Michelle Martin

An hour well spent

Sunday, August 21, 2016

I spent an hour Sunday afternoon on the phone with Microsoft tech support. Well, 51 minutes if we’re counting.

The thing was, it was really kind of enjoyable. Not what got me to that point — a web of issues having to do with an old Toshiba laptop, Windows 10 and Chrome, getting me to the point that it was impossible to even read my email reliably. I was able to solve most of it on my own, resetting the computer and reinstalling Windows and then going back to reinstall the other apps I use on a regular basis.

The problem came when I tried to reinstall Microsoft Office, using the original product key from when I purchased it in 2010, back when I bought the laptop. I mentioned it was old, didn’t I?

Anyway, the Office website verified that I had a valid product key but then said I couldn’t download because of an error involving missing parts. Parts of what, I’m still not clear. Since I’d been sitting at the desk for going on three hours, when I saw the invitation to contact tech support for help, I did.

Within a minute, I got a phone call from a man called Rakesh, who walked me through the procedure to share control of my computer. I had tried downloading the program through Edge, the web browser that comes built into Windows 10, figuring it might work better since I was trying to download a Microsoft product. He tried using Explorer, the other Microsoft browser, and when that didn’t work, tried Chrome. It worked.

But that left lots of time on the phone while the software downloaded and installed, so we started to chat. He asked where in the United States I was and what the weather was like. I asked where he was, too, and he sounded surprised when I asked where in India and what it was like there.

While we were waiting, he used the screen on my computer to show me pictures of Jaipur, the city where he lives, and pictures of some his favorite places there. He encouraged me, if I had occasion to visit India, to come to Jaipur in Rajasthan and visit Jal Mahal, a palace that has four of its five levels under water, and Nahargarh Fort, from which visitors can view the city of 6 million spread out beneath them.

He stayed on the line until everything was up and running, and when I thanked him for being helpful, he thanked me for being patient and pleasant. “We don’t get many callers like that,” he said.

I understand. By the time most people get to calling tech support, they’re frustrated and tired of the problem and maybe angry. But the person on the other end of the line didn’t create the problem, and a little civility goes a long way.

Rakesh, the tech support guy, and I both ended up enjoying that hour more than we might have. And who knows? If I ever go to India, I’d sure like to see Jaipur in person.