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Steve Hansen: Computer gods don't really exist ... do they?

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Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 12:00 am

It was a Sunday afternoon, and time to email my column to the paper.

I pressed “SEND,” but soon, an “error” message appeared. I tried again and again, but no change.

“Maybe I have a virus,” I thought. “I know. I’ll run all my spiffy anti-viral software. That should solve the problem. Hey, it works for that cute blonde on TV.”

But the screen still showed the same “error” response. The time had come to reach out and call “technical support.”

Ring, ring. A recording answered: “Your call is very important to us. Please press this and press that. We really love you as a customer. Listen to our soothing elevator music while you’re waiting. At this time, due to an unusual volume of calls, all of our representatives are busy. The next available person should be with you shortly. Have a nice day.”

Finally, the music stopped and the phone rang again: “How can I help you?” the female voice, in perfect English, asked.

I told her my sad tale.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, sir. Here: Go into this and go into that. Change this number and that number. You should be fine. Have a nice day.”

Great. Back in business — or so I thought — but nooooo! Still the same problem. Still the same game and gauntlet in order to contact my carrier.

“Can I help you, sir?” the second technical assistant asked. “It has to be your email server,” she told me. “Switch over to ours and you should have no problem. Have a nice day.”

I took her advice, and yes, I’m sure you’ve already guessed the outcome. So, back to the phone and another walk through the same recorded runaround.

This time, I got a lady with a long Southern drawl.

“Have you ever used email before? OK, but have you ever used this email address before? That’s funny. It works for me. Must be your computer. What’s the brand? Never heard of that one. Well, have a nice day, anyway.”

The next “have a nice day” could have forced a normal person to do something regrettable — or at least make a mature man cry. However, it’s good that patience is my middle name. I decided to give it one more try.

I got someone in the Philippines. He told me he’d refer my case to “central control.” The good news was, he didn’t say, “Have a nice day.”

I waited 24 hours, but apparently “central control” had not gotten my case. It was now Monday evening and time for a cyberspace prayer.

I bowed my head: “Oh, great computer gods, wherever you might be. Please make my next phone call a productive one. If you do, I promise never to bully people on Facebook or criticize Obamacare again!”

I then picked up the phone and placed my last, desperate call.

Lo and behold, it was answered quickly by a voice on the other side that sounded like an angel. In soft tone, she said, “Steve, I can help you.”

“But, but, but ...” I replied, and quickly regressed into a diatribe about my previous experiences.

“Don’t worry,” the angelic voice replied. “Everything will be fine.”

After a few clicks and digital changes, my email worked perfectly!

“How did you ever pull this off when so many others had failed?” I asked her.

“This is not my regular job,” she replied. “I’m just here for a short time to help out this evening. It’s been a pleasure working with you, Steve. Good night.”

Could it be? Had the computer gods really answered my prayer? Did this really happen?

“Get ahold of yourself, man. There are no computer gods!”

It had to be coincidence. It just had to be! — or was it?

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

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