My computer was acting funny the other day, running at an irrationally insincere pace. I updated all the overdue updates, deleted space eating infrequently used programs, ran a defragmentation program and it was still running like a drunk trying to make it to the bathroom. I was able to get online, Binged for help and found 'Speedy PC Pro' online repair service “for $29.99 – SpecialToday Only!” I get a bit panicky when my cyber link to the world is poorly, and the service was Microsoft Approved and had Verisign trust buttons and other warm fluffies, so I went for it.

Shortly thereafter, after getting nowhere with the software I'd just downloaded, (past knowing that my drive had 388 problems it couldn't fix), I was on the phone with Sanjev. He seemed a patient sort and was obviously trying to be helpful. The room behind him sounded like it held 200 other chatty East Indian repair assistants, but it didn't interfere with my ability to understand him. Post approval, he poked into the innards of my black Dell 3000 and shortly said: “Oh sir, I have some very bad news for you”. “Faaak” I inwardly gasped, remembering past computer repair debacles, and hoping this wasn't going to be another. “You have many problems with your registry, I cannot fix this for you. The best analogy I can use is that if your drive was made of wood it would be filled with termites and is about to collapse. You must take this to a Microsoft trained technician as soon as you can.” He than began recommending Staples Office Supply, where they could solve my problem for about $350 “or perhaps a bit more”.

As I mentioned, the thought of being without my computer makes me feel somewhat panicky. I had an urge to supplicate for the sake of getting back to up-and-running status ASAP, but then remembered a past situation that created a similar feeling.

It was near Christmas and our first trip to London. After arriving at Heathrow we gathered our bags and took the tube to Hammersmith Station. There were throngs of people bustling about like extras in a movie who had been told to BUSTLE! It was a long flight from California and I was spun. We collected our bags and started shuffling towards the taxi stand when a thin, squinty man in a striped turtleneck sweater and a worn dark blue sports jacket came up to us and said: “Where to Gov? Got me car right around the corner, take you any where you need to go”. “What about the taxis? Are you a taxi driver?” I replied, sounding every bit as sharp as an old butter knife. My wife Elle squeezed my arm and pulled our three year old son Chris a bit closer. “No need for alarm Miss”, our would be transport man assured: “Just providing a service, where are you headed?” I told him we were going to the Chiswick Inn on High Street. “Right, take you there for a flat twenty quid. Bettern' you'll do with those black cabbies … never know what those buggers 'ell charge ya. Likely to take you the long way round you know.”

I was about to accept the pro-offered arrangement, largely to avoid the cue and get to the hotel as quickly as possible, but Elle took me firmly by the arm, looked the man directly in the eyes and said: “No thank you sir” and towed Chris and I to the taxi stand. We waited in silence for about ten minutes and then got into a black cab. I told the driver our destination and as we took off I asked El “what was that was about?” “Didn't like him, didn't like him at all. He seemed shifty and polite in a wrong way. My gut told me he wasn't to be trusted and we should just go.” “Oh, OK” I replied feeling like I'd just traveled to Mars in the back of a pickup. We pulled up to the hotel a few moments later. “That'll be three pound ten sir” the driver chortled as we exited the cab. Elle smiled at me and said “I'll get it, my treat.”

I decided to take the old black Dell to the local 'PC Dude' repair shop. They had it done in a day for $119.

                                  Happy Holidays!



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