So I was visiting India last night...
Not in that whole messy, may-I-see-your-papers sort of way, but in that 1-800-Dell sort of way.
Let me preface all of this by saying that I have always enjoyed the Indian people. I find them to be an intelligent people, a fiercely tenacious people, unblinking in the face of adversity and most politely patient.
The politely patient comes particularly into play on the Dell hotline.
As posted yesterday, the screen on my laptop has gone bi on me -- that is, the left side is willing to play along, but the right side has become petulantly uncooperative and stares at me blankly. The interesting part is that when I place my thumb on the top center of the screen, the two sides unite and do what they've been paid to do.
Conceding that I cannot type with one thumb on the screen, I called Dell.
A recorded woman's voice asked me a number of questions, and after giving her a number of answers I gave in to my increasing frustration and refused to speak using the words the recording wanted to hear.
It's my version of holding my breath and kicking the floor until I get my way.
"Frippen on the flim-flam! Puttin' on the Ritz" I squealed.
"Please choose from the following options..."
"I want a fish sandwich, cole slaw and a large chocolate malted. And don't try to bring me a shake, either. I'm on to you people."
"I'm sorry. I didn't quite understand that. Please choose from the following options..."
"A malted! I'm gonna need a chocolate malt and two napkins!"
"I'm sorry. I didn't quite understand that."
You get the idea.
The recording finally gave up and transferred me to a human being.
The first call lasted 27 minutes and consisted mostly of me explaining to a man who, for all the world, sounded like Ringo Starr doing an impression of an Indian, what my problem was.
"May I have your name, please?"
I gave him my name, and a whole lot of numbers, and he regularly expressed his appreciation of my being patient, his regret regarding putting me on hold, and his pleasure in serving me.
Formalities out of the way, we spoke at length about the screen.
"When I put my thumb on the screen," I said, "the whole screen appears, but when I take it off, I can only see the left-hand side."
"Pardon, mum, your -- your what?"
"But not your fingers?"
"It only works with your thumb but not your fingers?"
"No, no," I said. "I just used my thumb. I suppose you could use any of your digits but I used my thumb."
The poor man. Would I hold for just a minute or two?
He was back in six minutes. "Yes, yes," he said, "I am understanding this now. You used your thumb."
He explained to me that my computer was no longer under warranty. I concurred that that seemed to be the case more often than not. He chuckled understandingly and offered to put me in touch with technical services for $49.
I told him it sounded like a bargain, and he chuckled again, whereupon he put me on hold. Ten minutes later the line went dead and I was forced to redial.
The next man did not sound like Ringo Starr, which I actually found a little disappointing.
I explained it all again and again I was rewarded with gentle and soothing words of sorrow regarding my difficulties and his appreciation of my patience.
I was also rewarded with many times on hold.
During one of these times, I explained to Big Willie that it sounded like the man on the phone was in a giant room filled with people. "Sounds like the Dell support staff are all at a bar," I said. "Rahr, rahr, rahr, mumble mumble mumble."
"Yes, mum," the man on the other end said, "it is very much sounding like that here."
And we both had to laugh. "What time is it there? You are in India, yes?"
"Yes, mum. India. It is almost 4:00 a.m."
"Four a.m.!" I exclaimed. "That's a helluva shift you've got!"
"Yes, mum," he agreed.
Having, at his direction, shut my computer off and tapped the F2 key repeatedly and impotently, our options were exhausted and he transferred me to another person.
I explained the issue to her.
She explained to me that she would have a box sent, that it could be fixed for $149 unless it was the LCD screen, in which case there would be an additional charge of $199.
Have I not been describing the LCD screen? I seem to be poised for a fleecing. Nevertheless, in for a penny, in for a pound.
Send the box, I said.
And so they shall.
3 hours ago