It’s pretty well established at this point that my dad, Charlie, is addicted to computers or – more specifically – “fixing” them. It has also been stated that while Dad is unquestionably knowledgeable in the area of electronics from the 1970s, he lacks the required formal expertise in modern-day computers and related technology. These facts, coupled with his stubborn refusal to admit his aforementioned limitations, more often than not, lead to disaster.
I wish I was making the following story up. I assure you, I am not.
Charlie’s latest forage into the realm of attempted computer repair came at the expense of a young woman’s poor, defenseless Toshiba laptop. The woman, an acquaintance from church, heard through the grapevine of Charlie’s hobby and asked if he would mind taking a look at her broken laptop screen.
One broken laptop screen? Check.
Before I continue it should be noted, as my older sister, Leigh, pointed out, those who know my dad are probably well aware of his hazardous hi-tech reputation. It is therefore likely that by the time they have come to Charlie for assistance, they’ve pretty much given up all hope of their machine ever making a full recovery. This would seem to cast Dad in the role of either the Jack Klugman (if Quincy, M.E were still trying to perform autopsies at 88) or the Jack Kevorkian of computer repair.
One fully unqualified computer technician? Check.
Estimate Time of Death
So, this acquaintance from church, Sarah (who’s name has been changed to protect her from further indignity), perhaps already aware of the potential tragedy that may ensue, handed over her laptop to Charlie and requested an estimate on the repairs.
Dad, naturally, took this request as outright permission to commence the dismantling of said machine (to see if there was anything else he could indiscriminately break) and, within the hour, had already purchased a “replacement part” on eBay, not once accepting the possibility that Sarah would or could agree to the costs. Also, keep in mind Charlie already has plenty of spare parts floating around, though this would assume they could be easily retrieved from his massive pile of computer bits and bobs without requiring a tetanus shot.
Lack of forethought? Engage!
The Island of Misfit Computer Parts
The “replacement” Dad purchased from eBay was not a simple Toshiba screen as one would reasonably imagine. Instead, Charlie decided to purchase a whole new laptop (minus a hard drive) and he would simply remove the screen from that one.
I don’t know what possessed him to think this method of repair was EVER a good idea, but evidently, after several months of doing so, he has created a steady supply of random missing components and mismatch pieces this way; an Island of Misfit Computer Parts if you will. Where’s King Moonracer when you need him?
The Tip of the Iceberg
After Dad had already dismantled one laptop and purchased another off eBay with intent to dismantle, he provided Sarah with his estimate… who then quickly determined she couldn’t afford it and asked that the laptop be returned without repair.
Lack of Forethought + Stubbornness = Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Had it not been for Sarah’s fiancé coming to the rescue, offering to cover the costs, Charlie would’ve been stuck, having paid for yet another semi-useless laptop to sit around the house. This is good news, right? Well, more like the budding Titanic of narrowly avoided disasters.
Crew: “Caption? What’s that up ahead? Is that an iceberg?”
Caption: “Oh no, don’t be silly. Why, I had to maneuver around more ice than that in my four whiskey sours with breakfast just this morning. Full speed ahead!”
Windows Vista Is Evil
On start up, I personally witnessed the Windows Vista operating system of Sarah’s Toshiba boot up fine. The only noticeable problem – and the only one requested to be repaired – was the multiple lightning bolts permanently invading the right hand side of the screen. This fact, nevertheless, did not stop Charlie.
“I hate that Windows Vista. I should go ahead and put XP in there.”
I tried to explain the problems that might result, not to mention the unethical nature of replacing someone’s operating system without expressed permission.
“Maybe they like Windows Vista, Dad.”
“They’ll also have their own files on there…”
Yes. He “Shhhed” me.
The next morning I woke up to Dad hovered over the two laptops with an accomplished grin. Turns out the “replacement” laptop destined for screen removal was a better machine than Sarah’s. Therefore, he mused, he would just put their hard drive into the other laptop.
“Look, Sarah’s hard drive boots up real nice now.”
“It booted up fine before.”
“Nah, it didn’t. Besides she doesn’t need that Windows Vista anyway.”
“Didn’t she only ask you to replace the screen, Dad?… Wait, what? You installed Window’s XP onto her hard drive?”
“So you reformatted her hard drive too?”
“Did you ask her if she was okay with that?”
“I don’t need to ask anybody nothing!”
He was asked to replace the screen.
Instead, he bought her a new laptop and wiped her hard drive.
I Learned Something Today
I wish I could say this was the first time Charlie wiped a hard drive without invitation, but unfortunately it is not. In fact, he did it to me, twice. And as they say, fool me once shame on Charlie… I’ve since learned that if you’re within a 20 mile radius of my dad, you should always back up your files – ALWAYS. Even if you’re just leaving the room to grab a glass of water. Logging out is a good idea as well. Otherwise you might find him browsing your personal files and testing out a game of solitaire when you return.
As for Sarah’s laptop? The indignant bastard got lucky again. Following bullet point tutorial #392 on the dangers of randomly wiping people’s hard drives, Dad called up his client and posthumously asked permission to delete their hard drive and install Windows XP. Leigh was right: They couldn’t care less. Feck. Disastrous consequences avoided, Charlie gets away with murder and, since everything worked out in the end, he learns nothing.
Old Cantankerous Dog + New Tricks = Can’t Teach.
Also, Charlie was so delighted with his eBay laptop purchase, he decided he needed to buy ANOTHER laptop off eBay. He still had to a screen to replace after all.
Any computer and/or Dad related horror stories of your own? Are you lucky enough to claim the famous Crossword Charlie destroyed your computer too? Please share! It’s always nice to know you’re not in this alone.