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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.

Press No. 1 if you would like to scream