Friday, June 15, 2012

Don't call me, I'll call you

My telephone rang this afternoon, and when I picked it up a woman with a thick East Indian accent identified herself by name, called me by name and asked me if I were the person with the computer. "Which computer?" I said. We have a few of them in the house, most cobbled together out of discarded parts. Harold runs Unix on one of those, just to see what might happen. Another one is his normal workaday desktop, where he can often be found putting texts into HTML or playing spider solitaire.

I do my writing and Facebooking on a MacBook, the replacement for the one I spilled a glass of water on a couple of years ago. Son John is visiting, and he has a tiny little pink laptop, which he painted over with a fierce death's head to keep it from looking effeminate.

"The one running Windows 7," the woman said.

Ah. She meant the new Dell tower I bought last week to make movies on. Seven years ago I fixed myself up with a nice Dell, big monitor, good sound, and a copy of Pinnacle editing software. I made two book trailers with it, among other things, and I found that film editing is a truly engrossing occupation, more fun in its way than writing. But the motherboard died, worked to death, no doubt, and I bought a replacement for it, with a slightly hotter Intel processor and Windows 7. So I told her, "That would be me."

"I'm calling to say that a virus has entered your computer and very destructive malware is downloading right now."

"Mercy me. How terrible. Why, that's just shocking."

Oblivious to the heavy sarcasm in my voice, because she was, after all, of another culture, and it's hard to read sarcasm in people of other cultures, she went on:

"Yes, and it must be fixed right away. Please go to your computer right now and follow my instructions."

"Not a chance," I said. "Have a nice day," and I hung up on her. How did she get my name and number? I'm guessing there's a guy in the Dell mailroom making a little money on the side by selling the names and numbers of potential goats to scammers in Calcutta. Harold, sitting at his own computer, looked the scenario up on the internet and confirmed that it was a known scam.

I'm not even mad at her, mostly because I saw her coming a mile off and that makes me feel unusually smart. Also because I entertained myself for the rest of the day by thinking up smart remarks I might have made to her. Rudeness can be really delicious for a person who has tried to be polite all her life.

I may be turning into one of those old ladies who enjoys being rude. I expect to have a lot of fun.

Kate Gallison


  1. Well? Kate, WAS there destructive malware? Did you check? Did your Dell cough up its guts? Even if you are .999 percent sure the lady was running a scam, that .001 could fry your bacon.

    No need to thank me. I'm always happy to twang the strings of paranoia.

  2. I tell you what, Henry, I pulled out the Belkin card that talks to the internet. Let them try to find me now. Bwahaha.

  3. Everybody is getting hit with more scams - computer, phones, mail - the folks in Washington are talking more on the C-Spans about the dangers to the USA and in the middle of the Big Apple we shudder at the thought of the Big Scam! The good news - we'd lose some weight asap! tjs

  4. Keep being rude, Kate. You're a natural.