Date: Sat, 12 Apr 1997 06:03:30 -0400 (EDT)
From: Olin Shivers 
To: sunday-lunch-list
Subject: Losing $35

No lunch on Sunday, I am afraid.

Having just concluded a continuous 14-hour conversation with
technical support people at Microsoft, my weekend plans have been
altered to simply sleep.

The original topic was, "Why am I able to use my floppy drive in
DOS, but not in Windows on the (brand new) Pentium box Hillary
just bought, with the (brand new) Win95 installation?" Microsoft
promised to resolve the issue, or refund my up-front consultation
fee. Thirty-five bucks. (You're way ahead of me, I'm sure.) Did I
mention this box had plug 'n play hardware and BIOS?  Takes care
of installation and configuration *automatically*.

Fourteen hours later, however, the issues had become much deeper
and more richly textured. Hillary, who Just Doesn't Get It,
wanted to break off the phone call and go return the system
around hour five. And hour ten. I told her to shut the fuck up
and go home. Things had gotten beyond "fixing" the "computer."

I did get to know three technical support staff rather well; I
was certainly impressed by their perseverance and
courteousness. They were a little frightened by my focus, I think
-- senior technical consultant #3 kept checking the logs he'd
gotten from junior technical consultants #1 and #2, and asking me
if I'd really been having a continuous conversation since 2
pm. He also kept getting concerned that I was running up a
painful phone bill. I told him it was OK, not to worry about
it. I didn't tell him I'd managed to get in on an 800 number
(which entitles me to chalk up the $35 I paid them as a "pyrrhic
failure," I guess).

In the end, Win95 had been reinstalled 3 times, from
scratch. Individual drivers had been downloaded off the net and
installed dozens of times. The system had been rebooted on
average once every 3 minutes, I would estimate, for well over
half a day. At some point, each of my floppy, cd rom, serial
ports, modem, and display had all worked. For one golden moment,
they had all worked. But upon the next reboot, it all vanished, a
fleeting, evanescent moment of forever-after unattainable satori.

Needless to say, neither the system nor the floppy drive now
work.  But I certainly learned a very valuable lesson from the
experience, and one would have to be mean-spirited and churlish
not to consider the $35 fee that currently remains on my credit
card anything but a welcome reminder of such hard-earned
wisdom. A cash mnemonic, as it were.

My current plans, beyond abandoning my friends for the weekend,
center around going to Lechemere, and returning their Pentium
system (which was really cheap, by the way -- it's truly
remarkable what a bargain I got on the thing) by the simple
expedient of hurling the box from the sun-roof of my car through
some convenient plate-glass window, en passant.

I might add that when the revolution comes, and the mob at the
factory gates drags Bill Gates screaming from behind the wheel of
his Porsche 959, I, for one, will not be there to urge clemency.

Good night.