The Child is Tech-Support to the Man


Sunday, December 08, 2013                8:01 PM

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Super-Spencer! The grasshopper has become the master! My computer suddenly decided that logging in as myself was a system error—it’s amazing how electronics can find an infinite number of ways to piss a person off—I’ve been at it (electronically) since the Bicentennial and in all those 37 years I’ve seen a lot of computer errors, but this was a new one.

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I messed around with it for a while, but not being able to login as ‘xperdunn’ (the only login with Admin powers) I was stumped as to how to fix it—Spencer came upon the scene and offered to help—what a man, huh? So, I went back to bed and Spencer worked on the problem—late that night, and all the next day, and the next… He forum-ed and he downloaded and he searched the internet—although the problem was a common one, the only people on the ‘login/sys error’ forums were systems managers—so when he finally found a fix, it turned out to be only valid for Win7-Professional, whereas I, like an idiot, had Win7-HomeDeluxe or whatever it’s called.

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Now, I’d spent years as a systems manager and I knew how lonely and desperate the search for solutions to new errors can be—the worst ones had me searching and trying and banging my head against the wall for days. At some point, I’d lose the ability to think about anything else; I’d lie awake and try to make sense of the kaleidoscope of pieces of information, trying to determine what was pertinent and what was noise.

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And here’s the weirdest part: when I finally found a fix and got the whole system up and running again, I’d have gone so deeply into unfamiliar territory that I wasn’t quite sure exactly how I’d fixed it. Strange, right? But that’s what happens. If the problem recurred, I’d almost have to start from scratch to fix the thing—the only ‘easy’ error-fixes were the ones that happened so often I became familiar with the fix.

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And, while I was a little concerned about not knowing exactly how to fix something I’d just fixed, I was still a long way from the rest of that office, the people that just hung out and waited for the Geek to fix the computer. Those folks could be a mixed bag—some resented me not fixing something instantly, some were very grateful that I had finally restored the computer, and some didn’t care one way or the other. More importantly, none of them had the slightest idea what torture a new error can be—there’s no guarantee that I’d find an answer (although, somehow, I always did). It was impossible to take a break from an error problem since it kept everyone else sitting around waiting for me to do my job—if I sat around, even a few minutes—I’d get the stink-eye from management, i.e. ‘how dare I?’

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I taught Spencer a lot about computer fixes—he was interested, so I’d walk him through what I was doing—even before he was out of grade school. We used to get phone calls from grateful parents of play-date friends—they’d say, ‘We’ve been trying everything to fix our PC and your son just pressed a few buttons and fixed the whole thing.’ It made me ridiculously proud of him—I could barely contain myself.

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But now that my brain is on permanent vacation, I can’t deal with such things like I used to. And to have my boy find a real killer error’s fix for me—I just can’t tell you how happy I am. And I’m pretty happy about having my computer back, too.

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2 responses to “The Child is Tech-Support to the Man

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