And why, exactly, do they call it a Help Desk?


I got locked out of Skype this morning. I don’t care, mind you. I hate Skype, but some companies insist you use it, so I do.

I’ve hated instant messaging ever since AOL introduced it. I would log on to AOL (with a dial-up modem, mind you, so time was precious) and as soon as I got online, a window would pop-up with an instant message from one of my friends:

“Hi, whatcha doin’?”

Well, if I were proofreading, I could have my way with that instant message, but I was trying to work, so I ignored it. But you can’t ignore those messages if you forgot, as I did, to make yourself “invisible.” Otherwise, you must endure the constant “pop, pop” sound alerting you to your new messages.

And what are these messages? Nothing important for the most part. Pictures of a dog or cat, updates on a school play–all from people who sit 10 feet away from me at work. Here, I cannot ignore them. I must respond or be labeled a hermit, so I say “good for you” or “way to go” but I avoid the dreaded emoticon at all costs.

What is an emoticon, you ask? It is a smiley face 😉 or something equally insipid, like this:emoticonsMany of them are animated, so if you leave the Skype window open, they bounce, or dance on your computer into eternity…all while you are trying to work.

So this morning at work, I open Skype and realize that I logged out of it before I left the office last Friday. It wants my user name and password. I know my user name but what is the password? I try all the usual passwords that I use for work, but none of them work. In fact, I try so many passwords, that I’m now locked out of my Skype account, which secretly pleases me because (did I mention this?) I hate instant messaging.

Skype says if I’m locked out, it’s not a problem. Just click “Support” and go to the Help page.

All righty.

I fill out my name and e-mail address at work, because Skype is strictly something I only use at work. Almost immediately, I receive a message saying that they have sent instructions to my e-mail at work. Great!

I look for it. And look for it, but no e-mail is forthcoming. It occurs to me that the company is probably blocking outside e-mails from companies like Skype. Might be spam. Can’t have that, can we?

I call the Help Desk at work but it’s early and no one is in yet.

I try Skype again and now it’s asking for my Microsoft log-in. I have no idea what my Microsoft log-in is and, besides, I don’t want this account associated with my private accounts.

So I try creating a new Skype account that is tied to my work e-mail address. It wants lots of information about me, including my birth date. I fill in the month and day but not the year. ERROR! I must provide a year. Why? So that they might send me age-appropriate advertising.

I fill in the year of my birth as 1835 and it accepts it. Success!!

I’m anxiously awaiting those age-appropriate advertisements.

2 thoughts on “And why, exactly, do they call it a Help Desk?

  1. A did a study for our state’s DMV on the frequencies of a full name and date of birth. It was pretty much as I suspected. It is rare to have duplicates – except for one pattern. We have about 90,000 Somalian immigrants living in our state and there are 3,000+ Muhammad Muhammad’s born on 01/01/1983. In Somalia, they do not record or track birthdays. It is not a big deal for them.

    You have to wonder how these folks get credit cards or a ticket for an airline, much less subscribe to Skype.


  2. Makes you wonder about New Year’s 1983 – or 9 month’s earlier.

    Well, Skype links your name to your e-mail address, so that should solve a lot of problems. (And the birth date seems to be only for “age appropriate offers.”) For the airlines, however, I can’t imagine how they would be able to fly. I’ve had friends questioned because of discrepancies in their middle initial.

    I appreciate your response. It’s something I hadn’t considered. Thanks.


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