My computer, which, let’s face it, has a hard enough life, recently received a notice from its antivirus, umm … thing. Program! Yes! That’s the word. Program. Now you begin to understand why I say my computer should be getting combat pay. It’s dealing with a human who either cannot think of the name of a simple umm … thing, or never knew the name of the thing in the first place.
In any event, even this woefully inadequate human knows a computer needs a good anti-virus. This is because there are under-stimulated 17-year-olds all over the world who have nothing better to do than to write umm … programs that will irrevocably scramble the innards of a computer. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men are no match against an evil-minded teenager. So my computer got this email saying it was time to renew the antivirus. All sorts of horrifying consequences were predicted unless the computer’s slave (that’s me) ran right to the Internet and bought more protection.
The email illustrated in terms even a human could understand how to renew the program. I followed the steps exactly. Exactly. The only thing that didn’t happen exactly was the correct window coming up saying “subscription verification.” Remember this term. It will become more important than your social security number.
Thus, I was forced to call customer service. We all know just how dire things must be to elicit a call to customer service. But obviously I have amassed a great deal of good karma because (1) someone answered my call almost immediately (2) that someone, whose name is Zia, spoke a language with which I am familiar (3) Zia was kind … very kind and (4) Zia knew how to fix the problem. Sort of.
The first issue with which we had to deal was the fact that my anti-virus program had not been registered. Zia did not, to put it mildly, approve of programs that have not be registered. She said, “not registered” in the same tone of voice someone else might say “ax murderer.” There is no room in Zia’s world for an unregistered anti-virus. There were two ways to fix the problem. Three, if you count throwing the computer against the wall with a great deal of force. The first was to run some other program that would investigate the unregistered program. Zia warned this was a very time-intensive process. She used that “ax murderer” tone of voice again which told me we were going with option two if at all possible. Option two was (cue scary music … da-da-DA!) to give Zia remote control of my computer so she could get rid of the middleman. The middleman, you understand, is me.
Handing over control of one’s computer is the 21st century equivalent of sacrificing your first-born child in exchange for a good crop. Not quite everything, but a whole bunch of my stuff is on that computer. Some of my manuscripts, some of my emails, some of my aviation records, and all of my brain are encompassed in that thin black case. And now some total stranger, even one as nice as Zia, wanted to take control of it.
We all know that by this stage of the game I was going to do whatever Zia told me to do. She instructed me on what to type into the address window. I did it and she took over. The comforting thing was that Zia knew she was dealing with a rank amateur. She told me in great detail exactly what she was going to do, why she was doing it, and how it would look on my screen. A little window opened up outlining second by second what was going on. Then the cursor came alive. It flowed, it zipped, it looped across the screen in graceful lazy arcs. Zia played my computer like a Stradivarius. The one thing she couldn’t seem to manage was to make the window saying “subscription verification” show a correct result. With the optimistic voice of the true believer, Zia would say things like “We’ve got it now” or “This will fix it.” Then the subscription verification window would show the same incorrect data it had been showing for thirty minutes. Apparently the only thing Zia dislikes worse than unregistered programs is incorrect data. That woman was relentless. After 45 minutes of trying, during which her carpal tunnel syndrome must have hit lethal levels, Zia got my computer to tell her that my subscription had been verified and how many days I have left on that exhaustively verified subscription.
It seems the warning that the apocalypse was near if I didn’t renew immediately used the term “immediately” in a, shall we say, lose manner. I had two months left on the old subscription which is just about how much time it would have taken me to figure this out on my own.
(The rest of the story: today I got a notice saying my antivirus program is expiring soon.)
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.