When Is a “Live Chat” a Cool Chat?

Oh no! Black streaks across the page from my new printer! Project due tomorrow morning! Don’t panic!

OK, go to the printer’s website. I see multiple choices: email, call, or help online—more panic! Email too slow…forget the call—I’m not good at deciphering outsourced accents…go for online chat.

I click, and before I have time for more anxiety, there is “support specialist,” Vindo.

After the usual greeting, Vindo begins asking questions as if I should instantly know exactly what’s he’s talking about. But I’m not a techie. What’s more, to answer any of his questions means dashing around my desk, avoiding the couch and table, to where the printer sits on packing boxes, and then back to my computer to type the info he needs so he can ask me more questions.

An hour and a half later, we’re still typing, and I feel like I’m running a marathon. However, my newfound knowledge of printer parts—ADF cover, pick rollers, separator pad—is impressive. A mite of confidence combines with a mountain of determination to get this job done. When Vindo instructs me to clean the input guide rollers beneath the pick rollers, I tackle the job like a champ. I’m on a mission.

But when Vindo says the rollers will take 15 minutes to dry, up comes the panic again! Fifteen minutes of online silence will last forever, and I do not want to lose this man. On the other hand, I’m exhausted and could definitely use a break.

Then, another feeling surfaces: I realize I’m communicating not with just a printer tech specialist, but here’s another human being, and I’d like to connect with him. I’d been watching the name Vindo scroll down the page, seeing that English may be his second language, and it dawns on me he could be from India. If so, this might be a way to chat beyond the technical.

Tentatively, I type: “By the way, are you by any chance in India? I was there once.”

Vindo: “Yes you are right. I am here in New Delhi, the capital city of India. Where did you visited?”

Me: “I was in Bombay (before the name changed to Mumbai), and then in a small village outside Hyderabad.”

Vindo: “I think you visited here some around 10 years or before back?”

Me: “Actually it was in 1992. Bombay was beautiful, colorful, cosmopolitan. In the village, people welcomed me—a foreigner. I loved India.”

Vindo: “Yes, Karyn, here the people have simple living in villages.”

Vivid images of India flood my memory: the gracious hospitality of a family who welcomed me with gifts, specially-prepared foods and a bedroom they had vacated for my comfort; the thrill of riding through villages on overcrowded buses vying for road space with bicyclists, pushcarts and sacred cows; the smiles on faces of women dressed in red, purple and gold saris, as I gestured with them about their fruits and vegetables in open air markets. I wonder about Vindo’s world.

Me: “Vindo, did you grow up in Delhi?”

Vindo: “No, I grow up in another small city, Allahabad, in Uttar Pradesh.

Me: “Wow, how do you like the big city?”

Vindo: “I really do not impress either the city big or small; If you have your loving people near to you then these things does not matter.”

Me: “Vindo, that’s such a good way to look at life!”

Fifteen minutes pass quickly. One more hour of cooperative efforts—Vindo sticking with me to the end—and the machine is good to go. I thank him for his patience, and we each type good-bye.

As I log off, Vindo’s words stay with me: “I really do not impress either the city big or small; If you have your loving people near to you then these things does not matter.”

A few months earlier, we moved from a spacious home to what a friend calls a “shoe box.” This downsizing cast a shadow over my spirits. Our large and gracious home had represented the center of the family for years—where we could all come together frequently. When my step dad passed on, we needed to move.

Our new space is small, but now I see it in a new light! The size of the space can’t confine what’s in my heart and how I can expand that. Vindo’s message reminds me that the dimensions of my house aren’t the real issue. It’s whether my life is full of love. And this can start with me—expanding my gratitude for having loving people close, and the care I feel for my family and the wonderful new neighbors we’re getting to know. THESE are the things that matter!

Two hours ago, I was panicked; an hour ago, I was exhausted. Now, I think, “This was a really cool chat!”

Have you encountered a “Vindo”? What was your Vindo-guide like? What makes a chat memorable for you?