She worked at a big computer company for years, and knows high-tech terminology and all the latest acronyms. She even installed special statistical software to research her PhD thesis. So she is usually good at fixing computer problems.
But in spite of her best efforts to prevent problems — keeping her anti-virus software updated, using a surge protector, and turning the PC off at night — she still has days when the computer gets confused and just won't work.
Since she is a logical and reasonably organized person, my sister-in-law doesn't panic when a problem or issue occurs with her PC. She tries first to close the "hung" program. If that doesn't work she tries to reboot, restore, and sometimes she read the manual and attempt to reset it.
Call tech support
If all that still doesn't solve the problem, she'll call tech support. Calling the tech support line requires a longer trip to the patience well. She gets a writing pad, a pencil, and a cup of tea. Then she dials the number and calmly repeats her system configuration and problem three or four times until the right support person gets on the line to help her diagnose and solve the problem.
It may take a while, and try her patience a bit more, but usually one of the suggestions from tech support will work.
If the problem doesn't "stay" fixed, and comes right back, she'll call tech support again, usually with a lot less patience. At this point she gets one of two standard responses: an experienced (and tactful) tech support person will get on the line and say something like "I'm sorry ma'am but it looks like it is not our product that is causing the problem," and suggest she call someone (anyone) else.
A less-experienced (or less tactful) support person will either transfer her call to a support team on another continent and time zone; put the call on hold until the line gets disconnected; or suggest she turn the system off, hang up, and call back after the shift changes.
This is usually about the time my sister-in-law loses her last bit of patience — and calls me.
Wayman Smith is managing consultant with Wayman and Associates Inc., a technical consulting firm in Decatur. Email him at email@example.com.