The what-cha-ma-call-it needs fixing

July 23, 2011

There’s a conspiracy with computer and car technicians. There has to be. The same thing happens with both. You would think that there is enough of a difference between cars and computers that the same phenomena would not occur. But it does.

When my computer stops working, and I try to explain to the IT department what is wrong, they always look at me a bit weird. They have slightly puzzled expressions on their faces. Or maybe it is a humorous expression. An expression that is trying hard not to show laughter. After all, my vocabulary for explaining what is wrong with my computer does not go beyond “thing,” “funny noise,” “something weird,” and “it just went phat.”

Something that I have learned over the years of using a computer is that the fastest way to fix it, is to call the IT department. All they have to do is send one technician, who sits in my chair and looks at my computer. Voila! It’s fixed. It’s that simple. The length of time that my computer is not working is equal to the amount of time it takes for someone from the IT department to make her way to my office.

Whatever was wrong with my computer before refuses to repeat itself. The IT individual looks at me and asks a few simple, polite questions, “do you remember what program you were in when it stopped working?” They always ask questions that make you think they believe you. But the expression on their faces clearly shows they don’t. After all, they are sitting right in front of the computer and it is working just fine.

They stand up, shrug their shoulders, and say something very obvious such as, “well, it’s working now.” Then out they go. Leaving me with a computer that has made me look like a fool, and feel like one too.

Cars are no different. Cars want to show the world how much I don’t know. Even when I’m using the exact words that were spoken to me by a mechanic, a car will make me feel like a fool.

Just last month I took my car in for an oil change. In the check-up that always follows an oil change, the mechanic found something that needed some attention. They explained to me what it was, I paid my bill, and left. I assumed that they had written the information on the assessment sheet. So I didn’t try to remember what they had said.

Over the course of the month, the groaning noise that my car does periodically started to occur more frequently. Fortunately for me, the noise happened when a friend was riding in the car with me. Taking her advice to get it checked at the auto body shop she deals with, I phoned for an appointment. I explained the funny noise by telling the individual on the other end of the phone that it sounded to me like the car just didn’t want to work. “It sounds like it has arthritis,” I explained. How else do you describe a funny groaning sound?

Then I told the mechanic what I had been told by the individuals who changed my oil. “I need the lube joint in the front end changed.” There was a pause, “A lube joint?” he asked. “Yeah, something like that. Maybe it was a lug joint. In the front.” I’m hoping that the mechanic knows something about cars and will give me the right name. After all, that’s their specialty, isn’t it?  “A lug joint?” he asked, repeating the names I was choosing. I realized my conversation wasn’t going anywhere so I resorted to the old standby. “A thing, in the front end, it needs fixing.”

Definitely have to hand it to these mechanics and IT technicians. They are professional. They don’t laugh in your face. I’m sure they save that for around the coffee table.

I booked the appointment and dutifully brought the car in a few days later. There, I had to explain everything all over again. This time, I had to watch the expressions change over the individual’s face. Finally he just assured me that they would put the car up on the hoist and check everything. Satisfied, I left.

They never did find anything. And true to life, the car didn’t make its funny groaning sound either. They took it out for a couple of test drives and it still didn’t make a peep. Worked like a charm. There was nothing wrong with it.

Being the professionals that they were, they did reassure me that, should I hear the funny sound again, I was to bring the car in right away. They would try to send one of their mechanics out to drive with me. I would have a chance to prove that the sound was not all in my head.

As for the thing in the front that needed attention, they couldn’t find anything wrong there either.  I paid $57 to be told that my car was just fine and I had nothing to worry about.

Maybe next time my car acts up, I’ll just park it at the auto body shop for a few hours. That might work just as well as having an IT technician sit in my office chair.

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