When it looks like 3-day-old fish and smells like 3-day-old fish, chances are it’s 3-day-old fish.
Someone who shall remain nameless but is your sister was having trouble accessing her email account. By which I mean the password had been changed and not by her, and none of the incantations she used were of any use getting her back into her account.
Problem, meet Mom. Mom, problem.
So I pushed up my virtual sleeves (waaay too hot here for real sleeves) and went to work.
The phone was answered by a message recorded by someone from Munchkinland which chirped, “Your call is very important. Please stay on the line and you’ll be transferred to the next available agent.” This was followed by a blast of unpleasant music, a cycle which repeated every 23 seconds, until – wait for it – the voice changed to a sultry woman’s, said, “Goodbye”, and disconnected.
Yes, I taught the Puppy some new words.
Back to the Google Machine.
Desperate for a human who could help, I found another number and dialed. The line was immediately answered by – wait for it – a helpful human. Yay! Please sir, fix the problem.
In the way back of my mind, it vaguely registered that the person answered the phone with something like “Can I help you?” or “Hello” but nothing that specifically identified Google-ness. I squashed this because I HAD FOUND A PERSON!
We chatted. He assured me he could fix the problem. I breathed a sigh of relief. He researched and confirmed my worst suspicions: the account had been used simultaneously by Persons Unknown at IP addresses in such nefarious places as New York and New Mexico. Many emails had been sent containing images (Yikes! Images!). But he could Solve All.
What about the information on the Drive? I asked hesitantly. Is it still there?
Oh, no. It’s been deleted. But once they do this and that, they can get it back. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you.
So, my savior tells me, please go to www. whatever and I’ll give you an access code to type in.
Finally, finally, my brain joined the conversation.
Why do you need access to my computer? Gobbledy-gook explanation about cyber-something and creating a firewall from our IP address.
I asked some further questions, and continued not to understand the answers. I’m pretty sure the answers were designed to prevent understanding. After a minute or two of this, I assured him I just wanted the email fixed and wasn’t the least bit interested in a firewall for all our devices.
OK, he caved, would you like the protection on the email for one year or permanently?
Is there a fee for this? I ask.
Oh, yes, he says, the way you say “Duh” if someone asks you if you’d like to be taken out for an especially fine dinner.
Oh, no. says I most emphatically.
Not sure if he hung up before I did, but it was close. As I was disconnecting the call, I looked back at the search I’d done. Turns out I’d called something called facebook.com/gmailhelp or some such nonsense. Not Google themselves. Not even close.
It further turns out that Google does not give out help numbers. Or if they do, they are so well hidden that mere mortals cannot find them.
But it even further turns out that Amazing Moms can navigate the instructions and recover the Mess that Was Pi’s Email. Ta-Dah! (You may applaud.)
It further, further, further turns out that no emails were sent by, from, or to New Mexico, and that her Drive is completely intact.
Lesson: If it looks like 3-day-old fish….