Practicing Safe Computing

30 03 2012

The computer doctor is just one more form of health care I can't afford

One day not long ago I switched on my computer and a strange thing happened. Instead of greeting me in its usual happy manner it displayed the blue screen of death. You know, the one in which it’s filled with so many undecipherable error messages it looks like a hexadecimal bulimic purge after a big meal of bits and bytes.

To fix the problem, I took the scientific approach. I turned off the computer, waited about five seconds and then turned it back on. Being highly technical, I’ve found this sometimes works, especially on temperamental PCs. Sure enough, my laptop whirled back to life, proving all was well by taking what seemed like weeks to boot. After all, we are talking about a bloated PC that came bundled with a bunch of unusable software that does nothing but take up space.

Not being one to fall for the old fat-and-happy-PC routine, I immediately started calling around for a qualified computer repair shop until I found a place called The Computer Clinic. As you might imagine, The Computer Clinic employs people who call themselves computer doctors.

The idea of a computer doctor intrigued me. I pictured this 20-year-old UC Berkeley drop-out wearing a white lab coat over a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon T-shirt, frayed Doc Martens, and thick black-framed glasses, held together by several pieces of strategically-placed duct tape. Instead of a stethoscope, the computer doctor would carry thumb drives loaded with diagnostic programs in one pocket and a stale Twinkie in the other. It seemed sort of pretentious for such individuals to call themselves doctors, but what the heck? My computer was “sick,” so I decided to give this place a try.

When I arrived at The Computer Clinic, the receptionist handed me a bunch of forms. “We need your name, e-mail, reason for visit, insurance company…”

That last part threw me. “Excuse me, did you say insurance company?”

“Yes. But that’s only for businesses that insure their office equipment against liability. You know, like water damage, earthquakes, tornados, or 13-year-old hackers employed by Julian Assange. Does that apply to you?”

“Oh,” I chuckled. “No, it doesn’t.” I walked away grinning. For a minute I thought they were expecting me to claim my laptop as a dependent.

Taking a seat in the ultra-modern waiting room, I went to work filling out the paperwork. It was obvious somebody had a grand giggle when they created these forms. I was expected to respond to questions like “Has your computer ever experienced a Trojan horse?” “Does your computer indiscriminately share data with unprotected computers?” And my all time favorite, “What public and private networks has your computer ‘penetrated’ in the last 12 months?” Such inquiries implied that my laptop was capable of sneaking out on Friday nights to cruise the boulevard with wayward iPads. I kept waiting for them to ask if I’ve noticed any liquor missing.

Once completed, I gave the forms and my PC to the receptionist. Judging from the plush leather chairs I knew my brief visit was going to cost big bucks. I went home and tried to resume my writing career on my dad’s old Smith Corona.

When I returned the next day, the doctor who had treated my computer asked me to step into his office for a private chat. “The problem,” he said in a reprimanding voice, “is that your computer is infected with 13 viruses!”

Press here if your laptop just can't say no to a good time

“No! That can’t be.” I said defensively.

“Ma’am,” the accusing little snot replied in a low voice, “Are your social media habits getting a little too socially permissive?”

“What are you saying?” I didn’t like where this was going.

“Have you been exploring some questionable tweets?”

“Ew, gross! No, I…”

“Do you know where your thumb drives have been?”

Suddenly, I felt very intimidated (not to mention cheap and sleazy). “Of course I know where they’ve been. You don’t honestly believe that I’d stick my thumbs just anywhere, do you?”

He looked at me askew.

“I mean DRIVES,” I corrected. “I wouldn’t stick my thumb DRIVES in just anyone’s… um… oh holy hell on a hot taco, I use a keyboard protector. Isn’t that enough?” The nerve of this little wiener-neck attacking my Web morals!

“You obviously don’t practice safe computing.” He tossed me a scary-looking leaflet that had a picture of a laptop with a skull and crossbones emblazoned across its screen. “I’m prescribing this vaccine program. It will cure your PC and inoculate it against further infection.”

“I can’t believe this is happening. I always thought I was so careful.” I said, feeling like some tramp who’d accept data from anyone who was willing to put out.

“Times have changed. The days of freewheeling shareware, software swapping, and bootleg programs are over.” He retrieved a Twinkie from his lab coat pocket, unwrapped it, took a bite, and then shook it at me. “What do you think this is, the nineties?”

“Fine,” I said, wondering which of my careless friends had unintentionally sent me a diseased e-mail. “Can I take my computer home now?”

“Yep. Fortunately, there’s a known cure for the viruses your computer contracted. But next time you may not be so lucky,” he said, licking the last of the creamy filling off of his fingers. He extended a sticky hand, which for some strange reason I felt obligated to shake. Then his beeper sounded, causing him to race off to the next crisis, while I stood there looking for something on which to wipe my germy, Twinkie-tainted hand.

Epilogue: I have since dumped my old laptop and got a MacBook. Turns out that PC was a bit of a hussy after all.


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Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.

For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her hilarious book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in paperback and on Kindle on



19 responses

30 03 2012

I don’t know if I can LOL because I am too preoccupied with the amount of your bill :-). I worry too about APPLE calling their folk “geniuses” but so far, they have not let me down!!!

HILARIOUS Stacy! Keep ’em coming!!!!!!!

30 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

I know, right? How can Apple call those little people geniuses when they’re barely old enough to drive? I have lint in my dryer trap older than the average age of the Genius Bar staff. But somehow they always seem to help me out. That’s because their brains aren’t filled with useless information like the entire lyrics to Don McLean’s “American Pie.” If I could just purge that from my head I’d have so much free space in there.

30 03 2012
The Waiting

I bet HAL’s doctor was much more discrete and non-judgmental.

30 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

Yes, but I bet HAL’s doctor treats only famous computers like The Flux Capacitor from “Back to the Future” and the Proton Gun from “Ghostbusters.” And I bet he won’t bill insurance directly. I’m just guessin’.

30 03 2012
The Waiting

And Watson and Deep Blue! Yeah, you have to know someone to get an appointment there!

30 03 2012
Dr. Mom

The entire time I am reading your post, I’m thinking, “She should just get a Mac after all is said and done”. I certainly did, and I never looked back.

Great post!

30 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

Well, as you can see from the epilogue, that’s exactly what I did. And you’re right! I have never looked back since! I love my Mac and have no regrets bidding farewell to Microsoft!

31 03 2012

AHAHAHAHAH!! Love this one! Was laughing out loud the whole time. Good thing you got a Mac. They’re a lot less promiscuous!

5 04 2012
Stacy Dymalski

That’s because Macs do what they’re told. 😉

31 03 2012

The MacBook is the way to go. Enjoy your new dependent! 🙂

5 04 2012
Stacy Dymalski

I certainly have been. Once I switched over from PC to Mac I felt like a blind person who could suddenly see!

31 03 2012
Dee Macaluso

So funny, Stacy! Once again I am suffering from MacEnvy.

5 04 2012
Stacy Dymalski

Just tell Bob that having a Mac is so PC (politically correct).

1 04 2012

Well worth waiting for (i did wonder where your posts had gone and was eagery anticipating a new one) great post 🙂

5 04 2012
Stacy Dymalski

Thanks so much, Lea! I appreciate your kind comment about my writing. This has been a busy week, so I’m a little off schedule on my posts. I usually post only once a week (on Mondays), but last week I actually had time to post twice (a rarity!) so that’s why I cut myself some slack this week. Next week I hope to be back on track again!

With a nice fan like you, it makes me want to try harder to keep those funny posts coming on time! Thanks!

1 04 2012

I’m sure the Republicans would have required you to get a trans-vaginal ultrasound on your computer before anything could be done for it. To think of all those unwanted PC’s out there just looking for love brings tears to my eyes. But, I’m with you, I went for the white, blonde-haired and blue-eyed Mac.

5 04 2012
Stacy Dymalski

Yes, those cute little Macs are the darlings of the laptop world. Mine has a adorable pink dust cover. And they’re so demure…not like those slutty PCs.

3 04 2012

Mac’s are amazing I just wish they would support their older models. Just wait until that Mac breaks.. you don’t fix a mac you buy the shiny new one!

5 04 2012
Stacy Dymalski

I noticed that. Hardly anyone seems to own an older Mac. They buy new ones every so many years. What’s the expiration date on a Mac? When are you supposed to upgrade to a new one?

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