The call started on the wrong foot. Even before he finished his first sentence my caller started poking me with information like it was a sharp stick and I was something on the road he wasn't quite sure was dead. He's got his shorts in a twist about not being able to access the internet.
"And, I'll have you know," he said "we encrypted this machine yesterday."
With the menace in his voice, I’m pretty sure if I'd have gotten his spit on me through the phone, it would have sizzled like oil on a hot grill.
Somehow, I manage to get more details than just, "I can't get online" out of him. Come to find out, he can launch his browser, but gets an error when the home page (undoubtedly MSN) tried to load. He read me the text of the popup message as if the words were made of pig manure; "The web page can't be displayed because you are currently working offline.".
Ah ha! This was going to be an easy one, if my hunch was right. And I'm preparing to put some ketchup on the bowl of crow I'd like to hand this smug jerk.
I ask him if he still has his IE open. He grunts an affirmative, so we start troubleshooting. I ask him to click on his File menu. After waiting a few beats, I ask him if he's seeing that menu. To which he launches into another tirade about how he can’t get the internet to work. Several moments pass, and when I can get in a word in, I ask him to try something else, the hotkey combo. Eventually, we succeed in using the keyboard commands to get the menu to display. Either he wasn't seeing the right place to click, didn't know what I was talking about, or needed to be spoon fed, but he wasn't finding it on his own.
Finally, we got the File menu to drop down so that he could see the options. As you may or may not be familiar with, the very bottom item listed is "Exit". There are still a handful of people out there who use this instead of the red X in the upper right. This guy was apparently one of those people.
"Alright," I said. "If you would look at the last entry in the menu, you'll see that it says 'exit'. Do you see the item just above it that says 'offline'?"
There's a grunt and then stony silence on the line. I can't tell if he's realized the issue, or if he's just still mad.
"Can you tell me, is there a check mark next to the item labeled 'offline'?"
A very terse, "Yes, there is." comes over the open line.
Cheerfully, I chirp "Please click on that to remove the check mark. Once, you've done that, please refresh the page and see if that restores your web access." Based on the vague reflection I could see in my monitor, the glint off my teeth was particularly noticeable in the office's fluorescent lighting.
After a few beats, a very muffled, "It's working." issued from the earpiece of my headset. His wounded pride must have compelled the word vomit, because suddenly, he had plenty to say in his defense. "How did you know that was there? I didn't see that. I spent an hour working on this! That's never happened to me before!"
Yeah, sure buddy. My date told me the same thing on Friday and I didn't believe him either.