When a Stranger from Ohio Calls at 9:30 p.m.

Even trees are constantly updating.

Even trees are constantly updating.

Miles run today: 6

Interviews completed since yesterday: 2 (I’m ahead!)

Tech help phone calls I enjoy: 0

Last night at 9:30, we got a phone call from Ohio.

We do not know anyone in Ohio.

A young man with an Indian accent asked to speak to my 12-year-old son.

Some parents might worry. But the pieces started falling into place for me.

“Oh! You’re with Microsoft, right?”

He said yes.

“Could you call back tomorrow? He’s asleep.”

Technology customer service calls are fun for my son. First of all, he is one of those “early adapters,” which means he likes to get any new gadget, software or thingamajig right about the time it slides past the beta testers.

Then he is stunned that all of the bugs aren’t worked out.

Back in the summer, I was in my office, writing away at my desk, when I heard a series of responses from my son in the other room. Who in the world was he talking to?





______ Woodman.”

He was becoming increasingly frustrated because the woman on the other end of the line was convinced my son was a woman.

“Okay, Missus Woodman, please reboot your computer.”

“No, Missus Woodman, you will not need to do that.”

“Now tell me your name, Missus Woodman.”

When my son kept rattling off a male name, the customer service rep would repeat, “No, your name.”

We still laugh about it.

Some parents might worry about the things their kids get into on the Internet. Not me. When I walk past my son’s screen, he is often watching unboxing ceremonies on CNET. If you do not know what unboxing is, you are not allowed to join our family.

So he is becoming the resident expert on all technological purchases within the extended family. My sister might call to ask about the pros and cons of buying an iPad Mini versus an iPod Touch. Or my son might pull up a list of reasons for us to purchase a certain Roku/HuluPlus package.

After my son had been for a visit at my parents’ house last summer, the cable guy had to come and fix something. My mom started asking about the DVR capabilities and told the guy that her grandson was absolutely certain their TV could do something she was sure was impossible.

The cable guy set down his tools and considered my mom for a moment. “You should listen to your grandson more often.”

There is always some new horizon, some new technology to conquer. My son now has Windows 8. He got it over Christmas because it looks cool, with lots of colors, like in the commercial.

Also…  he is able to mind-meld with software and bend it to his will.

But there is one problem: it keeps hanging up on a Windows Update thingie and wanting to restart. This is one of those loops that he has not yet been able to bend to his will.

Yesterday afternoon, he sighed and said, “Mom, it looks like I’m going to have to call customer service.”

I think he might have smiled.

The thing computer software geniuses have not yet discovered is that preteens have all the time in the world. Unlike the rest of us, who become fidgety and short-tempered while listening to Muzak for 30 minutes, a 12-year-old male is content to do what it takes to make his machine workable again.

That, and when the tech helper on the other end of the phone says, “Please check your router cable,” my son does not ask which color the cable is.

Not that I’m speaking from personal experience.


42 thoughts on “When a Stranger from Ohio Calls at 9:30 p.m.

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I saw your title, and the first thing I wanted to say was, “It wasn’t me! I promise!”

    Your son sounds super cool. Between his technological whiz and my 12 year old’s magic and illusionist skills, we could have quite the thing going on. Use our sons for a little profit. That’s not bad, is it?…

  2. Teresa Cleveland Wendel says:

    Gosh. I wish I had a techie at my beck and call. Sometimes it seems like I spend the entire day on tech support and then something happens to the connection before the problem’s resolved and I have to start all over again.

  3. David Gentry says:

    Hell is a technical support call.

    That’s one of the reasons I have an iMac. The only time in 5 years that I called Apple tech support was when I had a connectivity problem with a non-apple email service. Yes, Apple tech support solved the problem.

    As a small business owner, I don’t have time to deal with tech support.

  4. Ravena Guron says:

    I suck at all things technology. I have no time for computers and such, because they’re supposed to DO WHAT I SAY and never fail me 🙂 And it seems I can’t join your family because I haven’t the faintest clue what unboxing is. Is that a sport? Like boxing? 😀

    I love your family stories. They always make me smile.

    • annewoodman says:

      Unboxing is not at all like boxing, but maybe for some, it’s just as exciting. ; ) Maybe you should check out CNET… there are apparently some riveting things going on there.

      Thanks for reading, Ravena.

  5. Daryl says:

    I’ve made over 50 computers in my life. I’ve have upgraded just as many. I thought I knew all there was to know about technology. After going to Best Buy to buy a Roku, I was dazzled by the Google TV package at three times the price. As a researcher, I quashed my impulse purchase to find out more about its capabilities. I discovered that while conceptually it’s brilliant, something was lost in translation, and so I went back to the idea of the Roku. That evening I posed the idea our son, expecting him to smile at the idea of a fancy Google internet TV device. He just shook his head and said, “Naaa…it’s not good, Roku is better and so much cheaper”. Why did I bother doing the research? Next time I’m skipping CNET, Wired, Consumer Reports, the Amazon and Newegg.com reviews, why, because I’m going to ask my son 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes, you have been updated. That, and you have to spend your days earning money, while our son has a few minutes to check out the latest CNET video. So, maybe it’s an unfair comparison. Definitely check with him before making any technological purchases. ; )

  6. Bernie Brown says:

    I looked up unboxing. Does it really mean that? Do people actually watch that? I must be missing something.

    I have an ex-IBMer at my back and call; however, unlike your son, I have had to push/pull/cajole/whine/bribe him into any new technology. Why is that?

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes, unboxing is exactly that. Yes, I know. Me, too. ; )

      Well, as far as the cajoling, I knew you’d get that iPhone. You are very persuasive, Bernie. In the nicest possible way. ; )

  7. Very good. You are lucky to have him in your family. Perhaps he should guest post on the latest techy stuff. I’d love to talk with someone who has used Dragon.

  8. I admit I had to YouTube “Unboxing Ceremony.”

    To each his own. I’m gonna read a book.

    • annewoodman says:

      We can’t all be writers, Mike. ; ) I am quite relieved my son didn’t get the writing bug… he might have a shot at a decent, well-paying career! (And if his company needs a writer, he’ll know who to call.)

  9. Melissa says:

    The boy is a genius…says my whole family. My boys (ahem, young men) were so impressed by his technical prowess. My oldest showed him a game and when we got home he said yours had probably beaten and figured out “how it ran.” Was he right?

    • annewoodman says:

      Well, he tried, anyway. ; ) He’s on the phone with Microsoft as we speak, talking about “resolving the problem” and saying, “thank you.” Sometimes my heart hurts when I think about how cool he is. I’m sure you know the feeling. ; )

  10. strawberryquicksand says:

    That is precious. 🙂 I remember years ago when my flatmate and I had a telly that stopped working, we got the neighbour’s three year old son over to have a look. He got it working again. Kinda probaby by accident but the irony was certainly not lost on me! lol

    • annewoodman says:

      They call them “digital natives” around here, and it would not surprise me in the least if the 3-year-old actually did fix the TV! There is something so natural about how the young-uns interact with technology these days. I try to let some of it rub off on me… by osmosis.

  11. jmmcdowell says:

    Well, like Ravena, I guess I won’t be able to join your family, either. 😦 And I envy you having such a tech-literate son. My husband and I must depend on our rather dated skills…. We remember computers with no hard drives and then amazing leaps to 30-meg drives!

    (And my first thought was that Carrie was calling you, too!)

    • annewoodman says:

      Wouldn’t a call from Carrie have been a whole lot more fun?!?! ; )

      Oh, well. We can’t all enjoy unboxing. I do wish there was less interest in the disposable waste generated by technology, but I guess they have to package these fragile devices inside something.

  12. Martha Merrill Wills says:

    I read a piece tonight about 6 of the youngest blogging success stories. It’s amazing what kids can do with technology. Love that you are so supportive! Here’s the link to that article.. http://hirebloggers.com/worlds-youngest-bloggers-6-success-stories/

    • annewoodman says:

      Wow. That’s amazing! We have some tech genius types here in our area who I’ve interviewed about games they’ve designed or apps they’ve created. I’m so impressed… and many of them are very well-spoken, too.

  13. Subtlekate says:

    I did laugh reading this. My son watches unboxing videos with great excitement.

  14. My son (11) is big into technology too, we’ll have conversations like this:
    Him – “Can you buy me an HTSR47 cable adapter?”
    Me – “Um, maybe, what is it?”
    Him – Well it’s so that I can link my laptop to the TV via the XBox and have the sound come out of my gaming chair”
    Me – “Oh, right, and what’s the benefit of that?…actually, never mind, just tell me where we can get it from and how much it is, and then I’ll decide.”

    Now I’m off to look up what unboxing is…

    • annewoodman says:

      Our sons would probably get along perfectly and speak with each other in a language that bears no resemblance to English. ; ) I’m glad another mom can relate!

  15. stephanie says:

    Ha! This post is fabulous. I love your son already. My neighbour called us last night to see if we’d be able to help her hook up her DVR. She said all of her friends were over 70 and none of them could help. It made me feel young and technologically hip. Of course, I had to ask my husband to go, since I’ve never hooked up a DVR before. Haha!

  16. 4amWriter says:

    I need your son at my house, pronto. My husband likes to pretend he’s a techie, but he’s not. You really ought to hire him out. Then you won’t need to job search anymore.

    • annewoodman says:

      My dad said the same thing. In a few years, oooh, boy. Maybe he’ll buy us a trip to Hawaii or something when he makes his first million. ; ) I don’t even pretend to know how to fix these techie things. I yell into the other room.

  17. It makes me sigh with envy when little people are so good at computers. I wonder how they pick things up so fast. My 2 year old niece stands in front of the tv, swiping with her finger, making confused expressions when it doesn’t respond like her daddy’s ipad.

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