Tales from Tech Support.

I had a moment of personal triumph this week at work, when this one woman called up trying to get her connection fixed. I did the usual opening questions, and the drama started right away when I asked her what version of Windows she was running on her computer.

She said she didn’t know, so I asked her to describe the Start button for me. “Is it a green bar with the word ‘start’ on it, maybe..? Or maybe it’s just a circle with the Windows logo like a flag?”

“I don’t know… it’s um… it’s a rectangle, and it’s blue. It’s just blue.” She then went on to describe that her computer was hardcore frozen, with “Microsoft Innernet Explorer at the top, and the hourglass stuck in the middle, and ‘launch Outlook Express’ at the bottom.”

So I tried to walk her through the next few steps; I asked her to restart her computer, and to use the power switch on the modem to turn it off until Windows loaded all the way back up. She agreed, and then a couple of moments of consequential silence were broken by my asking, “has the computer started back up for us?”

“Oh, you want me to cut it back on? Okay,” and she does, to immediately say, “it looks just like it did before: Microsoft Innernet Explorer at the top, and the hourglass stuck in the middle, and ‘launch Outlook Express’ at the bottom.”

Um… “Alright… is there a chance that you turned off the monitor, and not the computer?”

“I turned off the monitor and the computer,” at which point I realized that she was calling the modem a computer. So I tried to talk her through finding the computer, describing it in as many different ways as I could.

“Okay, I got it,” she said.

“Yeah? Okay, switch that off for me, please? And we’ll turn it back on in a moment. Tell me what you see when it loads up again, okay?”

“Okay,” she said, and then after a moment of silence, “Um… I see Microsoft Innernet Explorer at the top, and the hourglass stuck in the middle, and ‘launch Outlook Express’ at the bottom.”

At this point I’m telling the person beside me that the customer has powercycled her monitor – twice. “Well, shoot… there must be something else we can turn off to get the computer to unstick. I wonder… tell me, when you put a CD in your computer, where do you put it?”

“Oh, um… I don’t know where that is…”

So I transferred her to the computer manufacturer. And I’m not sorry.

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  • About

    My name is Bobby.

    I write about random things a lot. I write a lot about random things.

    I write occasionally for Smashing Magazine and the London Community News online, and weekly for Interrobang, the student voice newspaper at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario.

    I've also been published by the Canadian University Press.
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