I spent my last day at work cowering in front of my computer. A red message blared across the screen: Oops!!!… Your Important Files are Encrypted. Send $30,000 worth of Bit-Coin to the following address. How had this happened? How had I managed to get a virus on my last day?
“It looks like they know who you are.” IT pointed to a line of text: G0tchuL0rnA.
I sat and hyperventilated. The scammers had my name—even worse.
“What does that say?” He gestured to a tiny squiggle at the bottom of the screen.
“Good luck Lorna. You’ve been scammed.” Oh god, oh god, oh god.
He clicked on the My Documents file. The names showed up, just as they usually did. “It doesn’t seem like they’re encrypted.”
Maybe, maybe this was something they could fix.
He sat back.
I turned towards him. “Was this a prank?”
He nodded, and I laughed so hard the back of my head hurt. I hadn’t cost the company $30,000! Co-workers said they wished they’d had my expression on video. One guy joked about getting me oxygen.
They’d said at his anniversary party that IT was a prankster. They weren’t lying. He’d once taped the HR Director’s keys to ceiling after repeatedly hiding them at eye level, so she wouldn’t look up. He said the virus prank was some of his best work and that I’d be telling future co-workers about it. And he was right—I would.
Autumn has arrived. The leaves are red, it’s dark in the morning, and I have Christmas carols stuck in my head (Unto the Lord sing praises of blessed angel name…). It also means my sister’s turning 20. Here’s why you’re never too old for birthdays.
- Cake (duh). Ice cream cake for her, vanilla with butterscotch frosting for me. This is where it pays to have family who cooks.
- My birthday is in February when winter is gray, miserable, and seemingly endless. I need something to look forward to when my boot toe soaks through.
- The only time I can sing without my sister screeching at me to stop is for her birthday. Irony is fun.
- If you have long hair like me, be careful not to fry it. I cut my bangs w/ a pocket knife around my fifteenth birthday. This would be even worse.
- I snuck away last weekend to buy hers (a mystery book and a batman figurine). I returned with a smile on my face and my hands behind my back. Mom asked if I wanted to go to the car to hide anything. I could almost see her roll her eyes.
Note: When you post about your sister’s gift the week before her birthday, be very sure she doesn’t read your blog.
Recently, in an attempt to become a responsible adult, I decided to start paying for a credit card in a joint account with me and my Dad. Little did I know that building a ballistic missile out of sticks from the woods would have been easier. If I’m not careful, this could turn into the twelve labors of credit card anguish. Here are the steps I’ve taken to settle that bill.
- Call the credit card company to set up an account that I can pay from. Be told that they can’t talk to me because I’m not the authority for the card. I need to have Dad speak with them first.
- Call again and give them my account number. So far so good, until I hear that the account won’t work because I added an extra “eight.”
- Five days later learn that the other number I gave didn’t help either. Rinse and repeat.
- Speak with my bank and find out that I didn’t need that 010 on the end—that was the check number (whoops).
- Attempt to correct the mistake with the credit card company. Be told they can’t talk to me because I’m not the authority on the card. Beg, plead, and cry. Explain that Dad has already spoken with them (see step one). Ask if they keep records (they don’t): “It’s not my rule.” Put voodoo curse on the customer service rep.
The moral of the story is never under any circumstances attempt to become a responsible adult.
I’m embarking on an epic journey, a modern day Odyssey if you will—to find an apartment. I’m wading through for-rent ads and yelp reviews. Hunting through mold problems and flea infestations in search of the Holy Grail, a clean, safe apartment for under $1,000 a month. This is what I’ve learned along the way.
- WSG stands for water, sewer, garbage—that fee is actually for something. Application fees on the other hand are for absolutely nothing.
- If someone recommends the apartment to you, mention it. You could be the person the sales lady says “I have a people begging me for apartments” to instead of one of the people begging her for apartments.
- If it’s your first time renting, you may need a cosigner—that’s what parents are for.
- Look at the apartment before you commit, that way you can see if the “fitness center” is two machines in the basement.
- It can be hard to tell if the person on yelp is bitter when they say there are homeless sleeping in the laundry room or if the apartment really is terrible. Then again, homeless in the laundry room sounds fairly conclusive.
Note: If the city you’re renting in has 111 properties, you don’t have to take the first place you see (even if the sales lady gives you jelly beans).
My family and I like to watch The Walking Dead during dinner. Nothing makes you want to go back for seconds like Rick and the gang slathering themselves in zombie guts to disguise their smell. We’ve seen 5 ½ seasons, and to survive you have to be a total badass—the kind that blows up a gang of murderers with an RPG and then says, “What a bunch of assholes.” You also need to remember lessons you learned in kindergarten.
- Don’t talk to strangers. They could be cannibals who want slit your throat and roast your leg over a fire. Hint: Terminus is not a good word.
- Sharing is caring. Nothing like giving someone a water bottle when they’re dehydrated and dying. If you’re lucky, they’ll trade you some of their seemingly endless ammo.
- Treat others the way you want to be treated. Hint: If you’re a group of cannibals preying on unwary travelers, eventually they’ll get sick of it and attack with a herd of zombies.
- Listen to teacher—especially when the lesson is self-defense. In a zombie apocalypse, this would be my one marketable skill. I’d teach you to elbow an attacker’s throat in exchange for farming instruction.
- Stand up for your friends. It’s not okay to say mean things on the playground. And it’s not okay kill people and keep their pickled heads on a shelf. That’s when it’s time to gouge the guy’s eye out with a glass shard.
Disclaimer: If you try the glass shard on the playground, it will end poorly.
I spent the drive to work this morning screeching explatives. I was running late, and I needed to get a body work estimate for my car. And in the end, the “boss man” wasn’t even there (after I’d made an appointment)—fun times. We tell ourselves to de-stress, but never get around to it. For me it’s about appreciating little luxuries—bath salts, caramel sauce, my cat’s belly fur. Here are five things I do (or should do) to eliminate stress.
- Don’t use the word should. It reeks of unfulfilled expectations and low self-esteem.
- Read—it works for me. I’m in the middle of a thriller about a serial killer who flays his victims’ torsos into 153 strips of flesh. It’s surprisingly soothing.
- Take a hot soak in sweet smelling water. Its cliché, but it works. I have three different types of bath salts in my cupboard: hibiscus, lavender, and rose. My floral don’t-punch-holes in-the-wall kit.
- Get enough exercise and enough sleep. My personal irony is that I wake up early to exercise.
- Eat extra desert. I’m celebrating Labor Day weekend with a box of rich, creamy milk chocolate bars.
- This one’s hardest. If your subconscious is screaming at you, you have to listen. That’s why it’s screaming.
If all else fails, make sure you roll up the windows when you shout those expletives.
I spent an hour with customer support this morning and still couldn’t get the problem solved. They had to call back. Customer support is Dante’s first circle of hell—the one where the virtuous pagans sit in limbo. Granted, the support workers are usually okay. Like most of us, they spin their chairs, microwave lunch, and try not to jump from the office window like Monty Python characters. Regardless, here are the things about support that make it hard not to leap out after them.
- When you’re speaking with them for forty minutes, and then they tell you you’ll have to make an appointment for another time. Ever see the movie Groundhog Day…?
- When they interrupt the hold music with a message telling you that you can leave a message. At first, it sounds like a live person. Also, it’s a trap. If you hang up (for any reason), they will never ever get back to you.
- Automated recordings. They sound like Siri, only more annoying.
- When they’re imposters, and they actually caused your computer virus in the first place. (This really happened to me once. Never call out!)
- “I’m not able to say how long it will take to complete this.”
Remember, your call is very important to them and will be answered in the order in which it was received. As in Monty Python, the window’s on the left.