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Virtual Help

The first time I heard the term, "virtual office", I wondered if it had anything to do with virtue. Some weeks later I learnt that a virtual office is where help can be begged when Pollyanna can’t figure out just what the hell is wrong with Pollyanna’s computer.

Last week I had occasion to ring a virtual helper who politely begged me to hold the line. For about four minutes I was entertained by many tunes – most of which were unfamiliar.

I must say the lyrics of the last song tickled my fancy. They went something like, "she’s out of my head, but always I know you’ll be at the show watching and waiting, commiserating..." To pass the time I started to invent my own lyrics – "I’m old, I’m confused, I’ll do as I’m told..."

At that point my helpful elf materialised again with, "Now what’s the problem?" Feeling like a kid with a major arithmetic problem, I attempted to explain my woes. Virtual Elf started issuing staccato instructions. I was to hit Tools, hit something else, hit another thing, and then "supply". At that point Elf lost me.

He patiently repeated the instructions four times but my poor aged brain still couldn’t seem to get the hang of it. Did I detect a slight note of exasperation in my Elf’s erstwhile polite, patient voice?

I apologised for my age and was rewarded with much slower instructions. The "supply" suddenly became "apply". Ah, the penny dropped.

Apart from my inability to keep pace with my young friend, the other major problem was having to type while I held the phone to my ear. Now I’m not a bad touch typist so it is most humbling to have to type single-handedly. I have seen my daughter and even my five-year-old granddaughter balance the receiver most adroitly somewhere between the side of the neck and the shoulder.

But when I’ve tried to copy this timesaving habit I simply succeed in giving myself a pain in the neck. Not only that, the wretched receiver keeps slipping from my neck and shoulder grip and falls to the floor.

After quite a lot more of pressing this and hitting that, my clever little elf succeeded in solving the problem. I thanked him profusely. I suspect he hung up the phone and headed straight to the coffee machine.

When I think of the times in my life I’ve felt like tearing my hair out, I don’t think anything can compete in the frustration stakes as a wayward computer. It gives me great comfort to know when I’m desperate all I need to do is phone the number which is prominently displayed at the top of my computer and my good elf will materialise. When I think of all the folk he must help in his daily routine I reckon he is one of the many unsung heroes.

And speaking of singing, perhaps a selection of more soothing hanging on waiting for help music – dare I suggest "Greensleeves" or some other Mr Whippy number - might help soothe the nerves of the novice computer user before she attempts to hit this and press that.


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