Am I being paranoid? Well, what would you make of the following conversation? I made a recent request for IT help online, identifying myself, of course. Within moments, an IT staffer called me on the phone.

I’m pretty sure IT has reservations about my IQ.


I think they’ve categorized my past requests for help and compiled a dossier on me that’s less than flattering.


Am I being paranoid? Well, what would you make of the following conversation?


I made a recent request for IT help online, identifying myself, of course. Within moments, an IT staffer called me on the phone.


IT: Hi, Frank.


Me: Hi.


IT: What’s the problem?


Me: I don’t have any sound on my computer.


IT: Sound?


Me: I can’t hear anything.


IT: Is the mute on?


(Let me interrupt right here. Why would IT automatically doubt my ability to locate “mute” unless its staffers had already reached unfavorable conclusions as to my computer acuity based on the flimsy evidence provided by past experience? Let us continue.)


Me: The mute? No, no. I checked that. The little icon thing on the bottom right, right? Looks like a little grey ball? When I click on it, the little mute box isn’t checked, so it isn’t on.


IT: OK. How long has this been a problem?


Me: Approximately one year.


IT: OK. What kind of model is it?


Me: I don’t know. It’s black.


IT: They’re all black. Can you read what it says on the computer?


Me: It says, “Think Pad.”


IT: Right, but I was thinking more along the lines of the specific model.


Me: Oh. Um, it says IBM.


IT: OK, I need a little more specificity.


Me: Lenovo?


IT: Little more …


Me: T43?


IT: OK, good. Give me a second to look it up.


Me: Okey doke.


(A moment later.)


IT: On the top left, are there little buttons with icons depicting speakers?


Me: Why, yes. There are.


IT: OK, and are there little arrows alongside them, one pointing up and one pointing down?


Me: Yeah.


IT: Push the one with the arrow indicating “up.” Does that help?


Me: Why, yes. It does. I can hear stuff now. Thanks!


IT: Great, anytime.


All right, this particular episode probably did little to enhance IT’s opinion of my techno intelligence. But if I had one more year, I’d have figured it out for myself.


And those buttons were really small.


Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Plymouth, Mass., office, and can be reached at fmulligan@wickedlocal.com.