Forget car trouble. These days it’s a computer crisis that brings out the hero in men.

By Catherine Eden

 

Recently, my temperamental computer launched a campaign to break my spirit. All week long it accused me of illegal activity and bombarded me with messages that my modem had vanished. Impossible! I never move the modem. I don’t even know where it is.

I phoned my friend the computer wizard who attends to my technological crises. (There are a lot of wizards in this story, so I’ll call him wizard number one.)

‘That machine was perfect last week! It’s your energy,’ he said darkly. ‘The minute you think something’s wrong, you fry the wires. Just talk nicely to it.’

I approached the malevolent thing on my desk and bared my teeth at it.

‘Let’s try again, shall we?’ I suggested brightly.

‘Can’t establish a connection,’ it replied with a smirk.

I re-booted it, literally, with my shoe. Whoever invented computer terminology must have suffered too.

‘Receiving one of 23 messages,’ it purred. ‘Oops. Connection has been terminated.’

I phoned my service provider and shrieked. Wizard number two hurried round, but after three hours he slunk away, defeated, leaving me with 30 messages trapped in cyberspace and blood pressure off the register.

At two in the morning I snapped on the light, sensing trouble. I would have greeted a burglar with open arms if he’d been after my computer, but it was still crouched on my desk, humming to itself.

The cause of my uneasiness was revealed in the morning light. Glass littered the pavement outside my gate, and the dashboard of my car lay in shards on the front seat. I’d surprised the would-be thieves when I’d turned on the light, but not before they’d made a fine mess.

Howling like a wounded buffalo, I summoned the boys in blue.

‘It’s not your day, is it?’ said one kindly.

‘It’s not my week!’ I wailed, and I regaled him with my computer crisis.

The Law put one beefy fist on his holster. ‘Would you like me to blow it away?’ he asked hopefully. Tempting, but the voice of reason told me that my insurance company might not view a claim to replace a murdered computer sympathetically. Mind you, it would have been fun to carry it out on a stretcher, swathed in a rug, for the benefit of the old lady who was steaming up a window of the retirement complex across the way.

The fingerprint specialist arrived next, and hot on his heels a monstrous truck, which rumbled up the narrow street, turned the corner and stuck fast. The sweating driver radioed for help and pretty soon the traffic police arrived with orange cones and waving arms. By now, a row of bubble hairdos packed the picture window at Shady Pines, and some energetic residents advanced in walking frames to observe the action in the street.

‘Not your day, is it?’ said Fingers as he came into the house to complete his paperwork.

I repeated my tale of woe and before my eyes Fingers shape-shifted into wizard number three. Abandoning the case at hand, he interrogated the new suspect.

‘Hmmm, it’s not talking. We need Sparks. Sparks can make any computer talk,’ he said grimly. ‘I’ll make a call.’

Sparks, aka wizard number four, crackled instructions down the line. Fingers tapped away at the keyboard until his cell phone shrilled.

‘Got to go,’ he said, and hurried off, leaving me with a semi-crazed computer and a car, smudged with silver dust, that looked like a drunk who’d gone to bed in her mascara. But at least I could drive it.

At the workshop I gave the receptionist all the grisly details.

‘Computer trouble? Hang on, my son is here, and he’s a real wizard. Mer-VYN!’

A real wizard called Merlin (that’s what I heard) was too good to ignore. Besides, wizard number five was a teenager and they know everything. I was giving him directions to my house when my cell phone rang.

‘How’s life?’ asked wizard number one.

I told him.

‘Why didn’t you call me?’ he asked crossly. ‘You know that nobody understands your computer like I do.’

Oh dear. Never wind up a wizard by doubting his magic.

‘Will you come and look at it?’ I pleaded.

‘No,’ he huffed. ‘If you’re going to mess about with all these other wizards, I won’t.’

Fortunately, no true wizard can resist a challenge. I got home to find him waiting for me, with a new modem. The truck had disappeared, but in its place outside the church was a hearse, which must have been a rather black reminder to my neighbours that the show was almost over.

We had our own little funeral for my dear departed modem and laid it to rest in the bin. As its replacement whirred into life, 39 messages cascaded on to the screen.

My computer is currently sweet-tempered, but I’m careful to stay calm under its beady eye. The moment I’m stressed, I sling a cloth over it to sedate it, like a parrot.

‘You are experiencing negativity and will be shut down,’ I intone, and the joy of getting it before it gets me absolutely makes my day.

 

Sunday Independent

Categories: General

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