It’s time to think about Christmas and how the gifts we choose can affect the recipient’s self esteem. This year, you or someone you care deeply about will undoubtedly receive a piece of technology—an apparatus with a mind of its own, a mind more devious than Tony Soprano, more Machiavellian than Machiavelli. For instance, a computer. And, guaranteed, you will be talking to India.
I was invited to participate in a Google Hangout (high tech talk for interview) about real estate. Well, it was really about promoting my new book, Laugh Your Way to Real Estate Sales Success. The book that will be available on Amazon for 927 rupees a nominal price on or around when the planets align January 15. But I shamelessly digress.
So, I had to get the camera on my computer to work. Funny how everyone else worries about bad guys spying on them through that little red dot that is the camera lens on their monitor, and I can’t get mine to open its eye. MyHusbandTheEngineer, who can fix anything, tried his hand at it.
MHTE: “What did you do?”
Me: “Nothing. I just Googled ‘Google Hangout,’ and there isn’t a single bit of information about how to make the camera work.”
MHTE: “You must have done something.”
Me: “Let’s just call Dell. That name rings a bell. Which rhymes with hell, which…”
MHTE: “No. I’ll fix it.”
It’s hard for a grown man to admit defeat, so while he was “fixing,” I got on the phone to Dell because I have a file folder that says “Dell,” which must mean that the computer is a Dell.
Dell, aka India, answers: “Thank you for calling Technical Support. How may I help you?”
Me: “I can’t get the camera on my computer to work.”
India: “Thank you for calling. Is the problem that your camera does not work?”
India: “Allow me to understand your problem, please. The camera on your computer does not work.”
Me: “That’s right. And my husband, who is an engineer, cannot fix it,” I whisper, stepping out of the room.
India: “I understand. You are having difficulty with your computer camera. What is that difficulty?”
Me: “The little red spy light does not go on, and I don’t get a picture on the screen.”
India: “Aha. Your computer camera is not working. Will you please tell me your computer’s serial number?”
My computer is actually a laptop which is the good news because it can easily be flipped onto its back to reveal the tattoo. The bad news is that my husband is nesting on it and will notice when I do that. So I must break it to him that I’ve gone over his head.
India: “May I ask your patience as I check our records to determine if your computer is under warranty?”
Which he does and finds that the warranty expired two months earlier, but for $397.50 he can talk to us.
MyHusbandTheEngineer: “I can fix this.”
Me: “But I need it tomorrow—in fourteen hours. And you’ve already been fixing it for two hours, and by the sound of things it’s going to take Tech Support two more hours to understand that the camera doesn’t work, and then heaven knows how long it will take them to fix it.”
So my husband begins to explain to Tech Support that the camera doesn’t work. For ten minutes. I hear pages flipping in India and wonder if it’s a user’s manual or the English to Hindi dictionary.
Me: “HELLLLLO Tech Support—can we just fix this?!”
Tech Support: “Yes, ma’am. May I take control of your computer remotely?”
Me: “The sooner the better.”
Tech Support: “I will not look at any of your personal information.”
Me: “Look, I’ll give it to you: my credit card numbers, passwords, account numbers, anything—you don’t even have to steal them. Just fix my camera. Please.”
Tech Support: “Thank you madam. Oh! Ma’am. I am sorry to inform you that your computer has a wirus.” A wirus? I hope that’s less serious than a virus. “I must cleanse your computer,” he concludes.
At the end of the purge, he informs us that he fixed everything so we should now hang up and go for it. Which we did, which we will never again do before hanging up because it did not work.
We redial and get another province of India. Cut ahead a half-hour, during which India has seized control of my computer again, tried to assess me another $397.50 because “we have no record of your warranty,” and reported that we have a wirus.
Me: “We do not have a wirus…virus! We were cleansed an hour ago. Your compatriot told me so.”
India: “Oh, no, ma’am. He was mistaken.”
And then a miracle happens: I see India on the screen and India sees me. India smiles at me:
India: “Ma’am, you have a very youthful voice.”
Me: “Oh, thank you.”
India: “But I can see that you are not.”
The point here is, think about the consequences when you give those Christmas gifts.