Thursday, February 08, 2007

Technology Kryptonite

Even Superman was vulnerable to Kryptonite, so I shouldn't feel shame that I too have a weak spot. In my case, it's not glowing rocks from my doomed home planet that sap my super strength, but rather the simple telephone that destroys my geeky mojo.

When I worked at Dell in Technical Support, I was in "The Swamp", the only (at that time) overnight crew. We took calls on everything Dell sold, from servers to laptops to modems and graphics cards. If Dell stocked it, we supported it. This was in marked contrast to the daytime techs (or "Weenies" as we called them) who could punt all the hard calls up the tech hierarchy and only had to troubleshoot easy stuff ("Yes, the power in the house has to be on for the computer to work, that's not a design flaw").

Hell, I even remember trying to help a guy fix the trackball on his Latitude notebook computer, and I had never even seen a trackball. "Trackball, trackball," I was thinking frantically, searching for an image on the internal web site. "Surely he's not using a piece of sports equipment for a pointing device ... " But I fixed it, along with all of the other calls on equipment I'd never seen before and knew only from spotty and incomplete online tech manuals.

All the other equipment, that is, except for anything involving phones.

Phones are Evil
Phones have hated me for as long as I can remember. In high school I was trying to woo a girl on the phone, and she fell asleep on me. I blamed AT&T and not my sparkling wit. My cell phones keep leaping out of my hands to dash themselves on the pavement, desperate to escape my clutches. I'm on my fifth modem in my home computer as the others keep flaming out -- they hate me, I know it. I even got a vicious cut on my hand once trying to replace one of the little bastards, and although I can't prove it I am pretty sure it was faking an injury and packing a shiv.

My incompetence extends to anything with a phone type of device in it, as well, which has led to some nasty tussles with fax machines. They keep eating my originals, shredding my documents, refusing to transmit, and flash the date at me in defiance of every effort to program them. They're even starting to get proactive on me -- I had a fax machine calling my house every hour for three days once. Tell me that was an accident!

I've learned to accept this chink in my armor over the last decade or so. Just as Superman coats himself in lead to resist Kryptonite rays, or sends a surrogate Super-Robot out to handle the deadly stuff, I too have become adept at negating telephony's nefarious hold. I simply refuse to answer the phone most of the time, under the assumption that if I don't open myself up, I can't be damaged. Letting the cell phone run out of electricity is also a good maneuver -- if it can't ring, I'm at no risk.

Sadly, this entire week I have been held helpless in the thrall of my age old enemy, as the wireless modem we use for Internet access has up and died on us. It took a year for it to figure out it was, in fact, a modem and that it should thus hate me, but it's certainly making up for lost time. In fact its loathing cascaded all the way up the line, knocking out two relay stations further along the chain in an effort to make me buckle. And buckle I have, my friends -- I haven't been able to get online from home in a week now.

I suspect that phones are actually not just my personal technological Kryptonite, but are in fact RED Kryptonite, the variety that has unpredictable effects on the Man of Steel. Once it even made him grow super-fat -- I bet that's what is happening with my phones. Somehow they're not only robbing me of my super tech support abilities, but they've made me put on forty pounds and go bald. If I can blame them for my back hair, too, I'm pretty sure I've got a rock-solid case for a lawsuit against Ma Bell.


Jimmy Mac said...

Smells like another example of corporate giants sticking it to the little man. You are clearly a member of a protected class, and you are being targeted because of it.
Now, if only you knew a good lawyer ...

Anonymous said...

You might need to start wearing tin foil on your head whenever you talk on the phone. I remember once taking back a telephone I'd broken to the AT&T office. The woman looked at the box, smirked and said, "These phones are indestructible." I showed her the phone. She said she'd never seen anything like it. I felt like that ape in the Samsonite commercial. So maybe it's in the genes and we need to blame Mom and Dad for our lack of dexterity and skill with a phone! Hey, I just figured out how to silence my phone the other day and it's 2 years old... Your eldest sister!

John said...

I came into contact with Fuscia K, and now I can't get me enough o' them Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals...