Having 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.”
“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?”
If I lived in a palace 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.
Next 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.
Irving 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.”
“You write books?”
“Had any of them published?”
“All of them.”
Now, 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.
“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…”
“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 information.
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.”