Monday, January 14, 2008

I Regret the Inconvenience That Has Been Caused to You

Late last night my printer jammed. I was trying to print out morning work checklists for my children. I don't like to micro-manage, but for my sanity, I hand out a checklist so that I don't have four people asking me ten times each, "Mom, can I play on the computer YET?" I need my sanity. I had to have those checklists.

The paper jam was somewhere deep within the machine where I couldn't see. After an hour of trying everything I could think of, short of getting the screwdriver, I started looking for the instruction manual. This means I am only moderately geeky, since I will only mess with a machine for a mere hour before resorting to the instruction manual. A true geek would have gone for the screwdriver first.

As I took out the instruction manual, its sheer size made me hopeful. Surely a manual of this magnitude would have some helpful information in it. My hopes were dashed when I saw that the English instructions ended abruptly on page seven and the rest of the book was taken up by duplicate instructions in French, Spanish, German, Japanese and Tagalog. On the last English page, under the heading "paper jam," the book referred me to the on-line help site.

On LINE? I had to go on line to get help?

I trudged upstairs. Our downstairs computer, where the printer is, has a slow and unreliable dial-up. Upstairs, the lap top computer can pick up a wireless signal if I balance it on the hamper in the master bathroom.

After balancing the lap top and typing in the address for the on-line help site I found a FAQ about paper jams. It said that the back panel of the printer could be removed by pressing a certain lever. WHY DIDN'T THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL SAY THAT? I ran downstairs, took off the back panel, and lo, the paper jam!

I pulled out as much of the paper as I could, but a tiny piece was still wedged tight in the gears that turned the back rollers. I tried a sewing needle, a fork, and a bamboo skewer, all to no avail. Stuck again, I went back up the stairs.

After reading the FAQ over and over, I stared for a while at the button at the bottom of the page that said, "Chat with live tech support." What could tech support tell me that I didn't already know? Should I just get the screwdriver? No, if I broke the printer I would never be able to print out those lists. I clicked on the button and registered for the chat.

"Hello, Rebecca."

That was a little creepy, I must admit. Yes, I had typed in my name when I registered for the chat, but now some stranger was addressing me: some stranger who works swing shift doing live tech support chat with people who are trying to print things in the middle of the night.

I described my problem as best I could in a few lines. Live tech support came back with, "I regret the inconvenience that has been caused to you."

Oh dang, I thought. English is not your native language, is it? I wasn't sure I could get a native English speaker to understand me, what chance did I have with this person? Then again, maybe it would work. Maybe he could look up what I had typed in his English-Tagalog dictionary while I ran up and down the stairs between my printer and my on-line computer.

First, live tech support sent me the FAQ I had already seen. I told him I had already read that FAQ and removed all of the paper except one little bit that was stuck fast in the gears. "If we could get the rollers to move somehow," I typed, "I think the bit of paper would fall out."

"Yes, you can turn the rollers up." said live tech support.

I ran downstairs to try it. Earlier I hadn't been sure whether trying too hard to turn the rollers would break the machine. Now that I knew that they were supposed to turn, I got my fingers in there and pried and twisted with all my might. The scrap of paper put up a good fight, but at last the gears began to turn and the paper popped right out.

Back upstairs, I typed, "It WORKED! HOORAY" I think live tech support was happy for me. He stayed on until I had actually printed a page, then wished me a happy holidays and a happy new year. . . on January 13th. He can't have been an American, but I felt like he was my friend anyhow.

And, this morning, I had the checklists. I am sure that I am more grateful for live tech support chat than my children are.

1 comment:

Teric said...

Tech support that was helpful! It *DOES* exist after all. Glad to see that you got it all straightened out.

Well, you wanted me to tell you about Teric. Let's see...

Have you ever read a series of books called 'Dragonlance' by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman? In that series, there is a history of a great war fought by knights mounted on dragons. The dragons were not simply dumb beasts--they were very intelligent, and each knight/dragon partnership formed a tight bond of companionship where the two fought together in tandem.

One such pair was a human knight named Tharon and a female silver dragon named Skraela. Through years of working closely together and depending on each other for their very lives, the pair's bond grew beyond friendship into love.

Both knew that such a relationship was impossible, but their feelings for each other only continued to grow. Near the end of the great war, in a fit of desperation, Skraela flew beyond the bounds of the mortal realm to the home of the Gods. There, she bowed herself before Paladine, the god of Justice and head of all gods of good. Skraela begged Paladine to make her human so that she and Tharon could marry.

Never before had such a transformation taken place. In this world, the four 'pure' races were those that were first placed by the gods upon the land: Human, Ogre, Elf, and Dragon. It was unheard of to leave one pure race and become another!

However, Paladine was well aware of the great deeds and battles fought by Tharon and Skraela, and of the many struggles they had undergone in the name of justice. The pair had done nothing but champion Paladine's causes. In light of their history and accomplishments, Paladine reluctantly granted her request.

Skraela became Shaela, the silver-haired human maiden, and she and Tharon were soon married.

All was not well, however, for Gilean, the god of Neutrality and Balance, was angered by Paladine's actions. The balance of the pure races had been altered, and the balance had to be restored.

Gilean attended the wedding festivities in the guise of a stableman. When it came his turn to present a gift to the newlyweds, he offered them a simple brown package with a note attached. Once the delivery was complete, he vanished, creating quite a stir among the wedding guests.

The note read simply, "Of pure race your child shall never be." The package contained a beautiful royal blue sash, embroidered with gold thread in a manner beyond the most skilled tailors of the land. Also inside the package was a small glass sphere mounted into a pendant.

The objects were immediately identified to contain powerful magics, and were sent to the Wizards' council for study. After several months of frustrating work, the wisest mages of the land could only determine that the sash was able to grant the wearer magical sight. Their scrying was unable to penetrate the pendant's secrets, and both artifacts were returned to the young couple.

In the mean time, Shaela had become pregnant. Though the news brought great joy to Tharon and Shaela, they both remembered Gilean's prophecy that their child would not be of pure race. As the months passed, it became apparent that Shaela's pregnancy was highly irregular. The child inside her grew, but there was no detectable movement nor signs of life.

When at last the time for delivery came, both parents were astonished to see not a child, but a large, silver-flecked egg weighing nearly fifteen pounds.

Despite their disappointment, the parents brought the egg to their home where it was guarded and cared for. Though he held misgivings, Tharon eagerly waited for the egg to hatch. However, Shaela feared the worst; for dragon eggs normally took hundreds of years to gesate. Secretly she hoped that, somehow, the human aspect of the father might bring the egg to hatch sooner, but as time passed, her hopes began to fade.

Months passed, then years, and the egg did not hatch. Tharon and Shaela spent many happy years together, but their happiness was always tainted by the thought of their unborn child, and their fear that they might not live to see him.

As the years passed, it became apparent that Shaela did not age as her husband did. The couple realized that her transformation had not been complete, for she had somehow retained the longevity of her dragon heritage.

In the twilight of his life, Tharon lay upon his deathbed, his wife next to him, still rich with youth and vibrance. Tharon's final moments saw him with his left hand clutched tightly by his wife, while his right hand rested upon the egg of their unborn child. With his last breath, he proclaimed his love for both of them, and begged his wife to tell their child of his father.

To be continued...