Love on the Tech Support Line

fairy-tale-1314678Having updated my computer recently, I needed some help recalling how to restore my files and information from the external hard-drive backup to the new computer. First, I called Apple. Since I use their Time Machine, I thought it would be a relatively quick and painless process. Though the average wait time was supposed to be “longer than usual,” my call was picked up relatively quickly. Maxwell said he could help me without any difficulty whatsoever. He asked me to verify my name. I did so.

“Wow,” said Maxwell, “Alexandria Constantinova. That’s a beautiful name.”

“Thank you.”

“I don’t think I ever heard a name so beautiful.”

“Thank you very much. I changed my name as soon as I was legally and financially able to…”

“And your voice… It’s so… beautiful…”


“And I just love your laugh.”


“It’s really beautiful…”

“Maxwell, could we…”

“Alexandria Constantinova. It sounds like Russian aristocracy. Are you Russian aristocracy?”

“Yes. My real name was Anastasia, but it got too much attention, so I changed it.”

“Are you as beautiful as your name?” said Maxwell. “Do you look like a princess?”

naficeh-1432782Now, if I were about the age of the lovely princess fairy in the photo above, I might be flattered by the fact that Maxwell kept addressing me as “Princess.”

If I lived in a palace like this,

hluboka-castle-at-night-1-1486316or in a castle like this,


I might even request that Maxwell call me “Princess.”

But I’m not a fairy princess, don’t live in a palace or a castle, and I had a lot of work to do. I needed to get my computer restored. I reminded him why I’d called. Coughing nervously, he again told me that he’d never heard of a name more beautiful or spoken to anyone who was Russian aristocracy before…

I began to wonder how long Maxwell had been drinking on the job, and whether his fellow tech support  unit could see him sitting at his desk, surrounded by fumes of vodka. I wondered if they were aware of his fixation on Russian aristocracy, which has not existed since the Tsar and his entire family were executed during the Russian Revolution.

Claiming I had another call coming in, I discreetly disconnected from Maxwell — who did not return the call, by the way — and called in to another tech, who led me through the steps without drooling over my name.

princess-1-1577494Next on the list was Microsoft. It’s changed the way it handles Office and Word, including Office for Mac, which I use in creating e-books and other documents. Now customers pay for a subscription, which basically means that for $99/year, you get unlimited phone, chat, and email support. Since I’d bought the new Office 365, with Office for Mac 2016, while my computer still on the FedEx truck heading for my office, I hadn’t downloaded the software.

Also, more troubling, I couldn’t find the product activation key anywhere, though I had all the purchase order numbers and emails verifying my purchase. And I’d paid for the small business package, so that I could load it onto 1-5 computers.

I needed tech support. Irving came on the line. After I explained that I couldn’t find the download page, he, too, asked me to verify all my personal information, including the email I use with Microsoft. I did so.

princess-1-1434100Irving set up a “screen-sharing” session, when the Tech Support personnel can see what’s on your screen and guide you through the necessary steps. I’ve done it many times in the past, mostly with Apple, and I’ve used Microsoft Word and Office since 1989, so I was comfortable “sharing my screen” with Irving.

The major difference between Apple’s and Microsoft’s “screen-sharing” sessions, however, is that Apple can only point a big red cursor at what it wants you to click, while Microsoft can actually control your computer with its cursor.

Chatting merrily away, Irving got the download started, clicking Okay, Agree, and Continue to everything — which is what I would have done, of course, but then the cursor whipped across the desktop to a folder titled “Alexandria’s Books.”

“What’s this?” said Irving.


“This folder here.”

“My books.”

“You write books?”

“I do.”

“Had any of them published?”

“All of them.”

princess-headwear-1-1424186Now, I have to admit that something similar to this part of the conversation has happened before, with various tech support personnel, from many different companies. Often, when I’m buying software or computers or upgrading said items, support personnel ask me what I want to do with the equipment and software.

When I tell them I’m an author, they sometimes ask if I’ve written anything they might have heard of. I usually tell them they probably haven’t, but I have had a few tech support people in the past who had heard of my first novel, for example — and some had actually read it — or of my Mastering Point of View (1st edition) because they wanted to be writers themselves.

They’re usually very excited to be talking to an author, and they do everything they can to help me get back to work as soon as possible.

“Oh, my god,” Irving suddenly blurted out while we were waiting for the installation of Office for Mac 2016 to complete. “Is that you?”

“I’m still here,” I said, not really understanding the question in the first place.

“No, I mean, is that picture you?”

I had no idea what Irving meant since no tech who “screen-shares” can see your desktop photo, and, in any event, mine is of Mads Mikkelsen.

“What picture?”

The Alexandria Papers,” said Irving. “Is that you?”

“Oh, that’s my blog. What’d you do: look me up on your computer while waiting for the download?”

“Is that picture of you?”

“The typewriter keys?” I said, trying to steer him away from any tangential conversation. “No, that’s just a photo of the kind of typewriter I learned to type on. You know, the manual kind. ‘Cause I’m lots older than you are, I’m guessing.”

“I mean, is that red-head you?” said Irving, not to be distracted by anything as trivial as my age.

“Uh, well, yes…”

“How recent?”

“About 2 weeks ago. Maybe 3.”

That red-head is you? Oh, my god…”

“You’re probably looking at the wrong page, Irving.”

“You’re so beautiful,” said Irving. “You look like a princess.”


Irving sent me his email, his phone number, and his cell number — and I’m guessing Irving lives in India since it was an international number — in case I ever needed to get in touch with him about the download and the installation.

All of which Irving was handling just fine remotely, clicking away until everything was up and running.

I thanked him profusely and finally managed to get off the call after I checked my email, while Irving waited on the line, to reassure him that I had, indeed, gotten his email with all the pertinent

My last call that longest day ever was to Verizon since I’d decided to raise my data allowance. Despite Apple’s constant denials, ever since its Mavericks & Yosemite OS, and its iOS 7-9, the data drain has been enormous, especially if you leave your WiFi on, and even if your computer is asleep. I knew iOS9 was coming out, that the new El Capitan OS was coming, and I do have blogs to write, tweets to tweet, Facebook posts to post, for the remainder of the month, etc., and I didn’t want to go over my data limit.

Wilken was more than happy to help me adjust my monthly data allowance, while giving me a substantial discount for being such a loyal customer since 2008, with so many “unencumbered” devices (which means that I bought them elsewhere, so only one of my devices is under contract, and that one is only under contract for a few more weeks). Verizon is happy to give you a discount on each device that could be taken to another company without penalty, for up to two years, but you have to ask for it: Verizon doesn’t advertize this fact.

While I was waiting for the final monthly bill figures, Wilken suddenly spoke, sounding strangely dreamy.

“Alexandria Constantinova,” he said. “What a lovely name. It sounds like the name of a princess.”


Filed under Humor, Memoir

2 Responses to Love on the Tech Support Line

  1. Hayden Hickman


    Judging by this post, I can only assume the frequent calls to numerous forms of tech support has given you the ability to create a memorable conversation with a vast crowd of listeners during the duration of that phone call, others being memorable in some manner. I see these gentlemen took a serious liking to your name.

    I truly hope with your busy schedule and the many advisors that have accompanied you during it, that you remember one specific call you made to Apple Care, and was assisted by a young man named Hayden.
    By chance the memory has slipped you, there is no need to feel bad, because the call has stuck with me throughout the hundreds of cases I have created with our customers since then.

    During our call, once the initial problem was resolved, we struck the topic of my desire to write, and creating a sense of urgency for your writing, and proceeded to share stories for nearly an hour after resolving your issue.

    Over the Halloween weekend, I attended a party at a friend’s house, where we spent the beginning of the evening. Once the party was shut down by police, I end up at a house party across the street, where a dear friend I haven’t seen since junior high was visiting with mutual friends. We greet each other with hugs and hand snaps, and immediately go into detail about our lives since we’ve last spoken. He was involved in music and writing like I was during middle school, and always reminded me how much he looked up to me when we were growing up.
    To this day, he is still an aspiring artist, writing every single day, creating his recordings when he can, and pushing himself to . My heart warmed at the sight of him feeling the beat and sharing his written work with me, and I expressed the difficulties I’ve been facing lately with my own writing.
    He too gave me the same advice of being urgent and being consistent with the process, instantly registering the day you and I spoke in my memory bank.

    I know these encounters I have made, and the people that have touched my life are special. More respectfully, they are sacred, and have done a large amount of good in my life; an amount that a simple email could not do justice.
    These days will always be with me in the distances that I travel, and the knowledge that I gained from them will take me to those distances.

    I’d like to thank you again for taking the time to share your stories with the people with whom you come into contact, for installing a sense of encouragement into somebody who needed it at the time, and of course, for calling Apple Care.

    – Hayden.

    • My dearest Hayden,
      How could I forget you? What are the odds of connecting on a tech support line with someone who wants to be a writer and author? I remember that you helped me solve the problem I was having most efficiently and happily. Then discovered that I was a writer and mentioned that you wanted to be a writer. I love helping writers, and I am always happy to give them some advice, recommend some resources, or encourage them. No one ever encouraged me when I was young and said I wanted to be a writer: in fact, my family actively discouraged me. For that reason, I always promised that I would “give back” if I ever became a successful writer.

      The day those techs “fell in love with my name” was bizarre because 3 of them did it on the same day, and I had to keep reminding them of why I called. I felt as if I had entered Beckett-Land, where everything is absurd. Sometimes, I just have to write those kind of blogs down. Of course, I didn’t use their real names: I would never do that.

      I have made hundreds of tech support calls to Apple Care and to MS and Verizon, and there are very few that I actually recall in detail. Yours is one of them. That very week, I talked to a young lady at Verizon who, after she solved my problem with my internet connection, asked what my job was that I did on the internet, “if I didn’t mind saying.” When I told her I was a writer, she said that she had just asked for a break from work, without pay, to write. I directed her to some of my posts where I mentioned that I had taken time off work, without pay, and borrowed money from the bank to write my first novel. So I remember both of you very well, and I’ve often wondered what happened to you.

      Sometimes, the encounters we make change our lives, even if they are only over the phone. The fact that the two of you, that week, wanted to be writers and asked for resources, got me revising my nonfiction book on writing and point of view, which my editor had been trying to get me to do for two years. Your meeting your friend after the Halloween party was yet another sign, to you, from the Universe, that you should be working on your writing.

      I hope you are, and I sent you a private email so we can stay in touch.

      My contact with you, in case you couldn’t tell from this humorous blog post, meant more to me than those with the persons who fell in love with my name. That’s why I didn’t write a humorous post on our contact: it was serious, and meant a lot to me.

      I hope you are writing, and that you will keep in touch with me via the email I sent you.


      p.s. I’ve never been to a Halloween party that was shut down by the police. Was it exciting? xxx
      p.p.s. Best of luck to your friend, too, in his own artistic career.

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