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