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May 21

A Match Made in Hell

Do you ever feel that your computer is driving you crazy? I do. Lately, every morning after I pour myself a cup of coffee and turn it on, there’s a message on the screen from my security service with an ominous black border around it. It says: “We have encountered a critical error in your files!”

“Oh no! What am I going to do? Has someone hacked into my computer while I was sleeping? Is it going to crash?”

I immediately start looking for this critical error. I try everything I can think of. Nothing works. The next morning it’s there again: the same unnerving message with the black border around it.

Three days ago, I think, “What do I have to lose?” I click on the tab that has the list of infected files and read each of their names. I don’t recognize any of them. They don’t sound like infected files. But, then, who knows what an infected file name sounds like?

“Maybe I should just delete all of them. But, what if I need them later?” A few years ago I’d almost deleted some files I didn’t understand. At the last moment I stopped when I suddenly realized they were system files. I don’t want to make that mistake again.

Then I remember my security service. I click on the tab that says it will tell me what to do. I don’t know who wrote the instructions. They might as well have been written in Mandarin Chinese pictographs for all the help they gave me. I can’t understand a thing.

Then I have a brilliant idea: “I’ll email my security service, describe the problem, and ask for help. They’re supposed to know about these things. They said they’d send me an answer overnight.”

When I wake up the next morning I can’t wait to get to my computer and check my email. There it is: a message from George at my security service.

The first paragraph gives me hope. It is all about how he is going to help me. The second paragraph is more problematic. George tells me to quarantine the infected files and send them to him.

“Quarantine the infected files! How do I quarantine files? If I knew that I probably wouldn’t need George.”

I shoot George an email saying, “Thanks for offering to help, but I don’t have the faintest idea how to quarantine files. Can’t you just remotely access my computer and take the files? I don’t want them.”

When I checked my computer yesterday morning, there it was again: another error message with an ominous black border around it and another email from George. “No problem,” he said, “I’ve just sent you directions.”

I read his directions carefully, all twelve of them. They are single-spaced, in ten-point font, and take up most of the page.

Right after breakfast I sit down and start working my way through the list. After two hours I feel really good. I’d finished eleven of them. “One more to go. Then this will all be George’s problem.”

I read number twelve, three times. It makes no sense to me. I haven’t the faintest idea what he is talking about or where to look.

Then I realize, “I’m really in trouble now. The first direction told me to unhook my security system. Now I can’t do number twelve and I’m exposed to every threat on the web. I have no protection. I have infected, probably very dangerous files, and I don’t know how to send them anywhere.” My head is beginning to throb!

I decide to email George. I tell him, “I’m a mere mortal. I was created before the Age of Computers. Although I have a college education, a master’s degree and a successful career, I can’t figure out number twelve. Please help me!”

This morning I get up and look at my computer. “I think I’d better fortify myself first.” So I take two aspirin and drink a big glass of water for the headache I know I’m going to have. Then I check my email.

There it is, George’s message: “Call this number.”

“Call this number! Why didn’t he tell me this in the first place? I didn’t need the twelve single-spaced directions in ten-point font. The phone number will solve everything.”

I phone and Tom answers. He asks me a few questions, gives me a few simple directions and within five minutes everything is solved.

The critical error message with the ominous black border around it is gone. My screen is clear. I have no more infected files and I don’t need the two aspirin. But, I still feel that my computer and I are a match made in hell.

5 comments

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  1. Mike Murray

    Very funny. I understand the frustration of the ghost in the machine!

  2. Book Lover

    I believe that your computer’s cousin lives in my house. It’s hell around here too.

  3. Sue Remisiewicz

    lol! You captured the dread I feel whenever I get any message out of the ordinary from my computer.

  4. kook-Wha Koh

    It is very interesting story.
    I enjoyed very much to read it.

  5. Yibbity

    Where is the “Like” button. LOL

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