Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tech Support? It's all relative

My mom sent me an email the other day with a link to an item she was interested in on eBay. I thought she could find a better deal, so I started to email her back and then figured, calling her would be easier.

Over the phone we navigated her options: bid, wait and bid later, buy it now. I urged her to find a buy-it-now item and save the hassle of waiting to bid. It took about 10 minutes for her to find the item I was looking at since our pages were loading differently, but she finally found it and bought it. Now.

Then I walked her through the PayPal process. She has an account and even has her own store on Etsy, so she's not a computer newbie. But for some reason, helping her pay for her item caused me to do some deep breathing and to thank the Lord above that I don't work a job as tech support. That's wisely left for those who can fall back on the fact that English isn't usually their mother-tongue and therefore, even when they mutter an obscenity, we're likely to mistake it for computer-lingo.

She was about to check out and then hit a snag. "What?" she asked. "I'm not going to donate $18 to the Red Cross. I guess I just click off this, but I don't think I paid for it."

"No, don't click off!" I said. "The item you bought is $18. They just want to know if you want to give an extra dollar to Haiti relief. Just keep going through the checkout." Finally she clicked the right button and up popped a receipt for her payment. She apologized several times for wasting my time but I assured her it was fine. I'm always glad to help.

Then the ball landed in my court.

I have a bad habit of leaving multiple Word documents open. I know if a kid clicks one or more closed or if my computer restarts itself to update my system, Word will recover my last versions and I'm good to go. The other morning I discovered my computer had run an update overnight, and I recovered one document and began working, clicking on some command that, like my pile of dirty laundry, would allow me to get to it later. Then later came around and I couldn't find the file because I hadn't named it. It was still an orphan, unclaimed and floundering in cyber-city.

I called my sister.

"Help," I said. "Do you have Vista?"

"Yes," she said.

"What do you do when you can't find an unsaved document?" She told me to search my history. I'd already tried that and it wasn't there but I suck at history, so that was no surprise. Then she told me to search for it by a word that might have been in the document. That didn't work either because I couldn't figure out how to do the search. She proceeded to send me a text message with a photo attached of her computer screen, her helpful finger pointing to the window where you input the word you're searching for. Her screen was different than mine, so...not much help.

"Just close out Word and it should come back up as recovering your unsaved work when you restart Word," she said. Actually, I think she presented this option earlier. I just ignored her, thinking that was too easy. She was right; it worked.

And like my mother said to me, I apologized for her having to walk me through kindergarten keyboarding.

Then a few days later, I was uncharacteristically out shopping in a real store (not eBay or Amazon) and my phone buzzed. This time it wasn't my son asking if I'd seen any shoes for him (it's his vice) or his asking when was I coming home. It was my sister. The message read: How do you insert text over a photo and have the photo fade out? I'm trying to make an invitation.

Ah, this I knew how to do, so I called her back and walked her through it while I shopped for shoes.

We might not be the most tech-savvy family, but we know enough to help each other out of a bind once in a while. And I know how to hit 'mute' before I utter any profanities. I don't want to be mistaken for knowing more computer jargon than necessary. I'm not that supportive.


Elizabeth Lynd said...

I'm not sure I'm even kidding when I joke that tech support keeps me married.

And then you remember the pages I read at the retreat, when the character loses some stuff she's been working on because she doesn't save--yeah, I got corrected there. And dang, it was a plot point.

I'm basically a Luddite. But it's nice of you to let me know who to call when my efforts to remain in the 19th Century fail.

Pamela Hammonds said...

I'm here if you need me, Elizabeth. Just don't leave Allyn because of my mad computer skills.

Aunt Mari said...

I promise I will try harder to be more independent. One of my (known to me) problems is I don't scroll down to the end of the page, to complete the information. Sorry! Just a "little" intimidated, I think, by the whole process.