Tech Support

Cell phones invaded everyone’s life. Eventually that included me. It’s a major personal failure as far as I’m concerned. Eventually my old dumb phone it was replaced by a “smart” phone (i.e. a revolting abomination of bloated software and marketing hype). Where I formerly had ten buttons and an antenna now I have a GPS tracker in my pocket that reports to the NSA. This is progress?

Like every smart phone everywhere, mine glitched. Why? Because it’s a shitty phone that’s why! It’s also a shitty GPS and a shitty web surfer and a shitty camera and so on. Apparently there are people who use them to watch TV. As far as I’m concerned anyone who’ll watch video on a 2″ screen needs to be hit upside the head with a damn book.

Alas there’s no fighting it. We as a society traded good phones for a blob of shitty compromises that are the front end for a monthly payment and I’m going along for the ride. Here’s how it went down:

Me: [Texting to Mrs. Curmudgeon] “I’m going to be home late. It has been a long day. I had to slay a dragon, the truck got death wobble, Ross Perot sexually propositioned me, and I think the squirrels have unionised. Don’t hold dinner.” [Send]

Phone: “Unfortunately Google search has stopped working.”

Me: [Send]

Phone: “Unfortunately Google search has stopped working.”

Me: [Send][Send][Send][Send][Send]

Phone: “Unfortunately Google search has stopped working.”

Me: [Screaming at the phone.] “Did I ask for Google to search? No I did not! Enough with the proctology! Sent the damn message!”

Phone: “Unfortunately Google search has stopped working.”

Other guy at gas pumps: “Let me guess; Verizon?”

Me: “Tracfone.”

Phone: “Unfortunately Google search has stopped working.”

Other guy at gas pumps: “They all suck.”

Me: “Screw this. I’ll just use a pay phone.”

Other guy at gas pumps: “Ha ha ha… and which way will you drive to get to 1980?”

Phone: “Unfortunately Google search has stopped working.”

After a hearty wave to the other guy at the pumps I drove off. My phone alerted me once every 30 seconds that Google was screwing the pooch. Finally I pulled over, ripped off the back cover, yanked the battery, and threw it all on the dash. I was at peace.

The next day I was sipping coffee when an e-mail arrived.

Client: “Where the heck are you?”

Me: “Here.”

Client: “Why haven’t you answered the phone?”

I glanced at the phone. It was bolted to the wall. Yes, I have a landline that’s literally wall mounted. (I find the kids are a lot better at replacing the handset when it’s on a cord.) I looked at the phone. Then I looked at the dog. The dog looked at me. We were both confused.

Me: “Because it didn’t ring?”

Client: “Why aren’t you answering now?”

Sighing, I picked up my phone and called him. Eventually we got to the root of the matter. He has the unfortunate situation of working with a fellow who will Skype, e-mail, chat, talk on a landline, use semaphore, key the mic on a HAM, and probably would be happy with carrier pigeons but will break a cell phone into pieces when it pisses him off. I have the situation of working with someone who is literally grossed out by a landline. Ironically he doesn’t actually know which numbers go to landlines and which go to cell phones but he really really really hates the idea of landlines. I suppose I can live with that. I feel the same way about yoga.

So I was forced to reassemble the cell phone.

Phone: “Unfortunately Google search has stopped working.”


Soon I was on hold with Tracfone tech support. I understand their business model. Virtually no support and dirt cheap. But I do expect a pulse and an actual human being once or twice a decade. After a few rounds I was getting frustrated:

Support Drone: “OK turn the phone off.”

Me: “It was off all night, with the battery removed, under the full moon.”

Support Drone: “So turning the phone off didn’t help. Can you turn it off and remove the battery.”

Me: “It is off. I have removed the battery. I am holding the battery in my left hand and the phone in my right. I think the squirrels are spying on me.”

Support Drone: “Put the battery in and restart. What does the phone say.”

Phone: “Unfortunately Google search has stopped working.”

Me: “It says ‘Unfortunately Google search has stopped working’. My cat’s breath smells like catfood.”

Support Drone: “Then the problem is with Google. You’ll have to call Google.”

Me: [Suddenly serious] “You want me to call Google? You think Google is down? Like everywhere? You mean what you just said?”

Support Drone: “Yes you’ll have to call Google.”

Me: “You’re saying you lack the capacity to fix this problem?”

Support Drone: “We’ve been getting lots of reports. It’s Google.”

Me: “You cannot fix this problem?”

Support Drone: “It’s Google. I’m sure they’re working on it. Just wait a few hours.”

Me: “Go ahead and say it. Say ‘I can’t fix this problem’.”

sam kinison in back to school

If you can’t fix the phone say ‘I can’t fix the phone’. Say it! Say it!

Support Drone: “It’s Google. It’ll be working by the end of the day for sure.”

Me: “I will hang up and go away if you say ‘I can’t fix this problem’.”

Support Drone: “. . .”

Me: “Your silence speaks wonders. Please, just to make the world reality based say ‘I can’t fix this problem’.”

Support Drone: “It’s Google.”

I hung up.

I left the phone in pieces a few more days. Then, while at a coffee shop I reassembled it.

Phone: “Unfortunately Google search has stopped working.”

The internet didn’t help. I started clicking through menus. My phone is set to have damn near everything off. There must be something that I’d missed. Some place where NSA’s tendrils are crawling up my ass. Where was it?

I deleted some stuff. Then deleted more. The I uninstalled some shit. I found stuff I can’t remember installing and I can’t imagine I’d even need. (A magazine player? Really? Who the hell wants that?) Eventually I found Google search. One click and BAM… everything was fixed.

I was estatic! I starting shouting at the phone in my best Sam Kinison voice. “I fixed you! I fixed you! I’m the boss you’re a damn phone. I rule! Tracfone tech support is all whiny little bitches! They can’t fix shit! But I can! Say it! SAY IT!”

Then I realized I was in a coffee shop. Embarrassing.

Oh well. The phone works. For now.


P.S. Here’s the whole speech… it’s a miracle of the big screen and yes I recited most of it in a coffee shop.

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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11 Responses to Tech Support

  1. Albert says:

    This is why I don’t pay for internet on my phone.

  2. guffaw1952 says:

    Sadly, it appears cellular telephones resemble firearms in this regard. One gets what one pays for.
    PLUS, of course, the need for decent reception and tech support!

    Welcome to the new techie world!


    • I dunno’. Seems like I have friends that drop an assload of money on the newest gadget with multi-year commitments and they still have “glitches” just as often, if not more.

      • guffaw1952 says:

        Perhaps. Just like Internet access. We’re still in the Stone Age with this technology, akin to crystal radio and tube transmitters.
        And geeks and gov’t hold the reins.

  3. This guy made his own cell phone. I’m impressed!

    I looked into it and decided to wimp out. It seems like it’s a bit more work than I want to expend; at least for now. (Whether you’re growing tomatoes or hacking together cell phones, making your own is always harder than just blowing cash.) That’s OK. It makes me happy just to know it can be done and someone did it.

    Click there at :,26645.html

  4. Tennessee Budd says:

    AC (I think only Joel is allowed to call you “Mudge”), I am in your debt. I am ashamed to say that I had weakened. I was almost to the point of giving in & turning in my flip-phone for a “smart” phone–there’s a misnomer if ever I saw one.
    After reading this, I will serenely continue with a cellular telephone that does not browse, does not email, doesn’t do any damned thing except send & receive calls. Should we ever meet, I owe you a high-quality beer, or a good bourbon of your choice.

    • 1. Joel can call me whatever the hell he wants. Until I change my mind, anyone who lives off grid in the desert gets a pass. Also what the hell can I do to stop him. 🙂 I think someone named my cat Lurch and it seems appropriate for that particular cat.

      2. You made the right call! Don’t, under any circumstances, give up a non GPS phone that still works. When people give you shit tell them it’s a “classic phone” just like a car might be a classic car. You might start a movement? Won’t be long before hipsters are talking through their goatee into brick phones. (Incidentally I looked into buying a brick phone but they ‘aint cheap!

      3. I prefer 1792. That stuff is so smooth it’ll sand the edges off anything. You should try it.

  5. Old 1811 says:

    I feel your pain. When my old flip phone died last year, I was gonna replace it with another flip phone, but I had to go with a smart phone because I was planning a work trip to somewhere where I would have no computer access and still need email. I’ve never used it for anything that the old flip phone couldn’t do (the work trip got cancelled), but it’s bigger, more awkward, harder to carry around, harder to use, almost useless in an emergency (the old flip phone had a special 911 button; to call 911 on this piece of shit I have to swipe it to unlock it, hit the phone icon, and dial the number), and more expensive. My wife loves her smart phone and calls me a Luddite. And she’s right.

  6. Judy says:

    Ha! I have you all beat in the Luddite category for cell phones. I have a Samsung ten button Tracfone (don’t know the model #). I haven’t bothered to learn how to send text-messages or get into the voice mail. Drives the family crazy. If Tracfone ever stops supporting this phone I will go cell phone-less rather than use the abomination everybody else is using. I just need a phone in my purse for emergencies. I got over the electronic tether when I retired and dumped the radio.

  7. Paul Bonneau says:

    My old flip-fone was getting very hard to understand, speaker crapping out or something. So wife got me the cheapest, smallest Verizon phone (I didn’t want the latest biggest screen because I don’t intend to spend hours every day looking at it). It’s not too bad other than the NSA tracking and whatnot. I am going to load a spreadsheet so I can run my ballistics program, that will be nice. And there are some nice apps out there for recording when cops are beating you up and sending the video stream to the cloud so when their dash cams somehow stop working you still have a recording of the event.

    Anyway I am still on the fence. I won’t bring it to the Revolution though.

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