Steve Jobs, Franz Kafka & George Orwell Walk Into A Bar...

...And cook up the day that I had on Thursday.

For the record, I know that two of these men are actually dead, and yet they would have appreciated the positively dystopian day that was my Thursday. It all started innocently enough: I woke up in New York, remembered what I was supposed to panic about something work related and clicked open my email. That's when just a normal day became the stuff that dreams -- bad dreams -- are made of.

While I had slept, others were having a party with my Mac email. The aforementioned identity thieves got control of my MobileMe account and started emailing seemingly everyone that I have ever met that I was in London, broke, desperate and in need of money urgently. Of course, the recipients were asked to respond to a Yahoo email account that varied from my real name by the addition of a single letter.

To all the people who did genuinely panic and offer to come to my aid, please know that you were the day's silver lining. Many expected and unexpected friends offered to come to my aid. Fortunately, I don't think that anyone actually got as far as sending money, though one kind soul has had to cancel his credit card. (M.R., you have my gratitude and apologies.)

There ends the happy part of the story. Between answering frantic calls, I managed to ascertain that the thief had locked me out of my own account by changing my password. This, coincidentally made it impossible to navigate Apple's Kafka-esque "help" (don't bother us) system, which requires use of the password that I no longer had. Even if I had wanted to use the web chat system -- which I didn't -- I literally could not.

To circumvent this small problem, I had to call an Apple sales phone number -- the company no longer publishes a technical support number -- and then engage in a lusty debate with the automated call attendant. Eventually, my linguistic gymnastics got me connected to a nice but totally hapless rep in the Philippines. Since my situation was unusual, she and script were totally useless in my hour of need. Because I knew that every minute meant more pirate mail going on it's evil way, I quickly insisted on a supervisor, which got me transferred to an American with sufficient latitude to provide me with actual assistance. I'd thank him by name, but I wouldn't want Apple to retaliate. (I say that only somewhat in jest.)

Now, here comes the fun part. Are you ready? The Apple supervisor had to then use the same chat system to "talk" to a technical rep, located who knows where, that I was originally supposed to use to begin with. The fix took an hour and twenty minutes of me talking by cell phone to a stranger who was communicating by text to a third party that he couldn't speak to either. This was the point when it hit me that we'd moved from Kafka to Orwell. I was caught in in a bureaucratic hellhole in which the orderly functioning of an efficient system was more more important than a few crushed cogs while a crime was being perpetrated.

The epilogue to this ridiculous tale is that Apple's fix did not stop my incoming mail from being rerouted. Later that day, I had to endure another 45 minute chat with BRAXTON -- not his or her real name -- to stop my incoming mail being routed to the ID thieves. And when all was said in done I still couldn't send email: after all, I had exceeded my allowable allocation by spammed in the first place.