Saturday, April 18, 2015

"It's Spring," and the Critical Mom

---and the bird is on the wing.  Went right past me, a gray blur smaller than a pigeon but disconcertingly close as I exited my front door.  
"Whoa!" Two of my kids and I were rushing to catch the tram, they to go to school and I to teach an early morning class, and I wondered why a little gray bird would dive bomb my navel.   It left no calling cards, but the incident thrust me into an unpleasant recollection of a time when I'd been waiting for a train in Paddington Station, London, and a pigeon had dropped a load right on my head.  You should have seen the way five or six genteel British ladies whipped out hankies and Kleenexes and dabbed ineffectively at my head.  I'd been on my way to the British library to do some research, and my first stop there was the ladies room, where I washed my hair in their institutional hand soap, before leaving to take my coat to a dry cleaners.  
Our little gray bird turned out to be living inside our newspaper mailbox, which was fortunately free of newspapers.  By the time it rushed at me, the bird had already built a nest of brown leaves, and laid a bunch of eggs.  So we are all waiting to see them hatch, and hope that they'll dine on the wasps and hornets who like to set up housekeeping under our eaves about this time of year.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The "Microsoft" Guy and the Critical Mom

It happens all too often--at least once a week.  The phone rings, a heavily-Indian accented voice says my name, and announces that he's calling from the London office of "Microsoft computers," only sometimes he pronounces it "Mick-rosoft."  There's a problem with my computer, he tries to tell me, a virus . . . .or even, "We are receiving signals from your computer!"   . . .  But nothing I say seems to dissuade the gentleman. 
"How's the weather in Mumbai?" I asked last time.
"I do not know what you are speaking, Ma'am!"  
He did a good job of sounding indignant.
"I am calling you from Lon-don!  I am an engineer with Microsoft computers!"
"If you're an engineer with Microsoft computers, I'm the Queen of England," I said, and slammed down the phone.
A good friend took one of these callers seriously when he told her that her computer was infecting other computers.  She gave him a lot of information and nearly ruined her computer, which needed hours of service. 
"Mom," said the sixteen-year-old, who knows everything, "You're doing it wrong."  He instructed me to tell the next Microsoft impersonator that my computer was fine, but that I would like to help him with his computer.  That I had experienced vibes strongly intimating a problem with his computer, and that I would do everything in my power to help him dispel the virus that was damaging his computer.
But this ingenious idea didn't work either.  The wilder my soliloquy ("Ah, but I've had visions!  Visions of a virus swirling through your computer!  Let me help you dear sir!") the more insistently he declaimed that he was "a Microsoft engineer, Ma'am, and your computer . . . . "
Having run out of energy, I inquired once more about the weather in Mumbai, and hung up.  
"Well, Mom, they're just poor people in India or Pakistan trying to make enough to live," intoned the sixteen-year-old, making me feel almost that I should let the callers make more money by talking to me longer.  My husband says I should try asking what time it is in London the next time our persistent imposter calls, or whether the snowstorm inconvenienced him.  But I don't think that'll stop him. has reported on this, but there's a sucker born every minute, and I must have done something--visited some website or something--to get the attention I'm getting from these folks.
And I don't even own a Microsoft computer.  I'm typing this on my Mac.