Computer help comes at high cost

By Glenda Price: State columnist

A gremlin lives in my computer. I’ve named him Elmer. We get along fine for awhile, then one day he says, “You’ve been doing really well, Glenda. Too good for my liking, so I’m gonna mess you up.”

And he does. His little attacks usually are sneaky, and more irksome then dangerous, like making me search an inordinate number of folders looking for a file I had just yesterday. When I finally find it, I can almost hear Elmer giggling.

I think he’s the one who always asks, “Are you sure you want to …?” when I decide to delete something. Even though I think I’m sure, he gets me worried.

He doesn’t understand my language, either. I’ve learned if I’m discussing roping not to depend on him to help me spell “hoolihan,” and he thinks “dally” means dawdle about or waste time. Tell that to a team roper!

Last week he decided to mess up my e-mail. I could neither send nor receive. This column goes out by e-mail, so you can see I sorta had a major problem.

I tried online help, but I don’t comprehend their language any better than they understand mine. Much of their terminology was over my head (or hidden in Elmer’s secret files) so I gave up and tried the toll-free numbers. That, I assure you, was a learning experience. The English spoken by the person on the line at the first destination was obviously either that person’s second — or maybe even third — language. I finally asked, “Where are you?” He replied, “India.” That was pretty much the first thing he’d said that I actually understood.

The second place I tried, a person in Canada answers, and that real person stays on the line with you until you’ve given them your credit card number. At that point they’ve got you captured. You’re put “on hold” and no matter how you try you never again have a conversation with another human being.

My problem was e-mail, so how did these brilliant people try to communicate with me? You guessed it — e-mail.

Meanwhile Elmer was having a great time. I swear those extra little clicks emanating from my computer were his giggles.

At last I got lucky, and an actual person came over, sat at my computer and found the problem. The in-person investigation took a long time — Elmer had done his work well.

In the end it was a fairly simple thing. Elmer had loused up my security-firewall protection. He made it so secure that absolutely nothing could get through. That’s like locking the gates to the pens around the auction barn. They can’t sell much if nothing can get into the sale ring.

Unlike those other entities, the nice guy who solved my problem did not require a credit card number before he began. So I’m thanking him by baking a batch of brownies. Everyone who knows me understands that’s a supreme sacrifice on my part. I even have a button I proudly wear that reads, “Don’t Assume I Cook.”

Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her at: