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January 2010
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The incident at 1134 Goose Neck Bay

Sam Hall wasn't happy. His brand new fillibrated hyper-gismo wasn't working. It had worked when he bought it. It had worked for a whole week. One whole stinking week and now it was dead. It was time to call tech support. He knew what would be like - it would be grim. Grim, grim, grim, and he wasn't going to put up with any crap.

He put off calling for a day and then bit the bullet and called tech support. The first thing he got was a recorded message telling him to press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish. After that he descended into a nightmare pit of recorded messages. Press this, press that, select this, select that. Then came a recorded set of instructions walking him through a series of tests that were irrelevant and turned up nothing. Next he was connected to a real live tech rep who spoke something vaguely resembling English.

The tech rep insisted that he walk though the predefined script. There was no way to get the tech rep to answer a real question about the problem. In the end he told Sam that he would check with Engineering and get back to him. Sam knew what that meant - absolutely nothing. He was right. The tech rep never called back.

Sam was not going to give up. He called again. He got a different sequence of recorded messages and a different tech rep. Same result.

Sam didn't give up. He tried again. Nothing. By now he was intrigued. Somewhere in that maze of recorded messages and tech reps reading from prepared scripts there must be a real human being that could actually answer real questions. Somehow he was going to find him.

In his office he put up a big sheet of paper with notes on each phone option and each tech rep script he encountered. There were blind alleys, dead ends, and mindless loops. And then he saw it. In the endless profusion there was one misleadingly labelled option that was almost inevitably overlooked. He was sure; this was it.

It wasn't easy. It was a sequence of 21 separate options including a pass through an almost endless loop. But he did it. He dialed the number. He pressed each button in turn, all 21 of them. And then he waited for a human voice.

And he heard it.

"Good afternoon. Operator No. 6 speaking. Can I help you?"

"Ah, uh, yes. I hope so. I have a fillibrated hyper-gismo I bought a week ago that isn't working. Can you help me?"

"Perhaps. I certainly hope so, but I will need to know more. Please give me the precise details of your problem."

Sam eagerly spilled out all of the details, all of the symptoms he had observed, all of the tests he had made, and all of the useless efforts of the tech reps. He was breathless by the time that he was done. Little did know that as he spoke, two men sped into the night towards 1134 Goose Neck Bay.

"Hmmm. That doesn't seem quite right. Did you try to do a reset?"

"Reset?"

"Yes, a reset."

"But, but, but, there isn't anything in the documentation about a reset and the tech reps didn't say anything about a reset."

"Oh dear, you may well be right. I will have to speak to the support department about that. Alright. Do you know where the battery compartment is and how to change batteries?"

"Yes."

"Okay. Take the batteries out."

"Done."

"Beneath where the batteries were is a piece of plastic that swivels up. Lift it up."

"Got it."

"There should be a red button there. It's the reset button. Is it there?"

"Yes."

"Push it."

"Pushed."

"Good. Now put the plastic cover down and put the batteries back in."

"Done."

"Excellent. See if you can turn it on."

Sam pushed the power button and the hyper-gismo lit up. It wasn't right though. The error light was blinking. Sam told No. 6 what happened.

"Hmmm. I see we are going to have to do some work."

No. 6 walked Sam through a dizzying sequence of operations. Sam didn't even try to think. He just followed instructions and reported results. Finally the hyper-gismo was working.

Sam thanked No. 6 profusely. He thought he was done, but No. 6 caught him up. He explained that it wasn't enough to get it working again; they needed to find out why it failed. Only then would the problem be properly resolved.

There followed an even more rapid sequence of bizarre and incomprehensible tests. Half an hour went by and then another half hour. Finally Sam protested. "When," he asked, "are we going to be done."

"Soon," No. 6 replied, "very soon. The problem will be resolved very soon."

Then, as his words died away, two men wearing black ski masks burst into the room. Each had an AK 47. They blazed away. Sam had barely turned towards them when bullets ripped through him. He died immediately, his blood spilling over the now operational fillibrated hyper-gismo. One of the men stepped over Sam's body and picked up the phone. He spoke.

"No. 6?"

"Yes."

"The problem at 1134 Goose Neck Bay has been resolved."


This page was last updated January 5, 2010.

Richard Harter's World
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