This is pretty much how it goes…
When my computer gives me an error message, I blurt out a few barely audible adolescent whimpers that are just short of crying. I also teeter on the brink of high anxiety knowing that my only recourse is to call for technical support, which means communicating with people 50,000 times smarter than me.
Like the erratic flight path of a butterfly, I scramble around the office in all directions looking for the little piece of paper where I jotted down the TurboBlast Tech Support website—the website designed to save my life. Flipping through manuals over here and digging through piles of post-it notes over there, I pray that I didn’t toss it out. When, finally, I find it, I am only partially relieved because I know this is about as good as it’s going to get. You see, the website only offers technical assistance via a live chat line. This means that I have to be able to make sense in type written words what my problem is, which is like the United Nations having a meeting without interpreters.
At the TurboBlast Tech Support web site home page everything looks so friendly and helpful. Click here for fast, easy tech support!!! We look forward to serving you!!!
They have no idea what is coming their way.
To log on to the Live Chat Support Service, I miraculously survive inputting my user name and password. To many this may seem like such a simple task, but for me I will high-five myself as if I had just swum across a river of crocodiles.
Just short of a miracle, I actually make my live chat connection without a hitch. My on-line communication with a Technical Assistant starts with:
Please type your computer question here.
I begin like an idiot:
Me: Hello. How are you doing? Can I type my question now?
Tech: Did you not read the question at the top of the page?
I’m already off to a bad start, but I keep my cool.
Me: Sorry. I tried to install the Xpress TurboBlast Software, but I keep getting a message that asks for an administrative name. What is my name?
Tech: You don’t know your name?
Me: Of course I know my name.
Tech: Then why are you asking me what your name is?
Me: My administrative name. Do I use my name for that?
Tech: Yes, otherwise we’ll be here all night.
I have talked to Tech Support now for forty-eight seconds, and I already feel like something just shy of a hemorrhoid. I type my name in the administrative field and click “OK”. An error message quickly appears: “Invalid Entry”. There’s a wastebasket next to me that I kick against the wall, scaring the daylights out of Domino, our rat terrier, sleeping on the floor.
Me: It’s not accepting my name.
Tech: Are you sure you spelled your name correctly?
Oh, my bad. I’m quite sure I misspelled my name. Pretty easy thing to do having spelled my name correctly for over HALF A CENTURY!!!
I check and notice that I have misspelled my name.
Looking down at Domino, I think about kicking him out the window. I’ll just tell the kids that Domino was having a bad day. The warning signs were undetectable. Had I known he was having issues, I would have had him see a canine psychotherapist. How was I to know he wanted to jump like that?
I don’t let the tech know of the misspelling, but simply say I fixed the problem. The next window that pops up asks for the software’s serial number.
Me: It wants a serial number. Where is that?
Tech: It’s on the back of the paper sleeve the CD was packed in.
The sleeve is next to me, but the serial numbers on the back are too tiny to read. I’m at the age just when things up close get a little fuzzy. Even the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on the back of the chocolate chips package is a challenge to read. Pre-heat the oven to what? 350? 650? 850? Oh, who cares! Just broil the cookies! Looking at the microscopic serial numbers on the back of the CD sleeve, you’d think I was squinting at a solar eclipse.
Me: The numbers are so small. How do you expect me to read them?
Tech: It shouldn’t be that difficult.
It is that difficult. I tell Tech Support to please hold for a few minutes while I go find my glasses. A quick sprint throughout the house, poking my head in all the obvious places—it’s a maddening hunt that results in nothing. They could be anywhere, but I’m pressed for time as I don’t like to keep people waiting.
Back to the keyboard, I tell tech support I can’t find my glasses.
Tech: Nothing can be done until you input your serial numbers. It’s that simple. Is there someone else who can read it for you?
I should back my fingers off the keyboard, but they simply piano away, typing at will.
Me: Yeah, my great, great, cataract-infested, 95-year old grandmother’s in the room, picking corn out of her gums with a fork. You want her to read the numbers?
Tech: If she can, yes.
Me: That was a joke.
There’s a pause. The tech’s little cursor on the computer screen simply stays put, blinking on and off. For several minutes there is no answer. Just silence and my imagination seeing him or her parading around the office cubicles with a print-out of our conversation. “Blind as a bat! Can’t make out one digit of the serial number. I’m telling you, this dude is ooooold!” And the office erupts into a vibrant chorus of laughter. Champaign bottles are shaken and poured with bubbly wonderment over their heads. “Another ignorant customer has called in and we are the obligated souls who must drink our bellies full in remembrance of his idiotness! Drink, my fellow workers! Drink of merriment at the expense of this clueless goon!”
Just when I’m sure the tech’s going to disconnect, there is typing once again.
Tech: I figured that was a joke, but I didn’t want to take the chance that she might have really been in the room picking peas.
Me: It was corn.
Tech: None of that matters. You need the serial number. Do you understand?
“Do you understand?” Who are you, my mother? Mom? Is that really you? I must’ve been clobbered with over a thousand Do you understand?’s as a kid.
Me: I’m sorry, but the numbers are simply too small to read. Is there anything else we can do?
Tech: Let’s try this. I’m going to need to link up to your computer with a service we provide called TurboBlast Remote Command. It will allow me to access your computer so that I can navigate its files and operating system just as you do there at home. If you don’t mind, I will need your authorization to do so.
Me: Sounds like a plan, let’s do it.
Tech: In a moment I will email you a link to open. Let me know when you’ve done that.
Moments later the link appears. After opening it, I follow several prompts that eventually lead me to where I need a password, which the tech provides.
Tech: I will be navigating within your computer. Please leave your cursor alone, as that will interrupt with my work.
A strange sense of vulnerability comes over me as I watch my pointer arrow move about my computer’s monitor without my assistance. Whoever and wherever this tech is—could be Steve in Arizona, Raja in India, or Deborah thirty miles down the road—has complete control and I am completely fine with this because I know that I am a blithering moron when it comes to just about any computer task between the time I turn on and turn off the machine. In my opinion, every click of the mouse that doesn’t result in some kind of error message is simply pure luck. Even surviving Spell Check is a miracle worthy of celebration. I must admit though, vulnerability aside, it is a deeply religious experience when a tech is navigating through your computer to solve a problem. A visceral euphoria comes over me as if I’m on the verge of being saved.
The tech has minimized the chat window to better view the multiple windows that pop-up. I can barely keep track of the pointer arrow. It’s truly amazing the speed of the tech’s work. Flawless. Absolutely flaw—Oh, Dear God, no!
The pointer arrow has stopped moving. Frozen. Frozen because I know the tech is currently in one of two states: shock or disgust, from having just viewed a picture of me in nothing but my underwear, standing up in the kitchen sink with two heads of iceberg lettuce, one under each armpit. On my stomach, and written with a neon pink maker, is a big, fat arrow that points towards my head. Beneath the arrow and just above the top of the underwear are the bright pink words, “The SINKing Three-Headed Monster!” It was the result of a lost bet at a Super Bowl party. And now, with the tech looking straight at me in the kitchen sink, I am at a loss for words.
Several more minutes of unbearable zero movement of the pointer arrow pass by until, at last, the tech expands the chat-line window and types a note:
Tech: Did you check the bathroom?
Me: Huh? For what?
Tech: Your glasses. Did you check the bathroom? Cabinets? Countertops? Drawers? Bedroom? Living Room? You really should have a designated place to keep them.
I am about to throw in the towel. My tech support has now turned into some sort of cyber space Dr. Phil/self-help/better-living consultant.
Me: I don’t have time to look for the glasses, and I know they’re not in the bathroom since I thoroughly cleaned it this morning.
Tech: We still can’t rule out the kitchen.
No we can’t. Nor can we rule out the oven, microwave, refrigerator, garbage disposal , or the cookie jar.
Me: Look, I don’t know where the glasses are, and I really don’t have time to look for them. Is there anything else we can do to speed things up?
Tech: Let’s try this. I’m going to email you a link for you to automatically download the Xpress TurboBlast Software onto your computer. You’ll be running smoothly in a matter of minutes. Okay?
I let out a huge sigh of relief. The kind you experience just when you think you’re late for work, but it turns out its Saturday morning—your day off. I have been saved. My worries are over. I’m curious just who this tech is so I ask, “Are you a man or woman?”
There is a long pause. The tech’s reply cursor blinks idle. It just sits there blinking away time. Blink, blink, blink. Tic, tock, tic, tock… Man or woman? Why did I ask that!? But it’s too late. The message was sent. This is like when you leave too long of a message on your girlfriend’s phone recorder, and before you know it, irretrievable words spill out of your mouth, resulting in a huge pile of regret. Hoping to rectify the situation, you hang up, then immediately call back to smooth things out, but all that happens is another nightmare. Sort of goes like this:
“On that previous message, I didn’t mean to imply that I didn’t love you. I do. You’re just the one. Oh, I don’t mean that you’re a ‘just’, like a ‘sort of’, but you’re more than that. You’re like that cute girl at the mall the other day who…”
Right there, you hear the inevitable “Beep!”, followed by an automated voice: “This voice mail box is now full, please call back later.” Any chance of explaining the similarity of the girl at the mall to her has now vanished. Best bet would be to grab your passport and fly far far away.
The tech still has not responded. This is getting too uncomfortable and weird, but I continue typing.
Me: I didn’t mean the man or woman thing. Sex doesn’t matter to me. I mean your sex. I mean—(Enter)
I accidentally hit the Enter key. I fire off two quick apologies for anything and everything—trying my best to explain that by “sex” I meant “gender” but no reply comes back. By the look on my face, you would think that either I was being hypnotized or that I had just witnessed something bizarrely horrible, like a group of clowns flogging a man selling yellow smiley buttons. Suddenly, the tech’s reply appears, and it is as unforgiving and bleak as any I could dream up. It comes in the form of six depressing words:
Your Tech Support session is terminated.
Well, I guess I’m on my own. Life has been pretty good up to this point. Birth went all right. Loved playing baseball when I was nine. Had a riot skipping rocks across the pond at age twelve. And who could ever forget the time when I was eighteen and a friend and I went to the local grocery store and bowled down Coke bottles with cantaloupes in Aisle 3. Beyond that, all else was pretty much smooth sailing, except for one wee little slip of the tongue with tech support.
But you know, I’m going to get over this. I’m going to build myself a new day and move forward! I head to the kitchen for some cookies and milk. After all, food is that which has a way of replenishing the soul, and Lord knows I need it. Once there, my hand dives into the cookie jar and…well, well, well…maybe I’m being given a second chance, but surprise of all surprises, I pull out my glasses.
Express TurboBlast Software, here I come!
Copyright Ros Hill 2015