There’s a line from one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs that goes, “I woke up Sunday morning with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.” Well, I woke up last Sunday morning feeling fantastic, until turning on my laptop. After entering my password, it displayed a brief and ominous statement— invalid entry, restart your computer. After six or seven unsuccessful attempts, I realized I needed technical sup- port. Thus began my worldwide excursion that would transport me to exotic, far off countries including India, the Philippines and Thailand—through phone lines. As I write this piece, I tremble in fear that my computer will once again go hay- wire, forcing me to repeat the horrific events of the past four days.
Since I purchased the maintenance contract when buying my computer, I was cautiously optimistic that a brief phone call to the tech support number provided would get me back on track without too much time wasted. As most of you are well aware, getting a “real” person on the line is slightly easier than rebuilding a jet engine- -blindfolded. When finally maneuvering my way to a live human voice, I realized the next of many hurdles would be the language barrier. The polite young man with whom I spoke added into his opening spiel an invitation to please stop him if there were any words or sentences I would like repeated. Then began the formulaic ordeal of verifying my identity by answering questions I had already provided earlier to the annoying recorded messages. The inquisition continued with identifying my internet provider system and laptop service code. Then, much like a scavenger hunt, I was instructed to locate and recite a slew of lengthy number combinations cleverly concealed on my computer and router. Confused yet? I was. Thirty minutes into the call came the only pertinent question asked as far as I was concerned, “What seems to be your problem today Pete?” Ya, finally the meat and potatoes.
After providing more insights into my problem, I was asked to download a disk that had come with my laptop. When the one-hour download was complete, phase two began. It consisted of my mentor directing me on what to click and when. I was three and one-half hours into the call when the pleasant young man informed me that I needed a certain type of connection cord (which I did not have) to connect my router to my laptop. He promised me three times he would call me back at 10:30 a.m. to complete my repair. So off to Radio Shack I went, purchased the $25.00 plug-in, and returned home to await my phone call. At 11:45 I gave up and returned a call only to discover that I couldn’t contact the same tech guy I had been previously talking to. In fact, I even changed countries, from India to the Philippines. Oh, not that it matters now, but I didn’t need the new computer cord. However, I did need a CD I didn’t have to reinstall my drivers and devices.
Okay, I’ll cease with the dreary, monotonous details now because I’m getting stressed out all over again. In a nutshell after four days, seven hours on the phone, and three failed promises of getting a call back, my laptop is working just fine. As a side note, one of the young men from India, who “helped” me, was quite fascinated with the fact that I lived so close to Hollywood and he wanted to know if I ever spotted any movie stars where I lived. I told him, yes, in fact Bela Lugosi lived just down the street from me!
Pete Whalon, author of “The Siagon Zoo” has called Southern California home since age five.