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I don’t know what your family traditions are, but I suspect that, since you live in the modern age, you might have one in common with the traditions we hold dear at The Mom’s, namely, shouting at the computer.

This time-honoured tradition can be enjoyed by one and all as long as someone is brave enough to want to fill out a complicated form, on the internet, after having eaten all the sugar, caffeine, beer and food colouring. This always leads to hours of endless fun. If you haven’t tried it, do!

It’s easy enough to play shout with anger and rage at the stupid computer.

First, you need a computer. It’s best to use one that isn’t yours, that way you can also point out the many many flaws of the owner operator at the same time as listing off the foolishness of Bill Gates/Steve Jobs (delete as appropriate). By using a computer that is not yours you will also ensure maximum levels of irritation. I love offering to let poeople use my laptop at times like this, mainly because I use an English keyboard, as opposed to an American one. It’s really only a small difference, but what a difference it is! The enter/return key is shaped differently on my keyboard and so when an unfamiliar user is using it and things are going okay and has entered all their information and is ready to send it and hits, without looking, because they’re typing with assurance and wild abandon, feeling that they might just be able to do this once, the easy way, the key that should be the enter key but is not is hit and it sends the form into hysterics. Well, that is surely a special time. Made all the more enjoyable because it takes ages to work out what, exactly, went wrong.

So, second, you need an overly complicated form to fill in. It’s best if the form is time-sensitive and totally useless. So, something like PayPal is great, but what’s better is something like Air Canada. What you want is for the person who will be entertaining you for the afternoon, to have to sign up, become a member, and retrieve an email that’s sent to the one email address they’ve forgotten the password to,  in order to even begin filling in the actual form. There’s really a lot of ways you can have a fantastic amount of fun here!

By now, if you’re lucky, the person who will be entertaining you for the next few hours, has been worked into a lather about how stupid this form is, and subsequently, has started shouting loudly at the computer. If they are threatening to throw it out the window, bonus points for you! And if they’ve managed to get every dog in your house to start barking and growling along with them, bravo!

The key to the next steps is basically to keep this person at the computer for as long as possible. This will mean you will need to make helpful suggestions. Things like shut the computer down and restart, check if the modem is plugged in correctly, reset the modem, etc. You want to diffuse and then restart all rage and anger, sort of like a pop song. Consider the rage and anger the fun chorus – join in and sing along!

If you are an advanced player, and your computer is too big to be easily thrown out the window or kicked down a flight of stairs, you can also suggest that the person who wants to fill in the form might be advised to call your internet provider. If yu live in Canada, this will mean, probably, a call to Rogers or Bell. This will also mean being kept on hold possibly through the night. You really need to make sure you can commit to this if you’re going to do it, because giving up before hearing the voice of the customer service representative on the other line, is just weak.

This year, it was Crazy D who was the one who decided to fill in a form over the holidays when everybody knows the Internet is only half working and half drunk. We played several speed rounds and then when I handed him the phone, he made a rash decision and phoned the people who were in charge of the form and gave them all the info over the phone. But then, he’s an advanced player. It’s rare that the player actually wins the game, but one who can convey the information to the recipient not using the Internet well… that person deserves to win the game.

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