It must be summer. Why else would I be answering the phone. At all, let alone accepting calls from "Windows Security." It must be summer because I am seeking out human contact rather than having it controlled by a system of clocks and bells with hordes of short people vying for my attention during my waking hours. Taking a cold call from a helpful technician concerned about my Windows PC seems like an event in an otherwise dull day.
When my wife hands me the phone, I have to run through my initial shock sequence. "What? You say my Windows PC is sending error messages? Are you sure it's not my wife's Apple computer? She's working on it right now."
I can't help but feel a little victimized on this one, since like those jury summons, I just seem to be a magnet for computer support scams. Which is fine by me, especially in the summer, when I have all that daylight to burn. And since I always have that seed planted in my head that this might somehow be a legitimate concern, I listen carefully to what this fellow has to say.
When he sends me directly to the keyboard to press the "CTRL" key, I let him know how please I am to find out after all these years that that button is the "control key" that I have heard so much about. Right next to that is a key with a picture with four squares on it. I tell my concerned friend that it looks like a flag to me. This elicits the first of what will be many heavy sighs on the part of my concerned friend.
Nevertheless, he persists. He really wants me to press a combination of keys that will reveal to me, him, and the world the errors that have been transmitted by my now suspect PC. I continue to find ways to obfuscate his clear and insistent direction to press the CTRL, square, and "R" for Romeo or Roger keys all at once?
"All at once? Won't that break my keyboard?
I am assured at this point, with a heavy sigh, that this will not break my computer or any part of it. It will only enhance my Windows experience. I was then asked what I see on my screen.
"I see Civilization IV. It's the game I was playing when you called."
Eventually, he coerced me into minimizing the game so we could look more closely at the errors that were causing my computer to run so poorly.
"I haven't noticed anything particularly bad about how my computer has been running."
I was reassured that this would only be a matter of time before the whole thing went kerflooey. Or some other tech talk that I couldn't possibly understand.
"My son said that Windows Defender would take care of those kind of things."
Now I was told that my son may have been the reason that all of these errors were taking place. I took this news with a heavy heart, and an even heavier bladder.
"Do you mind if I go to the bathroom?" I really didn't care what he answered, since I was done with the practical part of this exam.
My concerned friend wanted to know why I wasn't taking his call more seriously.
"What? Just because I'm an older man and feel the call of nature, I promise you this is still my highest priority, but I don't want to have an accident."
He accused me of not being an older man, and suggested that maybe I was having fun with him. When I came back to the office and sat down, the heavy sighs had given way to huffing and puffing. I apologized for not taking his concern for my computer and the data within more seriously. We had been after this for more than ten minutes now, how could I not be taking this seriously?
"Especially when you're calling people with nothing but a phone list in hopes that you can get them to give up their machines to you."
He asked if I wanted him to wait on the line while I called the cops.
"Sure," I said. Then I sat the phone down in front of the speaker and played a little Lyle Lovett until I heard the dial tone. I guess he wasn't taking my problem very seriously anymore.