'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
TECH SUPPORT HOTLINE SUCCESS STORY
Over the years I’ve been able to avoid making the dreaded computer “tech support” phone call. For two decades now, computers have been an integral part of my full-time job (selling HVAC equipment); as well as my part-time job (writing columns for the newspaper about crucial national issues, such as the proliferation of unwanted ear hair); and especially my recreational activities (online golf, digital jogging, and virtual exercise workout. Hey, I enjoy a wide range of physical activities, as long as I can remain in my comfy chair while doing them). I’ve owned dozens of different computers and used hundreds of different software programs, and yet, during all that time I’ve never been forced to call for help.
It’s not like computer software problems are a rarity. Quite often PowerPoint has no power, web browsers can’t open their eyes, and spreadsheets won’t spread (usually because they’re full of sheet). I’m not the only one who suspects that certain sadistic software engineers purposely write secret failure codes into the programs, just because they like to see the rest of us come crawling to them on our knees.
You’ve probably heard horror stories about people who have to call a computer tech support hotline. They get put on hold literally for hours. When they finally speak to a live person, his accent is so thick they can’t understand a word he says. Phone calls routinely get disconnected in mid-sentence, and the frustrated customer has to call back and repeat the nightmare of being on-hold for hours. Sometimes people receive incorrect advice from the tech support person, which not only does not fix the software problem but once in a while reduces the computer to a smoldering pile of twisted plastic and metal. (OK, maybe this outcome is more the result of the frustrated customer hurling the entire computer out of a second-story window.)
Anyway, I finally ran into a software installation issue I simply could not figure out on my own. So, with much trepidation, I dialed the tech support hotline and prepared to sit on hold for a while, presumably at least a day or two.
To my surprise, within three minutes a cheery voice said, “How may I help you?” His name was Chandrasekar, and when I asked him to repeat it, he said, “Just call me Chan.” The software company is based near San Francisco, so I asked Chan, “Are you on the West Coast, in California?” He answered, “No, I’m in India.”
“Really?” I said, “What time is it there?” Chan said, “It’s tomorrow morning.”
Wow, I thought. Tomorrow hasn’t even arrived yet. These software guys are so smart they must’ve invented a time machine. No wonder we have to crawl to them on our knees.
The most amazing aspect of my conversation with Chan, besides the time machine thing, was when he took over my computer via the Internet to remove one program and install a new one. Thru my phone I could hear him typing on his keyboard, and on my computer screen I could see the letters appear as he typed. And he was doing it all from India. At that moment the earth seemed no larger than a basketball.
Chan is a brilliant young man who did a fantastic job fixing my computer. He told me he speaks four languages and hopes someday to visit America. But I suspect that will be difficult because I’ve heard that guys like Chan make about five bucks an hour. On the other hand, maybe he can walk here. After all, the globe is now no larger than a basketball.
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