A Half Phone Call

A Half Phone Call

Author Josh Fickes

“Hello, welcome to our IT hotline.  My name is Sam, how may I help you?”

“Your computer won’t turn on?  Okay, wait just a moment while I get my list of questions ready, please.”

...

“Sorry, my desk was kind of a mess, but I have the list now.  Yes, I do know how long it wa—Oof!  Alright, that was a lot longer than I thought, sorry for that.  Okay, so, question one: is your computer plugged in?”

“Hey, look, do you want help or not?  We’ve got to go through dumb stuff like this just in case — No, I was not calling you dumb!  Just, can you confirm that your computer is plugged in so we can move on?”

“Okay, thanks.  Question two: did you try turning it off and on again?”

“Yeah, that is a good point.  Sorry, this is more of a general list, I should make a note of that.  Let’s see here… Do… not… ask… caller… to… restart… computer… if… it… doesn’t… turn… on… to… begin… with.  Okay, note made.  Now then, question three: is your computer’s battery damaged?”

“Alright, question four: does your computer have any noticeable physical damages, such as dents, cracks, bullet holes, or loose wiring?”

“Are you sure?”

“Okay, question five, then.  Actually — sorry, just wondering real quick — was this the first IT service you called?  Because if you called any others that would probably save a lot of time since this list I’m using was the first result when I looked up how to fix a computer.”

“I prefer to think of it as standing on the shoulders of giants.”

“Excuse me, but I don’t tell you how to do your job, do I?  Now can you please list off any questions that the other eight places asked you?”

“Uh huh, that’s question five.  Yup, got that one too.  Ooh, good idea; I should write that one down later.  Mmm hmm.  Yeah.  Okay, well, I don’t have any questions left on my list anymore, but I have a few other ideas for how we can get your computer working.  First, could you just verbally acknowledge that anything that goes wrong is not the fault of this company as a whole and does not necessarily reflect its views or opinions?”

“I will take that as a yes.  Okay, so my first idea: have you ever yelled at your computer, called it a piece of junk, anything like that?”

“Just go with me here, please.”

“Okay, so I’m thinking maybe that’s the problem.  Kind of like how I want to stop helping you when you criticize me, your computer is upset that you don’t properly express your appreciation of it, so what I’ll need you to do is come up with a formal apology for your computer, written in verse, and read it aloud to it.”

“Yes, I’m serious.  Look, I get that poetry can be a bit of a personal thing that comes from the heart, and I know it’s hard to share artwork with others, but I’m really going to need you to try.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll wait.”

...

“Okay, you’re ready?  All right, use your best reading voice, and go!”

“Oh, sorry to interrupt your first line, I was just thinking maybe this would go well with some atmospheric music.  Let me just get my guitar out from under my desk.  Okay, what key are we in?”

“Oh, sorry, just have to tune this real quick.  Have you heard of those apps where you tune an instrument in front of it, and it senses the pitch and helps you get everything sounding right?  They’re really useful!”

“Ha, like you expect me to believe anyone with a job over the phone doesn’t bring their guitar with them to work every day.  It’s pretty standard procedure, really.  Okay, there we go, guitar’s ready.  From the top now!  And a one, and a two, and a one two three.”

“Wow, that poem was a bit shorter than I expected, but —”

“No, no, please, let me finish.  It was short, but it was incredibly heartfelt!  And the way you used oceanic imagery in the first and last lines was really exceptional; it tied the entire piece together in a truly masterful way!  That was great!”

“Don’t mention it.  You know you should really be a professional poet.”

“You are?  Well, I just might have to look up some of your work once we’re done here!  Oh, that reminds me, is your computer working at all now?”

“Hm, darn it.  I really thought it would work after all of that fantastic—”

“What?  You heard one of the fans in the computer spinning briefly?  Okay, I think we’re making progress.”

“Hm, yes, I think I do have another plan.  Do you have any up-dog with you by chance?”

“Not much, how about you?”

“Oh, come on, that was a good one!  I’m sorry, I actually do need some time to think.  Let me go get a drink of water real quick.”

...

“Ah, alright, I’m back!  Always good to stay hydrated.  Now, I know I said I was going to think of a plan, but did you happen come up with anything while I was gone?”

“Yeah, I know that it’s my job to help you, and I’m doing the best I can, but we’ll have a better shot at this if we can work together.”

“Well, the one idea I came up with while getting my drink is maybe we could try magic, like casting a spell.  Yeah, okay, laugh if you want, but who’s the professional here?”

“Yes, I’m serious.”

“I mean, I’ve dabbled in some arcana and a few little charms and stuff, but nothing like that.”

“Okay, so I don’t know any spells strictly relating to turning on electronics, though I have to admit I’m not sure why the fields of magic and electronics shy away from each other so much; I feel like there could be a lot of really useful—”

“Right, sorry, thanks.  Anyway, I don’t know a spell to turn on a computer, but maybe we could try summoning some electricity, but we summon it inside of the computer.  Like, we just use a basic summoning circle, but we put your computer in the center of it.  I think it’ll work.”

“Yes, I’m certain.  How else do you explain slugs and snails?”

“Okay, so list off whatever you have around you.  We’re going to need something to draw with, and something relating to electricity, like maybe a battery or something.”

“Yeah, that’ll work.  And do you have some paper?”

“Okay, so use the pen to draw a big circle — try to make it as even as you can — and then put your pen at the top of the circle and draw a diagonal line down to left, then horizontally across, then down and to the left again, then up and to the right, but at a steeper angle, then up and—”

“No, I won’t repeat myself, it’s just as boring for me as it is for you.  Up and to the left, just steeper than horizontal, stop just before you reach the first line, then make one last line back to where you started.”

“Eh, sounds close enough.  Okay, now just cut the wires into little pieces and sprinkle them around the edge of the circle.  Now chant something that sounds mysterious.”

“No, the words actually don’t matter; saying a chant is just for fun.  Sometimes the summoning takes a while, so you have to keep yourself entertained.”

“Column of blinding light, you say… Yeah, that probably means it’s working.”

“Great!  Glad to hear that it finally turned on!  If you could just answer some brief quality review questions, that would be—”

“What?”

“I’m sorry, I had no idea it would get so aggressive!  Did you mess up the symbol?”

“What was that loud crash?”

“I — I don’t know!  Find some cover!”

“Can you describe what’s going on as clearly as you can?  I need whatever information you can give me.”

“Mmm hmm, tentacles made of wires… Electric bolts… Wild thrashing… Well, I think I can safely confirm that your computer is indeed sentient, evil, and suffering intense bloodlust.  Now, if you could just answer some quick review questions, on a scale of one to five, how would you—”

“Oh, it’s not normally like this?  I see.  Well, how’s the overturned table holding up?”

“It probably can’t unplug itself, so try running around a corner and getting some distance from it.  Oh, that was loud!  Okay, okay, back behind the table, back behind the table!”

“I don’t know!”

“Well, that seems a bit pessimistic, I have to say.”

“Alright, alright, just try to stay calm and ignore your problems as long as you can; that’s what I’ve been doing for a while now.”

“Yeah, okay, that wasn’t very long.  Sorry to hear it picked up your table.  Try running away in a serpentine motion, maybe?”

“Well, that’s quite brave of you.  Wait, do you still have that rubber-handled meat cleaver you mentioned earlier?”

“Great!  Now, this will sound crazy, but try rushing it and cutting its main power cord.  Cutting wires that are plugged in is very dangerous, and I sincerely hope no one ever tries it on their own, because it is an incredibly stupid idea, and I take no responsibility if anyone is dumb enough to do it, because they will definitely get hurt.”

“Here, tell me your email address, and I’ll send a message.  That might be able to distract your computer long enough for you to attack.”

“How do you spell that?”

“Okay, typing now.  Hold on.”

“I’m going as fast as I can!”

“Okay, I’m going to send it in three, two, one, now!  Go go go go go!”

“Did it work?  Is it over?”

“Yes!  Ha ha!  We did it!  Wow, amazing job, that was incredible!”

“Oh, well thank you!”

“Oh, yeah, um, if I had to say, then I suppose it is my professional opinion that your computer might be beyond repair at this point; you might want to consider buying a newer model at this point.”

“Oh, no problem.  Thank you for calling, and have a nice day!”

“Oh, darn it.  I forgot to to ask them the quality review questions.”

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