1-800illerate Computer Illiterate~ Support Call
 "Welch Hall computer assistant; may I help you?"

 "Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect."

 "What sort of trouble?"

 "Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went

 "Went away?"

 "They disappeared."

 "Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?"



 "It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type."

 "Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?"

 "How do I tell?"

 [Uh-oh. Well, let's give it a try anyway.] "Can you see the C:\ prompt
 on the screen?"

 "What's a sea-prompt?"

 [Uh-huh, thought so. Let's try a different tack.] "Never mind. Can you
 move the cursor around on the screen?"

 "There isn't any cursor: I told you, it won't accept anything I type."

 Ah--at least s/he knows what a cursor is. Sounds like a hardware
 problem. I wonder if s/he's kicked out his/her monitor's power plug.]
 your monitor have a power indicator?"

 "What's a monitor?"

 "It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it
 a little light that tells you when it's on?"

 "I don't know."

 "Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power
 cord goes into it. Can you see that?"

 [sound of rustling and jostling] [muffled] "Yes, I think so."

 "Great! Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's plugged into
 the wall."

 [pause] "Yes, it is."

 [Hmm. Well, that's interesting. I doubt s/he would have accidentally
 turned it off, and I don't want to send him/her hunting for the power 
switch because I don't know what kind of monitor s/he has and it's bound
 have more than one switch on it. Maybe the video cable is loose or

 "When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two
 cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?"


 "Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the

 [muffled] "Okay, here it is."

 "Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back
 your computer."

 [still muffled] "I can't reach."

 "Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is?"

 [clear again] "No."

 "Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?"

 "Oh, it's not because I don't have the right angle--it's because it's


 "Yes--the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in
 from the window."

 "Well, turn on the office light then."

 "I can't."

 "No? Why not?"

 "Because there's a power outage."

 "A power--!?!" ...[AAAAAAARGH!]

 This person was good friends with my supervisor, so I couldn't deal
 him/her the way I really wanted to, and was forced to explain sweetly
 gently to him/her that computers needed power just like office lights,
 and if the office lights were out, then the computer was too, and that
 yes, if s/he hadn't saved her work s/he had probably lost everything 
s/he'd done so far in WordPerfect. 

But I could still fantasize:

 "A power outage? Aha! Okay, we've got it licked now. Do you still have
 the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in?"

 "Well, yes, I keep them in the closet."

 "Good! Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it
 was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it

 "Really? Is it that bad?"

 "Yes, I'm afraid it is."

 "Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?"

 "Tell them you're TOO STUPID TO OWN A COMPUTER!" [slam]

Brian R. Murphy
Merchant Web Design
Public Online Communication Corp.
(800) 481-7711 x8223