She came down from the Upper World, which is what we techs in the basement mockingly called the floors of the building above us. She came with a simple request.

“Can you open my box?”

Just hearing her ask that made me giggle inside like a boy just entering puberty.

No ordinary box, this was made of that special plastic that is pliable, barely, but strong enough to deflect any naked attempts to pierce or separate it. And there was a strange metal rivet through one corner, that looked as though removing it might cause the two halves of the box to fall apart. The strange metal rivet, too, was impervious to anything short of a drill.

Even though she worked in Information Technology, apparently this box had so stumped her that she sought help. And when she needed help, she sought out us: the techs. The support guys. The “help” desk.1

At first I felt a bit condescending towards her for lacking wit greater than the designer of the box. As my co-workers contemplated strategies for penetrating this precious package, however, I gave a grudging gradual respect to the makers of this product, who had so cleverly prevented four adult, technically-savvy and educated customers from getting at the contents for which substantial money had exchanged bank accounts.

The box was, of course, a Microsoft product.

1 We were called the “help desk” even though we did not take phone calls, and some of us weren’t even repair technicians, and the actual Helpdesk was a separate box on the org chart, managed by a completely different manager, and located in a building several miles from where we were located.