Calling for Help

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Calling for Help

Lisa threw herself inside the door and hurled her purse towards the floor.  Struggling to shrug off her jacket while jiggling her keys loose from the lock, the eagerness continued to build inside of her.  The keys finally came unstuck from the door after protesting noisily.  She flipped the lights on inside and scurried towards her computer as she kicked her pumps off her feet.  A short distance from her desk Lisa almost tripped and careened into the desk, but she hopped at the last moment and freed her foot from the shoe that tried to do her in.  She felt the familiar resistance from the computer’s power button as she pressed it soundly with her thumb.  The monitor started to come to life and she hurried towards the bedroom.

Pulling off her dress slacks and long-sleeved blouse, Lisa went to the drier where she had left her favorite sweatpants and grey tank top.  Despite her rush, she still took the time to stop and smell the fragrant aroma that adorned her freshly laundered top.  She had liked that smell as a child and found the extra two dollars that the laundry brand charged was worth the guaranteed trip down nostalgia lane.  She pulled on her sweatpants and let the tank top fall happily over her head and onto her shoulders.  Feeling the thin socks on her feet run through the soft carpet, she began to hum to herself as she headed for the kitchen.

The tune in her head was a theme song.  But not just any theme song.  All her thoughts were on the show she was just moments away from watching.  Lisa had been waiting all day to catch the newest episode.  Supposedly, if the rumors were to be believed, this was the episode where those two kooks would stop torturing her and become the couple that the show’s writers had been tangoing around for years.  Oh, they had shared their close calls.  He, the bookish librarian, and she, award-winning scientist, had spent four seasons together discovering new secrets of the universe while annoyingly never seeing the obvious connection that every fan yearned for each week.  They had held hands as Charles’ matter-agitator had eaten away at the molecular bond in the ground beneath them; surely they could have admitted they loved one another as they were plummeting to their doom?  Then there was the time when Sylvia’s mentor had turned out to be responsible for the germ-bomb which they had just narrowly kept out of the public water system.  Anyone could see that Charles had wanted to comfort Sylvia with more than just words when she had to face that the man she had looked up to was a person of pure evil.  Why couldn’t those to just get over their bookish sensibilities and embrace each other?

Lisa’s hopes were high.  It was sweeps week, after all.  If the show was hunting for ratings, now would be the perfect time to give the fans what they wanted.  If it didn’t pan out quite right, the writers could still throw in some surprise before the season finale.  But Lisa knew that they couldn’t do that.  If the show gave her all that she was wishing for tonight, she felt assured that the staff would see what a great plotline was in front of them and tread the path of a coupling that was guaranteed from the start.  The characters were Charles Louis and Sylvia Lewis.  Lisa didn’t understand how they had avoided the C.S. Lewis pairing that any idiot could have called out.  Lisa wondered for the umpteenth time if the staff enjoyed the torment they were putting their viewers through.

Lisa left the kitchen with her snack assembled.  The bottle of water was a nice healthy treat, one which was sure to be offset by the bag of Doritos chips that resided under her right arm.  She turned on her television and saw that the computer monitor’s image was now switching over to her living room screen.  Lisa refused to pay for cable and she would not cave and buy a phone that showed videos.  She liked her television to be affordable, but also have a nice presentation.  She was quite happy watching videos online; so long as her cables could transport the image to a nice screen and her surround sound.  Placing the food items on her couch, she happily skipped to the computer.  She ignored the dry clean-only jacket that was crumpled by the door and only half-looked to make sure she had shut the front door all the way.  Her only goal was to logon and start streaming the show.

That was when it happened.  Lisa looked at the bottom right corner of her screen and saw a sight that sent terror coursing through her veins.  The image that should have been two happily little computers beaming at each other was instead replaced with a red “X”.  There was no connection; she was without any internet signal.  Her eyes went wide with horror.  How was she going to watch the show now?  She couldn’t possibly wait for the connection to come back.  She had gone in at six o’clock a.m. to take care of work and now she wanted her reward.  A twelve-hour day was cruel enough.  Now she wanted to watch a nice, fun, cute show where two attractive people smile at each other.  No pithy internet hiccup was going to stop her now.

Lisa hadn’t touched anything externally on the computer, but she checked the cords regardless.  She wondered if she might have somehow tripped on the cords in her hurry to logon.  However, after a quick examination, everything seemed in order.  She ran her mouse over the dastardly icon and right clicked.  She selected “diagnose and repair” from the small menu that popped up.  A bar popped up and a blob of green slid back and forth as the computer was “Identifying the problem”.  Nothing.  No help came.  Lisa grabbed the phone off of the desk and pulled out the top drawer on the right side of the desk.  She found the old internet bill and dialed the number at the top of the paper.

“Thank you for calling Interconnected Internet Services”, a recorded voice said in a calm way that seemed far too rehearsed to Lisa.  “We are currently expecting a high volume of calls.  Please wait and the next available operator will assist you.”  Lisa rolled her eyes and waited for the voice to give her the rest of the bad news.  “You are number seventy-five in line”, the computer said in mechanical and uneven tones.

“UUUUUUuuunnnnnhhh”, Lisa groaned in frustration.  Seventy-fifth in line.  The cue seemed destined to keep her from a relaxing evening.  Assuming each phone call could be answered in one minute, which she knew was rather implausible, Lisa knew she would be on hold for quite a spell.  She looked to her couch.  Ignoring the water bottle, she ruthlessly grabbed at the chips and put it under her arm.  Holding the bag between her elbow and her stomach, she took her hands and pulled the sealed back open.  She took out her frustration on a potato chip and chomped on it with more vigor than was necessary for proper digestion.

Lisa tried to hold the phone between her ear and her shoulder, but the chewing proved too difficult with her neck otherwise indisposed.  She switched to speakerphone and glared at her computer screen.  She took off the “shared monitor” option and watched as the signal returned from its hiatus to television-land back to the screen in front of her.  Lisa typically trolled the internet whenever she was waiting for someone on the phone; it always killed the time a little better.  Double clicking her browser, she remembered what she was on hold for.  Sure enough, the program opened with a blank page and no contact with the outside world.  Lisa did what all frustrated computer operators have done since they were offered the choice; she opened up the games folder.

The first ten minutes were spent on sweeping a gray grid for mines.  She lost track of how many times the countless bombs blew up in her face and forced her to start a new game.  Feeling vexed at how she had lost any discernable talent at the game, if “talent” was possible in such an area, she instead turned to the card games.  She had four different kinds of solitaire on her computer and none of them were doing her any favors.  She clicked and dragged, guessed and hoped, bargained and cajoled.  In the end, she ended up losing every game she played.  This was not her day.

Lisa started hour number two of being on hold with a round of pinball.  The program opened and she was ready to take out her frustration on the “alt” buttons until the pinball paddles knew her suffering and shared her agony.  As the spring behind the bail started to tighten, a voice came over the phone’s speaker.

“Thank you for calling Interconnected Internet Services.  We apologize for any delay and hope that you’ll still find that ISS is right for you.  How may I help you today?”

“Hi, I’m having trouble getting an internet connection.  It was working fine last night, but when I got home this evening…”

“Yes, we’ve been having some trouble with our residential grid”, the operator interrupted.  “I’m going to accessing a file and see if this download will help.”

“Download?”

“Yes”, the man’s voice continued.  “What I can do is access your internet’s grid over my computer here and adjust the settings so everything works out for you.  But I’m going to try something different and see if we can’t get you back to normal.  Okey-dokey?”

“Okay…”, Lisa said while questioning his logic.  “But how am I going to…”

“Now don’t you worry about a thing.  I’ve been fixing this problem all day.  We did a little upgrade and some systems are having a hard time adjusting to it.  You know, people with newer computers don’t have this sort of technical issue.”

“My computer’s been working fine on everything up until this very incident.”

“And I’m glad to hear it”, the man replied with a slight sing-song quality.  “But I’m just gonna fix you up and hopefully this will tide you over until you decide to upgrade a bit.  Now let’s see here.”  Lisa sat with her brow scrunched together as she tried to interpret the man’s typing on the other end of the line.  Even if she had been standing right beside him, she doubted she’d be able to figure out what all his keystrokes meant.  “All righty-roosky”, the voice said.  “I think that should just about do it.”

“What should do what?” Lisa asked.

“What I’ve done her is create a quick setup program.  It’ll use your wireless router to connect a nearby service that we’ve been borrowing for calls like yours and then it’ll use that signal to set up a new signal on our network.  Sound good?”

“Sure, except that I don’t…”

“Great.  I’ve gone ahead and e-mailed that file to the address we have listed on your account.  Is there anything else I can help you with?”  Lisa was about to reply when she was cut off again.  “Whoops, sorry lady.  I got a whole list of calls I gotta get to.  Thanks for choosing Interconnected Internet Services.  You take care now.”

Lisa listened with disbelief as the dial tone rang out over her speaker phone.  She pushed the disconnect button and stared at the computer in front of her.  Lisa had no wireless router.  She had never felt the need for one since she only used the one computer.  Even with the equipment, she wondered how she was supposed to download a file from her e-mail when she couldn’t get online.

Unable to face another hour on the phone, Lisa turned to the desk and picked up the morning newspaper she hadn’t had time to read that morning.  Turning to the Arts section, she found a listing for the night’s episode of her show.  She couldn’t help but laugh at the text on the page.  She cut it out and taped it to the bottom of her computer monitor.

Charles and Sylvia investigate a mysterious series of incidents where people are telepathically attacked by those that have wronged them in the past.

Lisa sat down by the computer desk again.  She pushed redial and didn’t know if she wanted a new operator so that she could actually get her problem fixed, or the previous operator so she could give him a piece of her mind.  Her eyes fell upon the newspaper clipping and she smiled.

If only, Lisa thought to herself.

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About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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