About yesterday —

Left Vegas a little after 6am – stuck in traffic – late for accupuncture appointment in LA – spent about 20 minutes trying to have conversation with amazing Korean accupuncturist who almost understands English – Belated Mother’s Day Lunch with Abbi & Aussie (Yes, I asked for Chik-Fil-A) — met with Hillary to get book ready for upload and work on website — back in car at 3:40pm — hate the 101 — hate the 15 — finally got home after 9pm — realized body was shaking and that it was 85 degrees in the house — took cold shower — e-mailed Abbi to let her know I was alive — threw up — e-mailed Abbi to ask her what to do (drink water to get hydrated) — watched Revenge on Hulu — went to bed — couldn’t sleep — finally nodded off a little after 3am — woke up at 9am. OK — that’s yesterday and today.

Now, let’s address the myth that is Customer Service Technical Support.
You know what I’m talking about.

When I fired my publisher and decided to go “Indy,” a lot of things landed on my shoulders. And I handled all of them with style and grace until it came time to number the pages of the manuscript.

Look at a book. See all those un-numbered pages at the beginning and end? Ever wonder how they got that way?

First, I tried going to the first page I wanted to number and programmed in the number “1”. Nope. Started numbering at the first page, which was supposed to be blank. Went to another place, which started numbering at page “9” but numbered all the pages “1”. Tried half a dozen clicks in the formatting part of my system, with no better results. Asked college-age-kid-at-“My Office”-at-Starbucks to see if he could figure it out. “Piece of cake,” he bragged. After about a half hour, he put the computer down and left, saying he needed a drink. It was about 10am.

I asked the counter people, my Office Assistants, if any of them knew how to do the numbering sequence. Not a clue.

Asked how to get to UNLV, because someone in their computer department would know. Found it’s clear across the world from where I am in Vegas — but they told me there was a junior college just down the street. I called, asked for the computer lab, told them my problem, and they said they’d be happy to help.

Got there to find it wasn’t that easy — needed a college password to get into the system — told them it wasn’t an issue that concerned the internet — and a nice young man planted me at a table, said “This should only take a minute,” and after about fifteen of them, there was a tribe of computer geeks surrounding my table, none of whom could figure out what the hell to put page “1” on page “9” while leaving the first 8 pages un-numbered, and were pretty embarrassed about it.

So, I called Hillary, and she said she was sure we could figure it out when we got together. God, I hoped so. I was having visions of putting out a book with no page numbers.

I called my Computer Geek Robert at the UCLA computer store/repair center, and he didn’t know either, but did some research and called me back about an hour later with a phone number for Microsoft Technical Support. I did, after all, have a valid program. He sold it to me himself.

Got to Hillary’s yesterday, she sat down at my computer, and started playing. Same problems.

That’s when things got funny.

Hillary knows her computer shit. So, I called the number Robert had given me and put her on the phone with the Customer Service Technical Support. They spent way too long making her jump through hoops verifying that I bought the damned program and wasn’t just some grunge who bootlegged his roommate’s copy to save $69 – because that’s how much the $499 version costs at the University Computer Store. I do love my Bruin card.

They put her through steps one and two — then, sent her to another non-English speaking person (OK, I’m not being non-PC here. I’ve seen Asian girls in my house throw a cell phone across the room after trying to talk to Customer Service Technical Support, a beautiful Hispanic girl slam down her computer screen to close the computer after frustrating hours of trying to get answers from phone geeks, only to get disconnected, and an Indian pre-med student who threw her I-Pad down as hard as she could on the soft cushions of a couch because she really wanted to throw it against the wall after trying to talk to people who couldn’t understand her and didn’t know what they were talking about.) — and then she was transferred to another support person, and another support person. After about maybe 30-40 minutes of sitting there trying to get answers from people who a) didn’t understand what she wanted, b) gave her the same answers as the three people before them, c) didn’t have a clue how to run the program they were (I’m assuming) paid to know how to use, I saw Hillary the Hero do the unthinkable. She typed something like “Windows 10 – Start Page 1 at Page 9” into Google search while the phone was still at her ear.

A page came up. The words, “Numbering in Word isn’t always obvious.” We knew that. But she scrolled down, turned to me and said, “All the answers are here. I can do this,” closed the phone on the person who had left her on hold, walked a few steps to her computer, and five minutes later said, “It’s done. We’ve got it.”

Here’s my dig — like we don’t already have a couple of dozen digs about Customer Service Technical Support.

You dial the 800/866/877/666# and hear, “I’m sorry, the number you have reached is no longer in service.” (This is especially true in the case of governmental websites.)

I hate dialing a number and hearing, “Hello, this is Alex, your virtual assistant.” Then Alex pops off four or five prompts, none of which have anything to do with the reason you’re calling, so you keep slamming your index finger on “O” or “#” until you get a human being — unless Alex responds to your aggression with, “I’m sorry, that is an invalid prompt. Please call back later.” Followed, of course, by “CLICK.”

And you do. You call back. This time you hit one of the prompt numbers, because you’re going to outsmart Alex, your virtual assistant by connecting with a reasonable facimile of a human being, and they’ll transfer you to the right department. When you hear yourself saying, “This is the sixth time I’ve been transferred,” you know it’s time to admit defeat, raise the white flag, go to Office Depot and buy something else. You’ve aged a year, lost hours/days of your life, and still have no more information than you did when you dialed the number in the first place.

And we all know that the words, “May I put you on hold for just one moment,” either means ‘I’m going to disconnect you so you’ll have to call back and start hitting prompt buttons all over again’ or ‘I don’t have a freaking clue what you’re talking about so I’m going on vacation. Have a nice life.’

These people aren’t trained. You can hear them typing your question into a computer and hoping an answer pops up. If not, God help you both because you’re in for a bumpy ride. Your next words are going to be, “No, that’s not what I asked you………”

Don’t you just love it when, after investing more of your time than it took to put together the bicycle for your kid at Christmas to get no information whatsoever, they cheerfully end your call with, “Thank you for calling ‘WeDon’tGiveAFlyingF.” I’m glad we could be of service to you today.” I’ve found Jack Daniels comes in handy here. It doesn’t need an instruction manual and works every time.

Most of these jobs, even for American-made products, are shipped overseas by 1%’ers who pay people nothing to drive us nuts and waste our time. How am I supposed to understand someone in Sri Lanka who answers the phone with, “Hello, my name is Bruce. How may I be of assistance to you today?” when you know damned well his name isn’t Bruce in the first place? I’m pretty sure we have citizens in the good old U S of A that are just as incompetent and uncaring who need the jobs. Except we’d expect them to a) be able to help us because they speak English, and b) give a shit. And we all know that isn’t the goal of Customer Service Technical Support.

Here’s the secret. (SHHHHHHH. They don’t want you to know.)

The REAL, Down-Deep Goal of Customer Service Technical Support is to get you to pull out the damned manual or type something in “Google Search,” and figure it out yourself. If you can’t make the clock come up on your VCR, you shouldn’t have bought the damned thing in the first place.

I realize I’m a relic. I miss dialing a number and knowing “Miss James” is really “Miss James” and not a name on a script page. I miss that person having an answer or knowing who will. And having people put me on hold and come back to me. But I also miss cars that can be fixed with a screw driver, wrench, and duct tape. Hell. I miss legal pads and 3 x 5 cards (which are really 5 x 3 cards) – because they always work and I don’t have to figure out where they’re hiding in a damned machine.

But we can’t go back. Those days are gone. We have today, and will always have the evil Customer Service Technical Support. We will forever need Jack Daniels. Or YOU will. I have the phone number of Hillary the Hero — and I’m not sharing.

See you Monday. I’m going back to bed.