Friday, August 03, 2012

On behalf of your Windows computer

For the second time in as many years I added our phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry, in response to the frequency with with which we've been barraged by spam callers of late, but our experience suggests that this "registry" restricts only those individuals who wish to peddle Guatemalan hardwood flutes, Canadian pharmaceuticals, and Swedish sphincter relaxants all on the same call.

Any number of opinion polls, suspect charities, political interests, and purveyors of window glazing remain free, clearly, to harass the shit out of us each and every evening, and the most frustrating thing is that 90% of the time when we do trouble ourselves to answer the phone there's naught but a few clicks and a disconnect on the other end, denying us (me, really) the satisfaction of belching a sonnet into the receiver, an admittedly childish gesture but one which is rarely construed as "yes," or "please let me send you money!"

Things reached a new low this morning, however, when I took the following call from my old friend "Unavailable" while working from home, alone. Less a spammer and more a criminal, the caller likely hailed from India, with a pronounced accent and prim phone manner -- he was exceedingly earnest at the beginning of the call:

Me: Hello?

Caller: Sir, I am calling on behalf of your Windows computer. You are in trouble, sir.

Me: [Speechless -- I do not own a Windows computer, nor any computer which reaches out in time of need -- but am swallowing air as fast as I can to level Shakespeare at him when the time is ripe]

Caller: Sir, are you there? It is imperative that we check your computer for viruses and worms immediately.

Me: [Still trying to decide whether I simply hang up or play along, but a somewhat slow day at work, from home, urges the latter] Uh, wouldn't you be calling on behalf of Microsoft, and not Windows?

Caller: Sir, this is a serious situation. Your Windows computer contacted our department to let us know that you are in trouble. Please take a seat at your computer. Are you at your computer now?

Me: One second. [I decide to play along until such time as he knows that I know that we both know that he's an a-hole]

Caller: Sooo many computers are infected, sir. We have been very busy.

Me: Golly, I am no longer AFK, I am at my computer. [At this point I affect my best Gomer Pyle, thinking we would quickly reach the a-hole revelation together and get on with our separate days, but he doesn't notice the ridiculous impersonation or doesn't care]

Caller: Now, sir, in the lower left corner do you see the Start menu? Do you see it, sir? Click that menu, please.

Me: Shazam! I have that ol' Start menu up now.

Caller: Very good, sir. Now, can you right-click on the Computer item in that menu. C-O-M-P-U-T-E-R, sir. What do you see when you right-click on Computer, sir?

Me: [Still Gomer Pyling away] Surprise, surprise, surprise, that there menu just says, 'Please inform the caller that a chicken is pecking corn from his rectum.'

Caller: [Pauses] Sir, do you think this is a joke? Do you think that I am playing with you? [His voice breaks with a little laughter and we are nigh on the a-hole revelation]

Me: [Respectful at first but crescendoing to anger with hints of indignant nerd] Well, the problem you're up against, sir, is that I work with computers, have for the past 25 years, and I'm running Linux, so F*CK YOU!

I ended the call with those words and pecked out this angry missive, but just as I was about to get back to work I got another call from Unavailable, this time a recorded message from State Senator Joe Simitian, one I've heard two dozen times already, informing me in a chipper voice that he would be holding sidewalk office hours soon....

Is ridding ourselves of the landline the only remedy?

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