It's Mikey's first day at his new job, and he gets a little more than he bargained for. 99% of the dialogue here is from the song of the same name by that wonderful Canadian band, Three Dead Tro...
He rounded a corner and was instantly greeted with the sounds of ringing telephones, chattering coworkers, and the occasional shouted obscenity. This did nothing to ease his fears. He adjusted his bright red tie, looking around to find out where to go. He felt lost.
"You the trainee?" asked a flat voice nearby. He nodded in its direction. "Third door on your right." Mikey muttered a thank you and walked toward the door, which was partially open. There was a polished brass nameplate on it reading 'INTERNET HELP DESK.' He pushed it all the way open and went inside.
He saw a blond-haired man leaning back in his leather desk chair, tossing a tennis ball up in the air and catching it with one hand. Mikey noticed several crushed Red Bull cans in the trash can, a mini-fridge in one corner with a microwave stacked on top of it, and several stress-relief toys lining the shelves. The man seemed to suddenly have realized he was there and set the tennis ball in an open drawer behind the desk.
"So...you must be the new trainee," he said, sitting up straight in the chair. Mikey nodded. "I'm Bob." An uncomfortable silence came between them, so Bob took the tennis ball out again, this time tossing it back and forth between his hands. "So...uh...welcome. Internet Help Desk. It's tough. The way I see it, you've got four basic essential needs: police, fire, ambulance...Internet Help Desk." He laughed, expecting Mikey to do the same. When he only smiled uneasily, Bob cleared his throat and continued speaking.
"Yeah, air traffic controllers think they've got the most stressful job. Ha! I'll tell you what, there's nothing that beats the adrenaline buzz of configuring some idiot's ADSL modem, even though he's running Microsoft 3.1 on a 386 with 4 megs of RAM!" Bob exclaimed. Mikey sat down and was about to speak, but the ringing of the phone cut him off. Bob placed a headset on his head and pressed a button on the phone.
"Thank you for calling the Internet Help Desk," he said in a much lighter voice, obviously faking his happiness. "One of our trained technicians will be with you shortly. Please hold." He pressed the hold button and instantly looked at Mikey. "Okay, that's lesson number one. The hold button is your best friend. Always put the customer on hold right off the bat. Shows 'em who's boss." He waited a few more seconds before resuming the call. "Your call is very important to us. Please hold." He pressed the button again.
"See, it takes some of the fight out of 'em. Because when they start telling you they don't know how to use a mouse or that they've been putting their coffee cup in their CD-ROM tray, and they start to realize what an idiot they are, they are gonna be venting all over you my friend!" Bob said, pointing at Mikey as if accusing him of something. He suddenly relaxed.
"But don't worry. I'm here. I'm a vet. I'm a pro. Hell, I've been here eight /months/...which in Internet time is about 25 years." Mikey remained speechless in response, so Bob sighed and pressed the hold button again.
"Thank you for holding. My name is Bob, and you are...Mr. Armstrong? Okay...sure, I can call you Billie Joe. How can I help you today? ...You can't get your email...wow, that does sound serious." He rolled his eyes sarcastically. "Okay, can you be more specific?" His face fell. "You can't. Okay, please hold."
Bob yawned and leaned back in his chair, much to Mikey's confusion. Wasn't he supposed to be helping this guy and not ignoring him? Bob began whistling absentmindedly, letting his eyes travel around the room. Mikey was too afraid to say anything. There had to be a point to all of this. After a sufficient amount of time had passed, Bob resumed the call.
"Thanks for holding. I need to find out if you're running Microsoft Outlook Express or Netscape Communicator...You don't know. Okay, well, look in the top right corner of the screen. Do you see a big blue 'e' or a big green 'n'?" Bob almost smacked his own face when he heard the response. "Big black nothing. Okay. Well, I'm really sorry, that's entirely my fault. What you're gonna need to do - now listen very carefully - you're gonna need to turn your computer on. Yeah." Bob nodded a few times. "Yeah, I'll wait." He put the call on hold without a second thought.
"Guy's got 10,000 times the power of the computer we used to land on the moon, and he needs me to turn it on," he said flatly, drumming his fingers on his desk impatiently. He took a Red Bull out of the mini-fridge before resuming the call.
"Okay, you got it all booted up? ...No, sir, please stop kicking it...No, is it turned on? Great, great. Okay, now, what I'm gonna need you to do is read from the big TV part. You're gonna need to read me the name of the little picture that you double-click on to get your email normally." He grabbed the tennis ball again and began tossing it back and forth between his hands. "Microsoft...Outlook...okay, so, Outlook Express? Okay, great. Go ahead and double-click on that. Alright, good. Now up at the top where it says File, Edit, View, blah blah blah...click on Tools, bring it down and click on Accounts. Then when the window comes up, click the mail tab, click on the blue text, click on Prop- No, Tools. /TOOLS/, sir." Bob suddenly dropped the tennis ball on his desk. It bounced a few times and rolled toward Mikey, who inadvertently caught it. He hesitated to give it back to Bob.
"Microsoft Office- No, you're not running Office, sir." His voice was steadily growing louder. "No, you're running the wrong program. It's my fault entirely. Don't worry about it." Bob snatched the tennis ball away from Mikey and began turning it over in his hands, glaring at the younger man. "Just- no-" He sighed. "Illegal...instruction...well, I'm sorry, your copy of Office must be pooched, sir." Bob suddenly froze and stopped speaking. Mikey looked at him expectantly.
"No, no, you haven't broken any laws. It's an illegal instruct- no, sir, please, stop crying." Mikey's eyes widened. He wasn't sure he could handle this on a daily basis. Bob suddenly stood up. "Do not unplug it. Do not unplug-"
He ripped the headset off and sent it clattering to the floor, sweeping half of his desk's contents off after it. He sat back down and rested his elbows on the polished wood, burying his face in his hands and attempting not to scream. Taking a deep breath, he picked up the headset and returned it to its original place.
"Okay, well let's just plug it back in then." Mikey was shocked at how quickly Bob could change moods. He eyed the can of Red Bull nervously. "Yeah, you just go ahead and let it start up, and I'll be right back." He practically punched the hold button.
"We have got a serious 12-o'clock-flasher here. You know what that means?" Bob asked him. Mikey shook his head. He wasn't sure he really wanted to know. "Every appliance in his house is always flashing 12," said Bob, opening and closing his hands in a flashing motion to prove his point. "There's no way to get a 12-o'clock-flasher online, okay? It cannot be done. I've seen guys eat their own headsets trying. It can't be done." He began picking things up off the floor, and Mikey helped him. "We gotta go to plan B." He tentatively released the hold button.
"Hi, Mr. Armstr- I mean, Billie Joe. I was just wondering, do you have a child in the house?" Mikey froze in complete shock. That was the worst idea he had ever heard. Bob noticed the skeptical look on his face and held up a finger in warning. "You do? Great. How old is he? Eleven. Perfect. Could I maybe talk to him for a second? ...Hi there. Who am I talking to? Jakob? Hi Jakob. What grade are you in? Sixth, wow." Bob suddenly smiled as an idea came to him. "Who do you like better, the Spice Girls or the Britney Spears?" There was a pause, and his face fell. "Oh...yeah...I guess they are a little 20th century..." Mikey tried to hide his laughter. Bob just glared at him.
"Okay, listen, Jakob. Here's the thing: your daddy really needs to get his Outlook Express configured to use the third-party dialer instead of LAN or whatever it's on now. Could you configure that for me? Thanks." Bob grinned triumphantly. Mikey's jaw dropped. He couldn't believe it was even possible. "Okay, and check out his SMTP preferences. I think they might be pooched. Okay, thanks Jakob. Oh, and Jakob- um, if I were you, the next time your daddy tells you his computer isn't working, tell him it's broken. And tell him to give it to you to play with, and send him out to buy an iMac. It's a computer especially made for idi- uh..." He paused as he thought of what to say, then snapped two fingers together. "For mommies and daddies. Okay, thanks Jakob. No, I don't wanna talk to him. Well get him a tissue. Okay bye."
Bob ended the call and sighed deeply. He stood and walked around to the other side of the desk and placed a firm hand on Mikey's shoulder. Mikey looked up at him with a mixture of fear, awe, and disbelief.
"Well, I'm gonna go smoke, but if anyone asks, I'm on my lunch break. Go ahead and take your first call. Go crazy. If you don't know what to do, blame Microsoft and send them back to the store they bought it from. You'll be alright. Just keep your head up and your mouse arm loose." Bob headed towards the door, but stopped halfway there. "Oh, and stay away from any fun sites between calls. They check." He walked out the door, leaving behind a very confused - and suddenly promoted - Mikey.
He walked around to the other side of the desk and placed the headset on his head, glancing around at how different things appeared. He wondered how long Bob would be gone. The phone rang, interrupting his thoughts, and he answered it.
"Internet Help Desk, this is Mikey speaking," he said tentatively.
"Hey, Mikey!" Gerard said from the other end of the line. "Normally I wouldn't do this, but I just wanted to see how your first day is going."