There are still some of us around who popped out of last millennium's time warp. Then only typewriters and ceiling-high machines spewing out molten lead to typeset newspapers were available.
So we can be forgiven for agonising over computers.
Like last week. Overnight I could only receive emails, not send. So I couldn't reply to a rude letter from a goose (sorry, a lady) who reckons my column sucks.
Not to worry, with box under my arm I go off to Sakkie, resident newspaper computer nerd. After a quick look-see, he tells me what sounded like my TCP needs changing.
TCP? The strongest antiseptic around, so something stronger needed? A serious virus? But I remain mum, in case I get it wrong. He suggests I tell “Kom”, as only the server can fix it.
Oh no, not again. Last time I waited over forty minutes on the phone to get hold of flesh and blood. So, another session of listening to piped music adding new depth to my big bite.
With box under my arm I slink out, thinking bad thoughts about nerds.
Back home I down a laced espresso, make myself comfortable facing the monitor and dial the dreaded number. Two rings and the robot asks what I want. I nearly reply I needed something stronger than TCP, but I push 2 as instructed. Now the long wait with the terrible tune.
Suddenly, while taking another swig, a melodious voice fills my left ear-hole. "Hello, I'm Pearl. How can I help you?" The liquid goes down the wrong hole and I go into a paroxysm of coughing.
"Hello, are you OK? Can I help you?" Luckily, the barking stops and I'm able to respond.
"Are you a real person? Not a robot?"
"Tee-hee! No, I'm very real. What is your problem?"
I try the TCP thing on her. "Ha-ha, very funny. Let's have a look at your email box. Go to tools, then accounts, then servers".
To say I battle to find the tools and the rest, is putting it mildly. But Pearl, true to her name, waits patiently. I get there at last. "There, see, your STP is wrong. Type in zero xyz."
It kicks in immediately. I thank her profusely and cheekily she replies: "So you don't need TCP after all, tee-hee".
I answer my rude letter writer. Just in time, because soon after the “send” again collapses.
Back to Sakkie. If he dares suggest I tell Kom again, I’ll hit him over the head with a mother board.