Relay: The Quiet Zone

The gift of meditation

Since my son is working on Sunday and one of my daughters lives quite far away, I don’t expect much for Mother’s Day. So I’ve given myself a gift — the gift of meditation.

It’s a skill I’ve been working on for months, but I’m having a really hard time with it. Meditation requires you to quiet your mind, but it’s really hard to quiet the white noise of a writer’s mind, even in the dead of winter when you would think there’s not much to think of.

Now that spring has arrived and finally blown in some warmer temperatures, I’ve opened all my windows to air out my house with plans to blow those thoughts right out of my head, and possibly go a little blonder while I’m up there.

But I struggle. I’ve turned to the Internet for some meditation tips, but one site took so long it froze my computer, allowing a virus to get in. A long-running script (on meditation, no less) was the opportunity for a sneaky little bug to get into my laptop.

I think it was Bill Cosby who noted that kids say the darndest things. Well, Mr. Cosby, as you well know by now, moms think the darndest things, and are rightfully vocal about them.

Last summer, my Word program, the one I use to file my reports for The East Hampton Star, needed renewing with Microsoft. I was directed to a technician with a heavy accent who asked for my phone number in case we got disconnected. I gave it to him and then we were conveniently, for him, disconnected. But lo and behold a man called back with the same heavy accent and said he was from Microsoft. Did I want to purchase the program for a one-time fee of $139 or pay $10 every month? I chose the one-time payment.

Thinking I was still on with Microsoft, I handed over my credit card information. Everything worked fine until I got my credit card bill and saw that I was charged twice for the $139. I immediately called Microsoft and another heavily accented gentleman said he would take care of it right away. But when he looked up my records he said there was no evidence that I had spoken to Microsoft and my program would soon expire. “Would you like to purchase it now?” he asked.

After some heavy meditating, I realized I had been duped and that Microsoft had a rat in its company. I believe the technician turned my information over to a crony in India, who then called me back, making as if he were the same Microsoft guy I had already been disconnected from. I know this because the crony was a bit stupid and included an email address that corresponded with a firm called Support Tech.

I called Microsoft over and over and finally was put through to the legal department. I told the woman, who was very blasé, that she had a rat in her firm who had scammed me. She said she would look into it and get back to me. Well, I’m still waiting.

One morning before beginning my meditation I was reading Newsday and tucked in a tiny corner of the paper was something about a Microsoft scam. If you thought you had been scammed you were to call the Nassau County district attorney’s office. For weeks I meditated on making that phone call. I thought they might drive all the way out here to Montauk to confiscate my computer, and though I have nothing to hide, I wouldn’t be able to work if they did that.

But finally, after some heavy meditating, I thought it best to do the right thing, so I called the district attorney’s office. After I told her my whole story, the woman I spoke to on the phone said I should download a consumer complaint form and send it in. I meditated on that for a while and realized it would be pointless.

So then my meditations focused on writing Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world, asking for my measly $280 back. He throws money all around the world but what about the little guys here in the U.S.? I cannot afford to be duped out of $280, Mr. Gates.

I also emailed Support Tech and told them that had I found out they not only had scammed me but had charged my credit card twice. The technician apologized but warned me that a terrible system break was due to hit my area and my computer would crash unless I purchased their latest software for just $99.99. Nervy little dude, huh? Optimum confirmed it was a scam.

For one minute I meditated on how I should handle this and then gave the tech support guy hell. I learned they were calling from India by the number on my caller ID. Every day when I open my Word program, Microsoft sends me a pop-up telling me my program has expired. I emailed Support Tech again and told them that since they had charged me twice the least they could do was allow me to keep using my Word program, and so far it’s worked.

Now that a new season has arrived, I really hope to get this meditation thing down pat. I use visualization to inhale while I imagine an ocean wave building toward the shore and then exhale as it’s pulled back by the force of Mother Nature. But as I picture the wave pulling from the shore, I also imagine a shark quietly swimming by and the music from “Jaws” starts to thump in my head. I might have to think about writing Mr. Spielberg to complain about that.

At the very least the two moguls should call and wish me a happy Mother’s Day. But a check in the mail wouldn’t hurt.

Janis Hewitt is a senior writer for The Star.