Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What We Have Here is Failure to Communicate

I always assumed it would be human stupidity that gave me the fatal stroke. I may have underestimated our computer friends.

On a Monday, not so very long ago, I am trying to complete the relatively simple task of printing a proof of service. The printer informs me that there is a communication error. I'm not sure what this means. I try restarting both computer and printer (my fix for everything) because, seriously, the damn thing worked FIFTEEN SECONDS AGO. No use. The junior clerk at Cafe Legalese is trying to fax something across town. Communication error. I give in, and go to Dell's LiveChat support, eager for step-by-step guidance through this problem.

Bad idea. I'm sure this person doesn't speak the English, because he cannot provide an alternate explanation for terms that must have come out of the operation manual for pros. "Ma'am," he begins, never a good thing, because I fucking hate when people call me "Ma'am" like I'm some 60 year old Southern grandma shellin' butterbeans with a bottle of moonshine. "Ma'am, please provide me with your whatsamajiggysomethingabout IP." Excuse me? How do I find that? If I knew what that was, do you think I'd be talking to YOU? I probably would have just rebuilt this thing if that were the case.

I ask him to please explain this to me like a five year old, because I am not good with computers.
"Begin at the left navigation and select the somethingincomputerspeak." Select the what with the what? Ok, we need to talk. Maybe I wasn't making myself clear. I need you to explain this to me like a five-year-old who only speaks English. "I'm sorry sir, but I really need you to explain this without any computer jargon. I don't understand what you want me to do."

Finally, either his fingers were cramping up from typing the manual verbatim, or he sensed I was about to reach through the computer screen and throttle him, because he finally just seized control of my computer and printer remotely and then informed me that I essentially needed to go to the printer settings menu and type in a little number. I spent my entire morning on this.

It's this sort of shit that makes me want to run screaming from the idea or starting my own practice after law school--what if I can't afford to pay someone to deal with this?

Another day, another computer, another burst blood vessel. I am following the step-by-step instructions on the way to compile electronically and thus save my self approximately 60% of the time I spend on compiling articles. Everything appears to have gone well, until I notice that some of the footnotes have been re-numbered. No big deal, I don't save the changes and start over again with a clean base copy. I check again. Two different footnotes have been deleted and now everything is re-numbered. Great. I mutter obscenities under my breath. Dan senses my blood pressure rising and wisely concentrates on whatever he's reading. I take a deep breath, don't save the changes and try one more time, and it looks like I've gotten it this time. Nope, yet two different footnotes have been changed. My face slams into the desk and I'm about 3 seconds from flinging Computie into the wall. Dan, sensing danger, says he's calling it a night and suggests drinking. I'm sure this is a ploy to avoid being hit by richocheting pieces of Computie, but he says the magic word (alcohol!), so I play along.

The next day, I think I've figured out how to fix this. I reject formatting changes that don't make sense. The only change that cannot be rejected is the deletion of the footnote numbers. At this point, I'm pretty sure I smell burning toast. I make a last ditch effort to have Susan explain this to me. At this point, I'm fully aware that I've spent so much time trying to find the quick way to do this that I may as well have done this by hand in the first instance. Apparently, I have done this exactly the way I was instructed to and not one other person's computer did this. It's settled, Computie has some sort of vendetta against me. At this point, even my stubborn ass has to concede the contest to Computie and buckle down to manually compile this article, knowing full well that I've already wasted enough time to have finished it already. Hours later, driving home at midnight, the speed limit changes from 45 to 35 maybe two miles from my house. I'm coasting down and I get pulled over.

What do you want God, blood?