Close encounters of unexpected kind

I suppose I’ll always remember this Monday for two interrelated things, none of which I had experienced before. Nor thought I would.

In a way it all began a year ago when I bought (and subscribed for a yearly renewal of) an antivirus from Symantec. That year over, I received a mail telling me the renewal would happen unless I opted out, which I saw no reason to do. However, later on it turned out that the system in some inexplicable way both knew my MasterCard number and didn’t, and simply refused to accept my attempts to confirm it. After a couple of emails I went, as requested, to Symantec’s support chatroom and chatted for a while with a technician (Sumod Matthew by name) who then proposed he’d ring me up. After a short hesitation (generally, I hate phone calls) I agreed and he did.

This was the first new experience – and quadruply so. I doubt I had prior to this ever had any phone call with anybody using English as the medium of communication; I doubt very much I had prior to this ever had any phone call lasting as long as 46′ 31”; I’m almost certain this was my first international call; and I’m absolutely certain this was my first overseas call. (Even intercontinental – I’m buying the product in £s but found out later from the dialling code the guy was in California.)

So we were leading this lengthy conversation with many a “Pardon?” on my side, as I’m not too keen in understanding anything else than RP and what could possibly be described as “common European non-native English”. Finally I was given a choice between going to a certain link where I could “update” the correct card number myself and letting the guy enter my notebook to do it for me. It took a while before I understood how he meant the latter, but when I did I chose that option, too sceptical about the former to risk the possibility of trying it, failing once more and having to contact them again.

This was the second new experience. Sitting at my notebook, drinking a coffee, smoking a cigarette and watching somebody who was hundreds or thousands miles away moving the cursor on my screen, opening and closing windows, at the same time talking to him over the phone about what he was doing, later taking turns at the cursor, so to say, and so forth… I’m not sure whether I’ve ever even seen anything of this sort in a film.

I guess that hardly a month passes without something comp-related making me cross by all of a sudden no longer working, or no longer working as it should, for no apparent reason. What makes me cross, of course, is the time I have to waste upon fixing it or making somebody else fix it, this time usually being such a drag. This once, however, even though it started as a drag and altogether cost me some two or three hours of a weekday, it resulted in something I’m really glad I’ve experienced. It was highly interesting in itself – and it’s a good tale to tell my friends. And, come to think of it, a good tale to blog about…



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