Daze of My Life: Compute This
Daze of My Life
Let's get something straight, the speed, or the lack thereof, with which my computer processes information or retrieves files or cycles through its various pathways, is not a reflection of who I am as a person, a co-worker, a consumer, etc. Nor does it judge my competence or completeness as a human being.
It's simply a mechanical-type connection for which ultimately I am not responsible. Furthermore, my computer literacy, or shall I say my computer's literacy, is a reflection of it, not me. I may not be the master of my computer's domain, but so what? And not understanding computerease or not assimilating computer trouble shooting or not having a computer that seems competitive--speed, design, features, benefits--with others, is no way diminishes me as a man.
Often conversations are had over the phone when one of the parties is either on-line or on his computer waiting to get on line, in response to the reason for your call/inquiry. And frequently, while waiting, there is a pause, dead silence, as the responder is interacting with his computer attempting to retrieve the information in order to answer your question. And it's during this awkward silence where the callee feels compelled to offer up an explanation, i.e. an excuse for the non-retrieval, in a timely fashion, of the information requested: apologizing for the computer's behavior as if (a) the computer has feelings or (b) that the person with whom you're speaking is somehow responsible for the computer's electronic abilities to locate the information that precipitated your call.
Well, as Tommy Lee Jones so famously replied to Harrison Fords' plea in the movie, "The Fugitive," while Ford was standing on that cliff looking down at the river below, imploring that he didn't kill his wife, so too will I now say in response to the callee's attempt at customer service: I don't care, either, except that unlike Tommy Lee Jones, I'm not going to arrange for a hard target search, "in every outhouse, farmhouse, hen house,..." to determine why.
I have no interest in hearing about the computer or its problems. It's slow because it's slow. Nor do I need to hear about some hypothetical explanation or the weather locally or a power outage; it is what is and let's get on to resolving this matter some other way or at some other time--no problem. I don't take the computer problems personally any more than I blame the callee for them. It's technology pure and simple. Mostly it's a tool but sometimes that tool is a wrench.
So don't make small talk with me. Just answer my question; resolve my dispute; credit my account; adjust my balance; let me talk to a supervisor; whatever, just don't patronize me, and if the you can't assist me, you can't. I won't be mad. I'll be frustrated for sure, but it has nothing to do with you. The computer is a machine, it is not a man; it is not having a bad day. Tell me you'll get back to me as soon as you can access the information. Apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused but never, ever, apologize for your computer. Can anybody do that or must you advocate on your computer's behalf? I understand that it may be your job, but it's my life. If I don't care about the computer, then why should you?
Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.