Best of RAH:
Breaking Divine Wind
by Greg Borek
This story first appeared in the March 1993 issue of Random Access
Copyright © 1993 Greg Borek, All Rights Reserved.
Contrary to popular opinion, the user support hotline desk at
Kamikaze computer is not a large, spacious room boasting a window
with a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. The actual conditions,
almost too inhuman to mention, aren't too unlike life at the
bottom of missile silo: flickering florescent lighting, an extremely
squeaky laser printer, a fax machine that insists on beeping very
loudly to announce its presence at random intervals, coffee that was
specifically mentioned in the Nuremberg war trials, and a smoking
policy that only someone who lives in a chimney would enjoy.
Under these adverse conditions, our hero bravely...deals with the
public. Let's listen in:
Kamikaze Computer user support hotline, my name is Bob, how
can I help you?
Hello Bob. I bought a model A6M computer and I am having
some problems with the floppy drive.
Let's see. The A6M has high density 5.25" floppy drives.
What sort of problems are you having?
Well, the drive is awfully slow and really squeaky.
Squeaky...Hmm. Sounds to me that it needs some lubrication.
I recommend processed american cheese food.
You want me to feed the mouse cheese?
No, of course not. That would be silly. Take the cheese
out of the wrapper, put it in the disk drive and reboot the machine.
Um...are you sure?
Of course I am. Only processed american cheese food
contains the correct ratio of dairy and petroleum by-products to
correctly lubricate a disk drive. When you call back remember to ask
for Bob. Enjoy your Kamikaze and have a nice day. Kamikaze
Computer user support hotline, my name is Bob, how can I help you?
My name is Grandpa Jones.
Nice to meet you Mr. Jones. How can I help you?
I bought one of your computers and it's a piece of junk.
That's not fair, Mr. Jones. What seems to be the matter?
It doesn't work.
Well, Mr. Jones, could you be more specific? Did you
assemble the computer yourself?
Assemble? I took it out of the box and it just sits there.
Did you attach any of the shiny black wires that came with
the computer from the computer to the power outlet on the wall?
How exactly did you expect the computer to work when it
isn't even plugged in? If you look carefully the box says "Computer"
and not "Fusion Reactor"; it doesn't generate it's own power, you
must do something we technical people call "plugging it in". On
second thought, I recommend that you don't even assemble your
computer for fear of infecting it with your startling stupidity. When
you call back remember to ask for Bob. Have a nice day.
Kamikaze Computer user support hotline, my name is Bob, how can I
Hello. I recently purchased one of your computers through
the mail and I was wondering what FCC class it is.
Which model do you have?
Oh, I'm sorry, I should have said. Let me see, I have the
documentation right here,...oh, yes, it's an N1K1.
Oh, a top of the line model. Well, that would be FCC class B.
Class B, huh? Thank you. Also, I am concerned about the
computer intefering with the TV and radio reception in my home. The
question is, what is the best room in the house to put the computer?
The higher off the ground the better.
Why higher off the ground?
Let me let you in on a not widely known electrical
engineering secret. It is the little publicized Kirchhoff's Other
Law: The higher off the ground the computer is, the faster it runs.
Oh, yes. Have you ever seen a Cray computer? No, of course
not. No one has. Why? Because they are tied to weather balloons
and kept at very great altitude. They would use planes to keep them
suspended in midair but they interfere with hard drives.
I didn't know that. So where should I put the computer?
On the roof.
On the roof? Isn't it going to get wet up there?
I think that it's pretty irresponsible to recommend putting
a computer somewhere it can get wet.
Not as irresponsible as purchasing several thousand dollars
of computer equipment through the mail, sight unseen. When you call
back remember to ask for Bob. Enjoy your Kamikaze and have a nice
day. Kamikaze Computer user support hotline, my name is Bob,
how can I help you?
Hi there, Bob. I was wondering if you could quote me the
prices for several Kamikaze computer models.
This is the user support hotline. The sales lines are
available during regular business hours. What model of computer were
you interested in, anyway?
I was wondering if you had a 486DX2 at 66 Mhz with over a
500 Meg hard disk, say for under $1000.
No, you cheap bastard. What do want us to do just mail you
a computer for free? When you call back be sure to ask for Bob.
Hello, Chuck. How's it going manning the hotline on your
I'll tell you Bob, the phone has been ringing off the hook,
one call right after another. I don't mind though, keeps me busy.
Well, Chuck, I'm really sorry to hear about you getting
laid off. I hope it's not been too rough on you.
I've learned to deal with it in my own way. Good luck, Bob.
Have fun on the phones tomorrow night.
Greg Borek is a C programmer with a "Highway Helper" (okay, "Beltway Bandit"
- but don't tell his boss we told you.) in Falls Church, VA. He has previously
been mistaken for a vampire. Greg can be reached via e-mail at:
Women do come with instructions; ask them.