I had a heck of a night. I was up ’til 3 am trying to install a security program on my phone. I started working on it at 10pm. I guessed that it would take 5 or 10 minutes; but it soon became obvious that I could never do it, given any amount of time. You see, there is a whole new smartphone language that requires a translator. The apparently simple instructions are really a code for what you are actually supposed to do. I couldn’t break the code. I gave up trying to do it on my own about midnight and contacted the security software company.
That’s when the real fun began. They boast of 24/7 Technical Support. Well, I admit it’s technical; but it’s a stretch calling it support. There is no phone number to call and get a real live person, like the old days. You have to look at a list of problems that doesn’t include the problem you have; and then, when that inevitably fails, you resignedly check the “no” box to the question they ask you, “was this helpful’. You want to shoot someone (or get someone to shoot you) at this point.
But don’t despair! You can “chat’ with a technician. This means typing your name and phone number and then trying to find the terms to describe your problem to a simpleton. That’s not fair – it’s just that he doesn’t comprehend standard English: his language is “Technese” – an apparent simpleton, then. Now, if and when (think in terms of hours rather than minutes) you finally manage to get your problem across, you will find that this person cannot solve it for you. You are about to be referred to a “specialist”.
You sit on hold so long that you may forget what you were trying to achieve; and then someone comes on to whom you will have to repeat everything you just said to the first technician. The “specialist” will say, “I’ll be glad to help you. What is it that you are trying to do?” and then you explain – again. By now, you would choose strangling rather than life.
But, with a little bit of luck and another fifteen minutes of your time, you begin to make progress. It begins when you are asked “will you confirm that you are trying to do thus and so?” and you think ,”Dammit! I’ve been trying to tell you that!” but you just say “yes”. It saves time, you see. And you greatly fear that he will hang up on you and make you go through the nightmare all over again. Always say yes.
So now, it’s way past bedtime. You vainly hope, in your naivete that you will soon achieve success! Poor soul! You don’t know that you are just beginning. (Perhaps it’s better that you don’t know. You might climb into a bathtub and slash your wrists if you knew.) The next thing you get from your wise guide is something like this: “Just do this and then that.” You want so much to say, “I have been trying to do this and then that for hours, and couldn’t; else why would I want to chat with a tech like you, moron?” But it’s important to be polite, so you type, “I did this, but I don’t know how to do that.”
Then follows an explanation you can’t understand and you have to learn another part of the code before you can understand each other. Next you learn that you have to do something else before you can do either this or that. How, you ask, do I do the other thing? On a good day, you will be told, and the solution will actually work the first time you try. On a good day. There are not going to be many of them. The odds are about 125 or 130 to 1. Still, there are people who win the lottery, aren’t there? So you plod on.
Now, you can do this; but you find you can’t do that. You get a cryptic error message that you have seen several times before and you are back to square one. “What does it mean?” you type. Your expert explains, and you think you know what it means: You have to log into something; so you need to create a password. But “strong” passwords with special characters, etc. are hard to type in exactly. After a couple of attempts you succeed and you finally get to the home stretch. Breathless with excitement, flushed with relief, on the brink of ecstasy, you are about to take the first step – when you feel a sudden check in your spirit.
From here, a modicum of experience, logic and luck will probably be all you need to take you all the way home; but now every move is made with fear and trembling. What if you screw up, and all the progress goes up in a puff of smoke? You can’t bear to think it; so before even doing the obvious, you check with the tech.
“Can I download it now?”
“Should I install it now?”
“What do I do next?”
“Is there anything else I should do?”
“You have successfully… ” “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
You think for a second and then type, “You can call the looneybin and have them come and get me!” And you collapse.