My boyfriend “works with computers.” Maybe you have a spouse/partner who “works with computers.” Maybe you “work with computers.” It doesn’t matter what exactly you do with the computers. For instance, my boyfriend is an engineer. Maybe yours is in IT. Maybe you are a programmer. Maybe your wife manages a help desk. Someone close to them - a friend or family member - will know only that they “work with computers” and therefore, they are available to work on their computer. For free.
They’ll just call during the week, on the weekends, at work, at night, on a holiday. They’ll corner the computer person at a party. At 7-11. At a funeral.
“Can you look at my computer? It’s not working right.”
“I’m having trouble connecting to the internet.”
“I think I have a virus.”
“Can you hook up our new computer?”
And what can they say? It’s a mother in law, an uncle, a close friend, his father’s boss. And he “works with computers” so he can definitely fix that problem. For free.
He goes to their house. It takes two, three hours because the person who wants their computer fixed is hovering over him, watching his ever move, throwing out phrases he heard someone say so it seems like he sort of knows what’s going on.
“Yea, I thought it had something to do with motherload. Errr. Motherboard. Yea, that’s it. I knew it.”
“Why are you doing that? What’s that wire for? Why is that one green?”
After three hours of this, the person says thanks and shakes his hand and sort of laughs as he says “I’ll call you when I have trouble with this again. hahahha.”
And he does call again. Because the “computer person” will patiently explain to you how this program works or what you have to do when this happens the next time but the person is not really listening because, hey, he’ll just call when it happens again. Because this guy who “works with computers” is a really nice guy and he won’t mind if you call again. And again.
And really, most of the time he doesn’t mind. He likes you. He wants to help you. Then you call and say “Gee, I really want to get this fixed right away. Can’t you come over on your way home from work?” and he just spent all day in front of a computer and all he wants to do is go home and eat dinner and NOT sit in front of the computer. But he does it anyhow. He does it on a Saturday when we should be kicking back. He does it on a holiday when everyone is in your backyard enjoying a barbecue and you dragged him into the house to show him how your AOL doesn’t load up.
On behalf of my boyfriend, and all other people who “work with computers” and get asked day after day to fix things for free, here’s a few guidelines.
Be thankful. If he spent three hours at your house fixing something you fucked up that would have cost you $200 to get fixed by the Geek Squad, show your appreciation. Offer him a 50. Offer him dinner. Send him a damn thank you card or something. Don’t just say thanks and promise to call him again next time something screws up.
Be considerate of his time. Don’t get pissy if he can’t attend to your problems immediately. Ask him when it’s good for him to come over.
If he tries to explain what your computer’s problem is, listen. If he is teaching you how to use a program, listen. Don’t blow him off just because you think you can call him every time you are using that program so he can explain it to you again.
Don’t treat him like he’s at your beck and call. What do you do for a living? What if he asked you to drop what you’re doing on a Friday night to come over and do his taxes for free?
I’m sure computer people aren’t the only ones who go through this. I’m betting mechanics get their fair share of “Hey, can you look at my engine?” so apply this liberally.