How I Spent My Morning

Creative Commons License photo credit: tuppus

But first, let’s go back to Saturday afternoon.

My grandfather calls and says the following:

“A friend of mine gave me something to put on the computer. Where you click things and things come up. So where should I put it on the computer?”

Now, anyone who’s ever taken a similar call knows that this is a minefield. Is there a CD with software that needs to be installed? Is there a thumb drive with a file that needs to be dragged over? Is it compatible with my grandfather’s Mac? Have I just lost my entire Saturday?

But before I could stop shuddering at the possible implications, the phone cut out. And when I called back, I got a message saying that the phone was temporarily out of service. (Meaning, at least, that it probably wasn’t a medical emergency causing the problem.)

So I basically forgot about it.

This morning, he calls again.

His phone is a pay-as-you-go cell phone, and he needs to top it off. He’s calling from the lobby of his building. Would I please call the phone number and top off the card using his debit card?


He gives me the phone number to call. He gives me the debit card number. I am savvy enough to ask for his cell number, which I assume I need to top off the account. I am savvy enough to ask for the expiration date of the debit card. After he argues with me about whether such a thing exists, he finds it and gives it to me.

Slight foreshadowing: I consider asking for the security number on the card, but figure that’s overkill.

Call #1: 800-387-7255

“You’ve reached a number that’s out of service.”

Retry, retry, retry, give up.

Grandpa checks the number. Reads part of it out, then puts on his glasses for the second half of the number. It occurs to me too late that this is the wrong order to do things.

Call #2: 800-387-8255

Sex line.

Grandpa checks the number, then gives a me completely different number, in no way related to the first two:

Call #3: 888-322-1122


But the automated jerk on the phone needs the security code of the card.

So I say, screw this, I’ll use my own card. In order to use my own card, I need the phone account’s PIN, which I don’t have. Argue with live rep about this for a frustrating 40 seconds.

Grandpa gives me a person’s name and says that the name is the PIN. I’m supposed to type the PIN into the phone, so I ask for a numeric PIN (even if it’s just the name translated into the corresponding numbers on a phone pad).

He gives me a numeric PIN that is unrelated to the person’s name.

Confidence level: Subterranean.

I also ask for the security number of the card. After again arguing about the existence of such a thing, he gives me the security code, so maybe I won’t need the PIN after all.

Call #4:

I get to use the credit card, I don’t need the PIN, but I need my grandfather’s billing address ZIP code. Which I don’t have. Or, I have an out-of-date one, since he recently moved.

So once again I choose to pay with my own credit card. So again I need the PIN. Wrong PIN.

Get the ZIP code from Grandpa.

Call #5: Success.

It’s topped off. The message tells me to make sure to top it off again in January. So that’s something to look forward to in the new year.

Twenty minutes later the phone rings. It’s my uncle. Apparently, he had killed half an hour on this task before Grandpa handed the baton to me.

But my uncle didn’t get a sex line, so even though I’m second-tier, I did enjoy some benefits.

Grandpa turned 96 in July, by the way.

12 Responses to How I Spent My Morning

  1. Margo October 11, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    Wow, what a morning! At least your uncle had not already fixed the problem and you at the same time. Very funny story, and I have similiar one. So funny!

  2. BruceS October 12, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    It probably wasn’t nearly as funny as it sounds, but I laughed reading it. I thought tech calls with my dad (career engineer) were bad, but this was much worse.

    As an example of my dad’s level of tech savvy, he got a cell phone and couldn’t get it to take incoming calls. None of us (5 kids all at a distance) could help, so he repeatedly called the tech support and they kept trying. Every test they ran showed the phone as good, but as soon as they were through helping him, the phone stopped working again. Eventually, they had him go in to the local Radio Shack or similar to get help in person. The phone worked fine for outgoing calls, but not incoming. With someone watching his technique, they quickly determined the problem. He would turn the phone on, make a call with it, then turn it off. He didn’t want to waste the battery.

    The worst part of your situation is that you provided a false tonic. Now we’re all waiting for the resolution of the computer problem!

    • Kevin October 13, 2010 at 8:25 am #

      Exactly! I want to know about the thing where “you click things and things come up.” Sounds like a virus to me, so when do we get to the part where all of this effort got you to the point where you said “Grandpa, you can’t put that on your computer.”

      Nice storytelling.

  3. admin October 13, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

    Bruce, that’s a great story and I will steal it. I think your dad and my grandfather should hang out.

    Grandpa never again mentioned the thing he wanted to put on his computer. Maybe my uncle helped him with that. I sure as hell am not going to ask about it.

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  5. Reena December 7, 2015 at 11:47 pm #

    Hey there Stephanie,It’s Peter and Lori’s oldest. I have not a clue what you’re going thrguoh nor can I imagine going thrguoh what you must be experiencing on a daily basis nor do I know if you even remember me but I definitely remember you and I most certainly know what it’s like to feel in pain and hopeless all the time; I am going thrguoh medical stuff myself; nothing too terribly drastic but enough to make me feel weak and debilitated and therefore frustrated on a regular basis; without my family, fiance and amazing friends I know that it would be ten times harder than it is and I couldn’t do it without any of them in my life. I know your family is doing exactly the same because they are the kindest people I know and when I first heard about your diagnosis I was heartbroken; I don’t want anything to happen to you or your family; you are all very important to me and have been a great influence as a result; I miss you guys. What I do know even more than all that though and whatever you’re experiencing right now with cervical cancer is that no matter what I think or you think or how much we worry or try to not worry; God is always in control and He has a plan, for all of us and I know in my heart that He will watch over you and take care of you just as He has your whole life. I know that isn’t usually apparent and easy to understand but the truth is He loves you; I’m sure you obviously know that by now but it never hurts to be reminded and have someone tell you Jesus loves you and you’re never alone; you are strong, a lot stronger than me i can assure you and you are going to pull thrguoh this thing. God loves all of us no matter what and He will heal you; I know that because I have seen Him do it with other people I know and care about and with complete strangers that I never even met; miracles are happening every single day. Regardless of what happens with you, you and your family will constantly be in my prayers and my heart goes out to all of you with love. God Bless!Always,your friend,Ryan Lloyd SorrellsP.S. Congratulations on getting married, that’s so cool; he’s a lucky guy. My fiance (Amy) and I are tying the knot on May 27 of this year; we’ve been engaged for over two years now and together for almost three. I can’t wait to marry this beautiful and amazing girl of my dreams and we’re both super excited to say I do. I am really looking forward to being her husband and taking care of her for the rest of my life; I am so happy and even more than that I am so very very happy for you. Take care and hang in there steph, you’re doing great so never give up.

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