retirement plan guy each month; that was for serious future planning, whereas the stuff I was doing solo was somewhere between a hobby and an independent study.

One of the principles I encountered in trying to figure out where stock prices were headed was that of support and resistance. Drastically simplified, the notion is that one can identify levels beyond which prices are unlikely to move (until you put money on the matter, at which point there will likely as not be a “breakout” that makes a fool of you).

A price ceiling is called “resistance,” whereas a floor is “support.” What you term it is a matter of your perspective, in the same way you might call what’s over your head a ceiling if you’re downstairs in a house, but that same horizontal structure becomes a floor if you go upstairs.

My Ameritrade days are tabled, but support and resistance are still very much with me. Specifically, when I contact Support (usually of the technical variety, but other types do turn up…Human Resources leaps to mind), they first respond as their alter ego, Resistance.

You’ve been there. Your computer is acting up, and you’ve gotten to the end of your rope on your own…rebooting, checking all the plugs, looking up your issues online (or in your hard copy user’s manual, if such things still exist). Indeed, you wouldn’t be breaking down and contacting Support if you had any other ideas, because you know that first you will have to deal with Resistance. Many times bitten, forever shy.

The first assumption seems to be that you are some sort of miscreant, phoning or emailing not because you have a legitimate issue that you believe warrants attention, but rather as a troublemaker. A timewaster. Perhaps a prank caller.

Once you’ve disproven these things (fetching software versions, serial numbers, perhaps case numbers if you have contacted Support/Resistance before), the assumption changes. You are no longer a malicious foe, but now most likely a bothersome idiot.

It doesn’t matter, for instance, if you begin by telling them you have already done the usual rebooting, unplugging/replugging, etc...Resistance will consume another 15 minutes of your life by having you do all of this again, or indeed investigating half a dozen other avenues which you know up-front cannot possibly be the problem.

Having made it through these stages, if you’ve been very pleasant, patient, and well-spoken, you might be fortunate enough that you will find yourself dealing with Support at last, and seriously working on the problem.

Otherwise, you might encounter what, for me, has proven to be the most infuriating phase of Resistance of all: They tell you that the problem you are reporting does not, and/or cannot exist. The fact that you have experienced it, perhaps more than once to prompt you seeking help, does not seem to count as evidence that, yes, the problem is for real.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"49022","attributes":{"alt":"resistance","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_6316583201649","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"5891","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 127px; width: 179px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©Ho Yeow Hui/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

It reminds me of a computer programming teacher I had back in high school. I had proudly shown him a game I’d coded on my own, which included what I considered a pretty clever scorekeeping mechanism. The mechanism stuck in his craw, however, because his programming knowhow told him that said mechanism should not work. The fact that it did work, let alone that I had been clever (or lucky) enough to make it functional, did not seem to register.

I’ve yet, as far as I’m aware, to overcome this last ditch stonewalling by Resistance. That is, nothing I’ve said or done in response has visibly moved my standing in their eyes such that I’ve found myself suddenly dealing with Support instead.

Maybe that’s by design; maybe the Resistors in question just find it easier to say that there cannot possibly be a problem, than to admit that they are in over their heads, and will have to seek some higher level Support themselves…perhaps because they, themselves, would first have to overcome some hassles from Resistance?