Boo Hoo to Yahoo!
By Nanci E. La Garenne
A perfect summer day in theHamptonsis the time to surf the waves at Ditch, if you’re a surfer, lie in a hammock in the shade if you are a dreamer, sip cool fresh lemonade after a cool swim in a sapphire pool, or maybe go catch a fish or dig a few clams. Even shopping in the villages might be acceptable. Buy a dress for a summer soiree. What you don’t spend a summer day doing is, said. This is incorrect, said the rep. “Do you have another question for her? asked my son’s friend, quite patiently, I thought, after already a half hour of his vacation time, gone with the proverbial wind. “What is your favorite author?” Oh, I thought, easy. I know this. “Kate Chopin,” I said clearly. The Awakening. A favorite book. “How do you spell Chopin?” asked the rep. “C h o p i n. Chopin,” I said, like I was in a spelling bee. Silence. We all held our breath.
“Wrong answer,” said the rep. “Try another answer.” Okay. “Caleb Carr!” I was sure this was right. At this point my husband walks into the kitchen. “Who is Caleb Carr? He is your fabattling by phone with a yes, live Yahoo! representative, or dare I say tech support? “Oh, no!” as my two year old granddaughter would say, hands on her cheeks, eyes wide, acting out a Dora story adventure. “Oh, no!” is right.
I enlisted the help of my youngest son’s friend, a computer wiz, after my Yahoo! e mails became frozen for four days. Unable to send, unable to receive. Work contact’s correspondence needed in those e mails, phone numbers within, all lost to me. Deadline approaching for work. So my son’s computer wiz friend gets a Yahoo! person on the line. For days the computer kept asking me when I tried to access my account, “What is your oldest cousin’s name?” I had quickly typed his name. Sam. Wrong! said the computer. Really? That is his name. What the live Yahoo! rep asked now, was to put me on the line. “Answer this security question: What is your oldest cousin’s name?” “Sam,” I
vorite author? I didn’t know that. What did he write?” “Shh,” I say, “we are not playing Trivial Pursuit teams.” We wait. This is a bizarre game show, taking place over the phone, in my kitchen, fromIndia. At least the rep’s accent tells me that. And everything is outsourced now, so this makes sense. “Wrong answer,” says the rep. What? Not Caleb Carr, author of The Alienist and Angel of Darkness and one novel after that I did not like as much.
“Try again,” says the rep. I get another chance? Think, I say to myself, starting to sweat. I run over to my library shelf in the other room. Who is my favorite author….Hemingway? I loved A Moveable Feast. James Joyce? Uh, no. I liked The Dead, but Ulysses was a bit much. Let’s see…so many choices, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Hoffman, Tom Clancy, John Irving? MaybeIrving. No, I did not put that down when I secured that question in what, 2009, did the rep say? Jane Austen? No, Austen is not my favorite author. “I know,” I yell out from the other room. “ Nelson DeMille!” Nelson De Mille, my son’s friend repeats, I look hopefully at him. When did these kids grow up to be such big men with all that facial hair and large feet? Focus, Nance, I think to myself. We wait.
“Wrong answer,” says the rep. “Ohh,” everyone in the kitchen sighs loudly. “We were sure that was the right answer,” says my son’s friend’s mother. I look at her. Her son is losing patience now. “We don’t like the question,” he says to the rep on the phone. “Listen, Yahoo! caused this security problem, not her. This is a nationwide problem with your company; 450,000 accounts were compromised.” Click. The line went dead. “She hung up! The kitchen was now in an uproar. “I told you to change from Yahoo! to another e mail. They are noted for this kind of thing…” says my husband. “That is not at all helpful now,” I say, scowling.