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Let’s break for a rant…

Last night, for only the 3rd time in 28 years (that I can remember) MDW and I had a falling out. It wasn’t serious, and there were no harsh words, just exasperated ones. And there is no question of my part that my love for her has been affected in any way (can’t speak for her though). Basically, it boiled down to a difference of opinion on what she expected from the helpdesk service I provide her with, and the what I was actually prepared to put up with.

I know technical jargon causes most of you glaze over and go completely blank, but I want you to appreciate my sense of frustration, so for that reason that I’ve decided to use the old faithful ‘automobile analogy’ instead. In the following dialogue, ‘new computer’ has been replaced with ‘new car’, while ‘Firefox and Thunderbird’ will represented by groceries, the shop is Moxilla’s download site. Other than that the following dialogue is pretty much as it happened.

MDW: Hi Sweetheart, I got my new car, it’s a cute little convertible.

WT: That’s fantastic, I’m really happy for you. I hope it runs well.

M: But I need groceries, what do I do?

W: You need to go to the shop and get them.

M: How do I do that?

W: Just drive there, you’ve got a new car.

M: Where it is?

W: You mean the shop you always go to?

M: Yes, that one.

W: But it’s the same one you always use!

M: Yes, but I have a new car.

W: That shouldn’t make any difference, you’ve been driving for 30 years and you drive everyday. Cars don’t change that much from one model to the next, and the shop is where it’s always been, but ok, turn right at the end of the street, then take the next right, then up the hill and right at the top, and left into the carpark.

Waiting for her to tell me she is there. A few minutes later…I get the call.

M: How do I start the car?

W: Jesus! Just put the key in the ignition and turn it to the right!

M: There isn’t an ignition.

W: What? There has to be. It should be on the steering column.

M: No, there’s no ignition there.

At this point I get the specs of last year’s model, it may not be exactly the same, but it should help. And yes, there is definitely an ignition there.

W: Ok, tell me what you have so I can check them against the specs.

M: There’s a big dial with numbers on it.

W: That’s either the Speedo or the Tacho.

M: It says 10, then some dashes, then 20 and some more dashes….

W: Let me stop you there, that’s the Speedo.

M: Then there’s a 30 and some more dashes, then a 40 and some more dashes….

M: Yes I get it, it’s the Speedo, what else do you see?

M: There’s another dial, it has 1000  some dashes and…

W: Yes that’s the Tacho, what else?

M: 2000 and some dashes….

W: For fuck sake! I know! It’s the fucking Tacho! What else?

M: A lever that makes the windscreen wipers go back and forth.

W: Yep, that would be the windscreen wiper lever. And the other one should turn the blinkers on.

M: Wait a minute…


M: Yes that right.

Having gone through every other knob and switch on the dashboard, I’m convinced that it’s not there. So in a last ditched desperate effort to save the situation, I ask her to look at the steering column again.

M: What’s the steering column?

W: The bit the holds the fucking steering wheel! for christ sake!

M: (annoyingly unflappable as always), No, there’s no ignition there.

W: Well I’m fucked. sorry I can’t help you. You’re on your own.

Five minutes later another phone call..

M: I found a key hole.

W: That’s the ignition, it’s been called the ignition since they were first installed in cars! Ok, you should have no problem now, call me when you get back from the shop with your groceries.

Five minutes later the phone rings again…

W: So, you’ve got them?

M: How do I get out of the garage?

W: You’re fucking kidding right? Just put it in reverse, release the parking brake and ease on the petrol.

M: Well I know that!  But how do I put it in reverse?

W: Just grab the fucking gearstick and put is where it says R on the knob!!

M: There isn’t a gearstick.

At this point all communication ceased abruptly, and that’s how things remain.

The Taskbar, a Window, the Desktop, an Application, a Browser, an Email Client, a File, Firewall Settings, the Operating System and a numbner of other terms and functions are standard, basic components of computing. If you use a computer you need to know what they are, so familiarise yourself with them, particularly if you want someone to help you over the phone.


50 Responses

  1. Ok sorry for the plurk, that is rant worthy.

  2. I feel YDW’s pain. Not every car is the same – so there.

  3. Beckie – agreed, but no-one moved the shop or renamed the streets.

  4. LOL, don’t run a help desk, but have employes and I’ve definitely been there and done that!

  5. uh-oh….snicker snicker. This is officially the first rant that included the MDW. Do I forsee a trip to the coast in the near future?

  6. You wouldn’t be a normal couple if you didn’t have some er….disagreements? Misunderstandings? Outright fights?? I’m pretty experienced at this. This too shall pass…

  7. Hang on! Was it a red car or a blue one? Just askin’…… I’m totally lost!
    (Not totally, I know which gear stick I’d be hurtin’)

    As soon as I started reading this post I was like hang on, he is behaving just like someone I know! Just because you guys know how “everything works” doesn’t mean we all do!


    Now go buy her some flowers and grovel! Nasty Man!

  8. I feel for your DW we can’t all be technical geniuses and I can vouch that sometimes even basics are hard to remember!

  9. Having had my share of frustrating tech support calls where some guy with a heavy Indian (or other non-English speaking) accent named Bob (for Pete’s sake!) derides me for not knowing what’s wrong with my computer and then tells me I should never install software again on my own (yeah, because *that’s* what’s wrong!), I sympathize with your wife. However, knowing that you speak fairly comprehensible English (if with a heavy Aussie accent), and having had too many calls from my mother in law in which she seems to think I am tech support and refers to everything as a thingy or a dealy except that her thingies and dealies are different from the things I would call thingies and dealies and where she is not wearing her reading glasses and cannot actually see the computer screen properly, I completely side with you. You should still buy your wife flowers (or chocolate or something) because you can’t win against a woman. Thankfully for me I have just learned to cherish any little frustrated silences between me and my mil. Kidding, kidding. She’s really pretty cool for a mil. I just vent to dh who responds with backrubs or by leaving me alone to blog which are my version of flowers and chocolate.

  10. Hell I’m more confused than ever. Now go apologize and have make up nooky.

  11. I usually play the role of your DW with a friend who is a computer guy, we have these kinds of conversations all the time, he usually ends up at my house so he can just do it himself :-).

  12. The right answer to “but I need groceries, what do I do?” would have been: “hold that thought, Darling, I will deliver them ASAP. Love you, see you soon.”
    Short, sweet, and much less stressful for both parties.

  13. WT, and moving the shop or renaming the streets is SO not the point when YDW is asking for help.

  14. SO, what’s your point? Please call me and tell me how to add a BlogRoll to my side bar, ok? I’ll be patiently waiting for the phone to ring…now, what do I do when it rings?
    BTW, I want a special place on your side bar. I’ll also be patiently waiting on that, too.

  15. Firewall settings…that’s one I would have to look up.

    And even though you were using automotive terms to describe the computer process, this convo sounds strangely similar to the ones I have with the daughter while I’m attempting to teach her to drive. While we ARE IN THE SAME CAR.

    Can you come teach her?

  16. That is a conversation I have everyday. And they really are about cars!

  17. Ouch! You understandably want her to stand on her own two feet but if I were the expert on how to operate something I wouldn’t mind bending over backwards to help. Did you ask for critique? Oh no, you didn’t. Sorry. I’m usually not the expert so I suppose I don’t know how crazy this drives you.

  18. I know your frustration, I’ve had similar conversations with others before! And you are right, they are basically the same!!

  19. I empathize on both sides, actually. I remember the first time I was confronted with one of those beasts (a Craptiva from RadioShack). I was terrified of the thing, but my husband du jour told me not to worry, that I wouldn’t break it. Many years and computers later, I’m better at it than he is (although that computer and husband are both long gone). Now I get frustrated listening to MD2ndH trying to help total idiots via remote assist…oh the PAIN! So yeah, I can see both sides quite well. And no, I did not just call your DW an idiot 🙂

  20. I would have gotten so perturbed I would have stopped answering the phone about halfway through this…You just can’t “help” some people.

  21. Hmmm, are you having your monthlies?

  22. Even though you mention that this was an analogy, I was imagining your poor wife in a car without an ignition.

    “At this point all communication ceased abruptly, and that’s how things remain.” This does not sound like a good state of affairs.

  23. I think that I would have followed this so much better if
    A) for half the rant I thought M meant me and W meant Wife and
    B) if it HAD been in computer speak.

  24. On second thought, strangely enough I know the computer expert side of this. Even though I am far from an techie, I tried to help my sister long distance start a blog. She had a difficult time comprehending the difference between username and display name and was confused by the password. I spent hours on the phone and sent several e-mail messages trying to help her. This was an exasperating afternoon.

    On the other hand, you should kiss and make-up. Ranting is not half as much fun as making-up.

  25. Holy Shit, WT!! I am glad that I don’t drive near you!! I’d say you are in for a triple time make up session, complete with flowers. Oh, and possibly a most profuse apology!!

  26. Oooh, she’s gonna kick your ass the next time she sees you. I’ll bet she finds a brand new use for that “gearstick”.

    Please put my $5 bet on your lovely, annoyingly unflappable wife.

  27. Hilarious, I’m afraid. Also, 3 fallings-out (falling-outS??) in 28 years, is pretty marvellous.

    Suggest a trip to Coast this weekend, you can show her the garage and then have make-up sex. Win-win.

  28. MDW is lucky. at least when she calls her own personal help desk she doesn’t get someone with a strong Indian accent.

  29. Fantastic rant! Cannot tell you how often I’ve been there. I laughed, I cried…

  30. Aww, I knew there was a “falling out”. I sensed it.

    Anyway, rants are a favorite of mine! Love how you did this one! Hilarious! And yet helpful…

    I can sympathize with YDW, because I’d probably be just as lost!

    3 in 28 years, I just can’t imagine… You lucky dog, you.

  31. At this point all communication ceased abruptly, and that’s how things remain.

    That’s coming up for 14 years now in my case WT, recommend immediate remedial action!!!!!

  32. I sympathize with your wife AND you…your wife because sometimes I feel this lost, and YOU because I fear a few times I’ve pushed you close to this level of frustration!!! I’m glad I didn’t get an automotive rant!!! I think it is her way of telling you she needs you…maybe she wants you to come for a visit. I say plan a trip down to the coast and help her out. It’ll smooth things over, it’ll make her happy, it’ll make you happy, and maybe you’ll get lucky too!!!!

  33. hahahahah….hey, you know some of us just want to turn the thing on and work just the way we want, you know??? I mean, if it’s a brand new car, the last thing I want to do is take it to the shop!! I want it to work dammit!

  34. I came back over just to check to see if you’re still ranting…and, you are.

  35. HAHAHAHA! I swear my dad and I have had the same conversations (except he would never cuss at me). But I’m sure I frustrated him every bit as much! You see, you and my dad “speak computer.” If I have a problem, I call him, much like I’m sure your DW calls you. Because I believe him to be all-knowing when it comes to computers, I fully expect that he will be able to read my mind and see through my eyes when I call him with my problem. I’m sure your DW feels the same way about you. You should really consider it to be a compliment.

  36. I must add though…at least your wife was speaking to someone who spoke ENGLISH as a native language!!! It is far more frustrating to try to figure these problems out when you have to try to figure out what language(s) are being spoken at you first!!!

  37. I cringed when I read this. Mainly because I tend to lose my patience when someone seeks my help with technical-computer-stuff whilst very quickly showing they have no interest or desire to even understand the basics. I’m not that tech savvy, but I sure as heck learned when I got my first pc – enough to help myself.

    I guess what I’m saying is I don’t have a lot of respect when someone clearly just wants to be spoonfed and not even learn from the feeding. (Not saying MDW did that….just sayin this is why I couldn’t fathom being a computer tech helpdesk person thingamajig)

  38. My mother bought herself a car like my sister’s because she liked my sister’s car. Her car, unfortunately, was a different year model and THEY MOVED THE BUTTONS! Her solution? Give the new car to my sister and take my sister’s car. Maybe you should just bring the convertible back from the coast.

  39. Hope you don’t mind Peter, but seeing as your so good with “New Cars”, I’ve given your phone number to my sister.
    Don’t worry, told her not to call till after she has had all her medication…………………

  40. I’m sorry…but I have much empathy for MDW right now. ( I love to drive, but I never get under the hood. ditto computer.)

  41. http://dpt.thewebsiteisdown.com/

    Crank up the volume, ignore the language (it is not family friendly) and prepare to crack up.

    Along the lines of your rant… watch the video!!



  42. hahahahahahahaha

    you know i feel her pain


  43. hmm…this sounds just like my husband and myself…only I hand him the laptop, smile sweetly, he fixes it and hands it back to me….it works very well!!

  44. Forgive me for stating the OBVIOUS, but when a post has been up for SIX DAYS, and has only had one new comment in THREE…IT IS TIME FOR A NEW POST!!!!! This was a great one, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading it more than once….but now it is time for some new WT!!!! Stop plurking and write something for us!!!

  45. Obviously you like to see us beg for new posts, eh?

    Get on with it already. Unless you’re busy groveling for YDW forgiveness.

  46. Hope you guys are communicating again 🙂

    Mal 🙂

  47. OK…because I know how much you love awards…not…and the fact that I’m not anywhere on your sidebar, once again, I have bestowed something upon you, and you even have permission to deface it with Photoshop…as if you needed permission.

  48. Hey WT. You can finally update your link to me. (Which you have listed as Amanda H, but I have a new identity now!) All I need to do now is remember how to write.

  49. So the computer was like Michael Knight’s car Kitt? next you’ll tell me a tap is a faucet.

  50. Damn, you’re cranky. Cranky, mean, and nasty.

    Too bad you’re such a teddy bear.

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