The Loh Life is writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh's weekly take on life, family, and pop culture in early 21st century Southern California.
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A date with Babul: Passage to India-- part 2

Sandra Tsing Loh continues her battle with her very uncooperative PC.

As I’ve been saying, like some kind of deranged CUBS fan, I’ve been a PC user for 30 years, and I happen to THINK that in 2012 they are worse than ever. It SEEMS to me that in the GOOD old days, you could buy a Windows-loaded PC, plus a Windows-compatible printer, and after just one or two WEEKS of struggle? You would be able to print out some TEXT on a piece of paper!

But no, now that Microsoft has come up with this NEW innovation called Windows 7-- Which is like some kind of HORROR movie series, isn’t it? “Oh, did you know Windows had a part SEVEN? It’s opening on Friday!” Anyway, it appears that Windows 7 has a new MISSION, which is to do nothing but stave off VIRUSES, which it does via a Pentagon-like series of FIREWALLS that forbids the computer to COMMUNICATE with any other appliance, website, or even its own potentially virus-filled human user.

At least I THINK it was firewalls. I couldn’t find any HELP. The MANUAL proffered some Hillary Clinton-esque suggestions for how to get my computer to “recognize” the EXISTENCE of my printer, which it sullenly kept refusing to do-- The Windows WIZARD thing kept ALLUDING to pull-down windows I couldn’t FIND-- At one point I asked the yapping cartoon DOG on my desktop to go FETCH some help--

The Microsoft website reveals no TELEPHONE numbers— If you have a technical question, you can email it-- Somewhere-- Another helpful thing Microsoft suggests is that you JOIN a trouble-shooting online CHAT group.

Sure--here is a place where you can pull up a virtual BEAN bag chair and RAP about your printer-driver problems with OTHER bereft Microsoft users-- Maybe THEY can suggest an answer-- give you a virtual backrub. My God, with all of his BILLIONS, why doesn’t Bill Gates buy us some tech support? Or at least a Microsoft USER mental health foundation, which I think is the one charity he HASN’T started!

OR--! You can call an 866 number through Hewlett-Packard and PAY for technical help. So I CALL the number, and a nice Indian man picks up, whose name FIRST sounds like Babul, although he keeps reassuring me, somewhat unconvincingly, that it is BOB. I DESCRIBE all the fixes I’ve TRIED, sure that being CHARGED is only for people who DIDN’T try hard enough.

Bob listens politely, even gives a few sympathetic murmurs. I finish, there is a beat, and then he says: “Sandra? I can help you, but I must tell you that there will be a charge.”

“It’s a brand new machine!” I protest. “I did everything in the manual!”

Bob says nothing. My voice drops.

“BOB. You’re going to make me PAY for it, aren’t you?”

Next week: our intimate encounter