Slog - The Stranger's Blog

Line Out

The Music Blog

« Wal*Mart is fighting hunger. | Saturday Night's (More Than) A... »

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Long-Distance Romance

Posted by on March 11 at 13:49 PM

My personal computer is totally broken, digitally eviscerated, kaput. So I called the technical help line, listened to the automated questions, pushed the appropriate buttons, and was transferred to Sandeep.

O Sandeep!

“Hello, my name is Sandeep,” he said. “How can I help you?” We began with the usual chitchat—What’s the problem? A blue screen or a black screen? Could you repeat that?—and soon we were running a systemic diagnostic test. The screen flashed and scrolled and we shared an awkward silence.

“How long’s this going to take?” I asked.
“Maybe ten minutes,” Sandeep said.
“If you want to, you know, take a walk or get a sandwich or something, feel free,” I said. “I’ll be here.”
“Ha ha!” he laughed. “Yes, I can get you several Cokes.”

Several Cokes? How thoughtful! What a sweetheart! Our courtship had begun.

He said it was the last call of his 9.5-hour shift, that he was in New Delhi, that it was almost midnight. I said it was 11-ish and I was in Seattle and—
"Yes, Seattle!" he said. "It's 11:04 in the morning, yes?"

I said it rained here yesterday. He said it had rained in New Delhi yesterday. He's an MBA student and wants to work for a big company, analyzing its finances.
"Playing with numbers?" I asked. "Generating spreadsheets?"
"Yes!" he said. "But maybe it is too difficult for me." He sighed. "Mathematics is difficult."
"Yeah, math was never my strong point."
"It was mine. But this is difficult."
"You can do it," I said. "I believe in you."
"Thank you," he said.

We shared some laughs, described our immediate surroundings, what was on our tables and on the other sides of our respective rooms. But he never asked me about me. Was this a technical-support policy? Did he not care? Was I being too needy? I wanted to ask, but never got around to it. Our time together was fleeting and I didn't cherish it. I didn't say all the things I meant to say. Perhaps it's better that way.

A window popped up on my screen. Diagnostic test over. The hardware was fine but there was some incurable software disease. He talked about formatting my hard drive, reinstalling Windows. He couldn't help me with that. He was going to transfer me to somebody else who had more information. Our ten-minute stand was coming to a close.

"May I transfer you now?" he asked abruptly. Was that it? After all we had shared?
"Yes," I sighed. "But... thank you, Sandeep." I paused. "Thank you for..."
"Yes, thank you, sir," he said too quickly, too formally. "Thank you for choosing Dell."

The line clicked. That heartless bastard. Some generic muzak. Then...

"Hello, my name is Rachel. How can I help you?"

CommentsRSS icon

good stuff.

Sort of heartbreaking. But I agree with Bing- good stuff.

Rachel totally wants you, dude. Oh, well.

You work in publishing and use Windows? I thought you guys at The Stranger were the cool kids. Get a Mac and forget about reinstalling, reformatting and spending hours on the phone to helplines. Unless you're meeting guys that way, of course...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure no Mac has ever had a catastrophic hard disk failure before.

If it was a catastrophic hardware failure, he wouldn't be reinstalling--he'd be sending it in for hard drive replacement. This has the classic signs of a Windows install biting it. Get a Mac, or if you're daring, Linux.

I know, I know—I'm an embarrassment. I don't know anybody, barring my eccentric and half-blind great uncle, who still uses Windows. I bought this old Dell in 2000 before I knew anything.

geeks... ; )

I used to have NetZero as my Internet Service Provider. And once, after calling in the third time about some problem who nature escapes me now, I said to the man on the other end, who said his name was Mohammed, "Well, you have the name of the prophet, so that is perhaps a good omen. Maybe this time it will work out all right."
Now this was only the spring after the attacks on the old World Trade Center, so this poor guy had probably taken so much crap for his name, he just paused, and then thanked me profusely. I said thanks back and wished him well.
And that final time, the computer's connection to the Internet worked. So maybe it's a matter of knowing the right people and having the right connections - whether it is indeed Muhammed or Mohammed.

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 45 days old).