Warning: This is a very long, very vulgar rant. But realistically, what are Friday afternoons for, right?
At the very end of 2015, the internet “went down” in my apartment. It stayed down for about three weeks, which, in 2015 terms, is approximately infinity, or however old Betty White is – the bigger number of the two.
Also consider that I’m a writer and editor exclusively for online publications, so at least 90% of my job requires an internet connection. That’s like replacing a cop’s gun with a Frisbee, or telling a pervert he has to drive a sports car; sure they can still kind of do their jobs, but when it really matters, they’ll end up being pretty useless.
Pardon My French Connection
Above, I used quotation marks around “went down” because the situation was a bit more complicated than your average dead signal, busted router or suspended service. I’m pretty tech-savvy and normally I can figure this stuff out on my own, but I was experiencing an issue I had never before seen: while it could connect directly via Ethernet cable, my laptop was the only device that could not even see my own wireless network, even though every other device in the world could both discover it and connect to it – and my laptop could easily discover and connect to any other wireless network.
And here’s a snag: the laptop could discover and connect to any other wireless network as long as it had never been previously “forgotten”. In other words, if I had ever told my Windows 10 wireless utility to “forget” a network, not only was that network forgotten, but like Steven Avery’s underwear, it appeared to have been banished for the rest of time.
I tried a ton of stuff; I used the built-in utility repair commands, I reset the router, I double-checked the network security settings, I created a new guest network, I tried to “manually connect to a wireless network”, I uninstalled and reinstalled the wireless driver (with an upgrade), I reverted the OS to a date preceding the outage, and I even went into the command prompt and manually reset the IP address. I had lost several hours of work, yelled the phrase “WHAT IN SWEET FUCKING FUCK” about thirty times to nobody, and still, I had made zero progress.
Since I had never had a problem like this prior to upgrading my OS at the beginning of December, I suspected it was a Windows 10 issue. So I called Windows support.
Walking on Broken Glass
Before that day, I thought feeding racoons, dropping out of high school and taking dick pics in The Arctic were bad ideas. I was wrong. Those are all things they should encourage on Dora the Explorer compared to calling the inbreds at Windows support for anything other than assisted suicide.
At first, I was pleasantly surprised that an agent – sorry, I mean, “fuckwit” – was able to take my call within two minutes. Within another two minutes, however, I had transitioned entirely from “pleasantly surprised” to “addicted to drugs”. It all started with the first question:
“What seems to be the problem?”
As requested, I explained the problem thoroughly and included details on what measures I had already taken in trying to resolve the issue on my own. Based on some quick math, I estimate that they absorbed about 4% of what came out of my mouth.
Now, at first, I thought that perhaps I was dealing with a language or culture barrier – based on their accent, I initially suspected that the fuckwit was from New Delhi or Mumbai. After several minutes though, I realized it was more likely that they were born on that worthless dwarf-planet we’re embarrassed to have in our fucking solar system because it’s just a big dumb brick of ice. There’s a “P” in it, right? “P”-something? Anyway, she was from there.
As it turned out, geography wasn’t the issue because not only was she unfamiliar with earth in general, but I’d be shocked if she had ever seen a computer or even knew what “Windows” was. I swear, they put my phone call in a time machine and connected me to a syphilitic cobbler in 1520.
This is how the conversation went once we got the insufferable preamble out of the way:
Fuckwit: Can you connect to the network with another device?
Me: Yes. As I mentioned at the very beginning, every device except my laptop can see the network and connect to it.
Fuckwit: <Repeats exactly what I said back to me, which isn’t annoying AT ALL> Ok. So your laptop is unable to connect to the internet at all?
Me: No, my laptop is able to connect to the internet very effectively – just not with my network. Again, it can’t even see my network, and I believe it’s because I told the wireless utility to “forget” the network at some point.
Fuckwit: <Repeats about half of what I said back to me, which surprisingly is even MORE ANNOYING than nailing it verbatim> Ok. Have you tried restarting your router?
Me: Yes, six times. Seriously.
Fuckwit: Six times. Ok. Can you please hold?
She watches the Lord of the Rings trilogy. She returns.
Fuckwit: Hello, sir?
Fuckwit: Thank you very much for your patience. May I ask you sir, can you please open up your Wi-Fi Settings.
Me: Sure. It’s open.
Fuckwit: Ok, can you please turn off your Wi-Fi.
Me: Holy shit, I’ve done this a billion times. But ok, it’s off. Shall I turn it on again?
Fuckwit: Ok, you have turned off your Wi-Fi?
Me: Wha-……..yes. It’s off.
Fuckwit: Ok, now please turn it back on.
Me: (Long pause for breath and cocaine) Ok. It’s back on.
Fuckwit: And can you see your network?
Fuckwit: Ok, hold please.
Me: Oh my God.
She helps a friend move. She returns.
Fuckwit: Hello, sir?
Fuckwit: Thank you very much for your patience. May I ask you sir, can you please go into your Device Manager.
Me: Wow. Ya, I can. This sounds like we might be finally on to something. Ok, I’m in the device manager.
Fuckwit: Ok, sir – are you in your device manager?
Me: You know, if I ever met you, I’d have to ki-….never mind. Yes, I’m in my Device Manager.
Fuckwit: Ok, please look under the section called “Network Adapters” and tell me if you see anything.
Me: I do, there are two adapters listed.
Fuckwit: Ok, you see two adapters. Are either of them in red or disabled?
Fuckwit: No. Ok. Can you please hold sir?
Me: I never thought you’d ask. I’d love to.
My pubic hair turns grey. She returns.
Fuckwit: Ok, sir. Thank you for your patience. I’m afraid that that is all I am able to help you with. From here, for us to be able to resolve the issue, I would need to connect you with our advanced support team (or whatever she called it), and that would require you to pay a fee. Would you like me to connect you with them?
Me: I’d rather share a needle with Charlie Sheen.
Fuckwit: You need a charred litchi?
Ok, that last part about Charlie Sheen didn’t happen but it might as well have. After confirming her inability to provide any form of valuable assistance, I got off the phone very quickly and decided that the next time I came across what seemed like a Microsoft issue, instead of calling Microsoft support, I would save myself the confusion and actually just phone a dead person.
I still needed to fix the issue, so I decided on another route: Geek Squad. Their branding is exceptional, they’re affiliated with a reputable mega-chain (Best Buy), they have their own vans, and after my experience with the extraterrestrial Muppet, I wanted to talk to an actual “Geek”.
I called Geek Squad and once again I was able to connect with an agent very quickly. After describing the issue to him, he expressed confidence that they could help. I reminded him that I wasn’t trying to get a blow job at prom, so I certainly hoped that a self-proclaimed “Geek Squad” could provide some assistance under the given circumstances.
I was then instructed to fill out a form, approve a service agreement, submit my credit card information, download and install a desktop chat & remote access application, run the application, and then wait in the application for a real support to rep to join me since the guy with whom I had been speaking was in fact a phone-floozy who just buttered people up, took their money, and then showed them to their seat – the Hooters hostess of the IT world.
That all took about twelve minutes.
Then I waited another several minutes for my turn in the service queue. Finally some guy named Mark Anthony (I’m not funny enough to make that up) entered the chat and addresses me:
Mark Anthony: Hello, Ben. I understand you’re having issues connecting to Wi-Fi?
Which, at that point, was sort of like going up to a woman in labor and saying, “Awwwww, is something tickling your va-jay-jay??”
So in their shitty little ICQ clone, I once again explain the issue in detail (this time having to type it out), and again, like an idiot, I include several key steps I have already taken in an attempt to resolve the problems on my own. The overrated-singer-turned-horrible-actor-turned-illiterate-support-geek then proceeds to take control of my laptop through a remote session, and spends about 15 minutes going through everything I told him I had already tried, plus several things he would have known I had tried, had he spent just 30 seconds asking a few mindful background questions.
Keep in mind, it’s a remote session on my screen and I need to be available to respond to his instant messages, so I’m forced to watch him the entire time he’s retracing all my steps. It was like someone spliced Groundhog Day with Hackers and The Poltergeist, converted it into a low-budget instructional YouTube video, and then had it hosted by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.
As far as I know, this was my first aneurysm.
I took mouse control back from his dick-smirched palms and messaged him to reiterate that I had tried everything he just tried, and as a result, my suspicion was that a Windows 10 problem was behind the trouble – I wasn’t sure, but perhaps something needed to be done at the OS level, be it a bug fix, some super-deep config, an OS refresh, or whatever.
He responded telling me that he thought that was a good idea. I repeat: the Geek Squad “professional”, after unconscionably stripping away 15 good minutes of my life, told me that my idea was a good one.
To exactly which idea was he referring? A “Reset” of my PC.
Now, I had an idea of what that entailed, but I had never actually gone through with one myself, so I didn’t know exactly what happens during/after a “Reset”…
Mark Anthony: I recommend backing up your files. Just as a precaution.
Me: Ok, I can do that. Will I have to reinstall some of my applications?
Mark Anthony: Yes. You will need to reinstall some applications.
“Fine,” I thought. “I asked if I’d have to reinstall some applications, he responded concisely, I don’t mind reinstalling a few apps, and realistically it has been a few months since I backed up my files, so I should probably do that anyway. I’ve already lost my morning to this bullshit, what’s another 30 minutes if it fixes the problem?”
So I back up my files. That takes just over 20 minutes. I tell him I’m done and he once again takes over the reins. He kicks off the Restart process, and after executing the first command, a screen pops up asking me to approve the pending procedure given the expectation that “The following applications will need to be reinstalled”:
FUCKING ALL OF THEM
Not just the obscure stuff or the most recently installed stuff, like SnagIt, Audacity and Where Are They Now? (Ex-Girlfriend GPS Edition). Everything, from Skype, to Chrome to all of Microsoft Office.
So when Mark Anthony got me to spend almost half an hour backing up all my files and then answered, “Yes” to my inquiry regarding whether or not I would have to reinstall some of my applications, what he really meant to write was, “Yes, because I’m going to convert your laptop from a computing device into a fucking panini grill.”
There was zero chance I was going to blow an entire day of work rebuilding my laptop over a Wi-Fi issue, and I was still convinced that somebody out there could come up with a better solution. I put a halt to the Restart and told the pseudo-Geek that I was going to be requesting a refund.
Mark Anthony: Actually…hold on.
Mark Anthony: There’s something I just thought of that I haven’t tried yet.
Me: Becoming a stripper?
Mark Anthony: Before you go, let me try one last thing.
So I watch as he opens the command prompt and tries the one remaining command that, out of pure old fashioned memory lapse, I had yet to attempt…
And it works.
I shit you not: opening the oldest app in the book, typing seventeen characters (plus a space), and pressing enter. Problem solved.
I had never wanted to kiss everyone and kill everyone all at the same time before. Personal shame aside, I was ecstatic that the issue had been resolved. More overwhelming than my joy, however, was my total shock; I could not believe that every tech support employee on the planet didn’t have “The 10 Things to Try When Someone Can’t See a Wireless Network” – with ‘Flush DNS’ at number 3 – stapled to their cubicle cork-board, right between a Yoda quote and the most recent draft of their suicide letter.
Especially the support staff of two of the more recognizable tech names in North America? My mind was blown.
Anyway, it was over and although I had lost half a day of work, suffered a mild stroke, and signed four petitions to accelerate global warming, ultimately, I am grateful. Had it not been for the preposterous, doofus-laden process and support I received that day, I may have otherwise recovered my internet access in a timely manner, but I certainly would not have had as much fun complaining about how it happened…to thousands of my favorite people.
So, to Microsoft Support and Geek Squad, I say: “Thank You”. You sure as fuck lost, but you will certainly not be forgotten.
Ben is a Toronto-based writer and public speaker with more than a soft spot for 90s hip hop. He has spent over 10 years in business & tech, more than 20 in the arts, and an entire lifetime in a state of perpetual judgment (highly recommended). He is the author of the blogs This Is Your Brain on Dating and Love Gone Cray and can be found pontificating on Thought Catalog, Notable.ca, The Toronto Standard, Offline Magazine, Gasm.org and Huffington Post.
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