How Close to Tragedy?

March 9, 2009


When I taught computer classes, some students (mistakenly considering me an “expert”) would say, “I am going to buy a computer. What kind should I buy?”They were shocked when I said, “I don’t know.”

I have bought several computers over my life. I have never had a very good experience.

The last desktop computer I bought was a Dell. I had various problems, many of which were my fault. Nevertheless, I won’t buy another Dell. I am a person who holds grudges and tries to get revenge. (I am working on trying to get revenge against the auto dealer who sold us a perfectly good pickup truck and treated us like dirt, in my opinion, an opinion consistent with Pandemonic’s warnings about auto dealers.)

I noticed a computer store on the island. I stopped and talked to the proprietor. I will call him Papa. I talked to his [son], whom I will call Son. Papa’s wife answers the phone and greets people as they come in the store. I will call her Mom. As you can see, they own a family business. I will call them John Quincy Adams computers because their real name sounds like a different President.

I said, “I am going to buy two computers. I am going to buy a laptop because I have to give back the work laptop I now take home when I retire. I am going to buy a desktop because the Dell I bought sucks.”

I also said, “I will tell you about myself. If I do business with someone and they provide good service and a good product, I will be unreasonably loyal and keep doing business with them for a long time and tell other people they are wonderful.

“However, if I feel they have treated me badly or provided poor service or a poor product,” I will hold a grudge and try to get revenge.

“Also, I know enough about computers to be dangerous, but most of the time I am ignorant. I often make decisions out of ignorance and a mistaken impression that I know what I am talking about.

“You may not want to deal a customer with such a bad attitude.”

Papa said, “I am comfortable with that. I will sell you computers if you like what we offer.”

I started with the laptop. I worked with Son. I said I was thinking about switching from Windows to Linux. He said, “We don’t work with Linux. We would not be able to provide any support.. I am not sure we can get you a good laptop that will work well with Linux.”

I said, “I don’t need the computer tomorrow. Please look into it.”

Son did some research. He suggested a laptop. He said, “I am not very comfortable with trying to put Linux on it.”

I decided not to force them to try to do something they are not comfortable with. I bought a laptop. So far it is working fine. [This is the laptop somebody might have been trying to steal the other day.]

I wanted a laptop in part because I suffer from early morning insomnia. I wake up and write blog posts and comments. If I go upstairs to the desktop, it wakes up my wife. I can use the laptop downstairs. I have a wireless router so I can pick up the Internet on the laptop. But it the Internet was not coming through. Papa said, “The router the phone company gave you is not very good. We can sell you a better wireless router.”

I said, “Can I try it out before I actually buy it?” They loaned me a wireless router. I still wasn’t getting a good connection. Papa asked, “Where do you live?” After I told him, he said, “I will be on that art of the island on Friday. I will be glad to come buy and look at the problem.”

Without charging me any money, he came and fiddled with my connection and talked to the phone company. Eventually the problem turned out to be because of a mistake I had made. Papa said, “Test it out some more. Pay us for the router when you feel comfortable.

The bill from the phone company said Soon we are going to have better routers and better speed! Stay tuned!

After the incident with the man perhaps trying to steal my laptop, I drove over t the computer store, which is not very far away from the tire store. Often Papa, Son and Mom are all in the store, but today Papa was the only one there.

I asked Papa about the FUD message I had received from the phone company. I asked if the phone company was really going to make improvements. Papa said, “I don’t know. They don’t tell me much, either.”,_uncertainty_and_doubt

We talked about some other things. He had a big model train set in the store (not yet unpacked). I asked him if he was a model railroader. He said, “No. but Mom [his wife, not in the store at the time] is really into Christmas. I am going to set the train up around the tree.” I chuckled. I don’t know if they are religious or not. My wife, although an atheist (as am I) is really into Christmas.

I told Papa, I didn’t want to buy the router if the phone company was going to provide a better one. On the other hand, definitely wanted to pay him in some way for his excellent service. I said,, “If I don’t buy the router, I will buy something else that costs at least as much, such as a battery backup system.”He said, “I am comfortable with you keeping the router for a couple of months while you decide.”

I thought about the difference in dealing with him and dealing with the used car dealer who infuriated me.

Suddenly he changed the subject. He said, “Son is ill. He’s not really our son; he is our son-in-law, but he is like a son to us. He is in the hospital. [He named a big hospital on the mainland.]

“They don’t really know what is the matter with him. He is in isolation because they don’t know if it is something infectious. There is something seriously wrong with his liver and his heart. Other organs are also shutting down.”

“How old is he?” I asked. I was in shock. I had talked with Son a week earlier. He had seemed fine. He is a very pleasant young man.

“He is 37” Papa told me. I just turned 65. With my family history I never thought I would live this long. My father died around the age of 38 I think.

I said, “I don’t know what to say. That is horrible news. Probably I would not be of much help, but if I can help out in the store in some way, please let me know.” I thanked him, said goodbye, and left the computer store and headed out on my next errand of the day.

In my last post, I talked about someone who might have been trying to steal my laptop.

The conversation with the owner of the computer store took place on the same day. I am a little reluctant to call him and ask about Son, but of course I am wondering. I will probably send him an email this week and ask him how Son is doing. In the case of the laptop, I don’t know how close I might have been to theft. In the case of the family at the computer store, I don’t know how close I am to tragedy.


6 Responses to “How Close to Tragedy?”

  1. woo Says:

    I’m a mac afficionado, so I’m no help recommending a pc desktop or laptop, sorry. Sounds like the family running this shop are wonderful, though.

    I do hope the Son(in-Law) is okay.

  2. modestypress Says:

    Thank you, Woo. I have used Macintoshes. They are superb for graphics. I tried a couple of times to learn Photoshop, but my brain is not well wired for that kind of task.

  3. Pete Says:

    Hi Random! Being in the computer industry, I also get asked that question a lot. I tell people to find a place that gives them service like you were describing. Most of the pcs out there are basically the same, and the service you will get is what matters most. I also tell people I will be their best free advertising if they treat me right, and their worst enemy if they don’t.
    I am sorry about their son in law. I am in a similar situation, where a chest x-ray shwed a spot on my lung. I have since had a cat scan and am about to have a PET scan. It is scary!

  4. modestypress Says:

    Hi Pete,

    I am thrown into confusion and commotion by your news. I sincerely hope what they find is very little and easily treatable. I have always appreciated your comments and participation on my blog.

  5. Pete Says:

    Thanks Random, though I wish no commotion or confusion on your part. I am neither, though I guess there is a touch of commotion! ANd to add insult to injury, now the insurance company does not want to pay for further testing the doc wants to do! I have heard of this happening but never experrienced it. I am going to Cabo San Lucas in a week to forgt about it all!

  6. modestypress Says:

    OK, Pete, as an overly self-absorbed person, as my wife frequently reminds me, I need very little excuse to go back to being in commotion and confusion about myself. Any way, I hope your trip for a week is relaxing in a forgetful sort of way and forgetful in a relaxing sort of way.

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