The melody was familiar, but without words, I couldn't quite put my finger on the tune. It wasn't exactly contemporary ...
Or was it?
"Your call is important to us. Please remain on the line for the next available customer service representative."
The Muzak returned to the spot it had left off.
Of course, that would be a guess. I wasn't exactly concentrating, and I still couldn't place the song. Sounded a little like “Cake by the Ocean.”
The dog was barking.
The boy was bouncing a ball.
In. The. House.
And I was waiting to be dipped in the hot lava that is tech support for troglodytes.
My son kept bouncing the ball.
I cleared my throat and sent eye daggers in his general direction. He stopped bouncing and let the dog out.
"Hello, My name is Ariel ... how can I help you today?"
I stammered for a moment.
"Oh, hi ...uh ... well ...
“I'm just trying to get my game console to connect to our wifi and it's just not. ...”
Wait … that's not right.
"Well it's my son's game console ... which I really know nothing about ... and he's just a kid. Which I know ... he probably shouldn't be playing online games anyway, but he had a birthday, and there he is with his own money and ability to spend it on a game where vegetation and the undead duke it out over the world wide web."
Oh my god, stop! I think to myself. You're just sounding crazy.
"Besides all that, it's just not working, and I'm not even sure why it's not working ... so here I am ...
"That's our dog."
I don't think I could have sounded more desperate if I tried.
I could hear the laughter in her voice, which seemed warm and reassuring.
"Don't worry. I can help you figure this out.
"First let me ask you some questions …"
I stopped holding my breath. Maybe this wasn't going to be the root canal I imagined. Maybe this friendly voice on the other end of the line COULD help me find my way back to the path and a virtual connection.
“Now, you have turned it off and turned it back on, correct?”
Welcome to Internet gaming 101.
For the next hour and a half, we told each other everything. I told her how I spelled my name, and she told me how she spelled hers: “Cereal only with an A.” I'd had it all wrong.
I told her how I wanted to kick the machine with malice and the full force of my left foot.
She told me that she understood, and could empathize.
Next, we established what kind of game console we were using, what exact words were spelled out in the error message, and that I needed to create an account.
She walked me through the seventeen thousand steps needed to make the appropriate accounts; and no fewer than four hundred security codes to authenticate them, including a one-time, credit-card payment of $.50, which would be donated to charity.
It would also be the two-bit proof of my adulthood.
Eventually, my new friend guided me through some more jostling of this and cajoling of that until the ISP whispered its secret language to the console and it opened like magic.
“Presto! It's working! It's working! It's updating!”
“You're not out of the woods yet,” said Aereal. “Once it's done updating – which could take a while – you'll have to download your new accounts ...”
“And it won't prompt me, will it?” I said, finishing my new friend's sentence.
“No. It won't. … But don't worry. You really do know what you are doing. I'll send you a link to the instructions and it will be a piece of cake.”