Last week I surrendered my somewhat venerable but still highly capable desktop computer for repair. I should have had it back within three days, but as always in such matters, the time line began to stretch. Today marked seven days since I waved au revoir to my little black box…it was time to reclaim my property.
Fazer, the chief nerd at ‘Goofy Gigabytes’ (our local computer repair store) wasn't at work as he had promised, but Igor, his dungeon-dwelling deputy, was. Igor is dirty, a bit smelly, grows spuds in his teeth and looks repulsive from anything less than two or three kilometres. He also sounds as if he is caught in some type of slow-motion machine and speaks very carefully, while managing to lisp and slur almost all of his words. He has galloping dandruff and the grime from several years underneath his fingernails.
He was very excited to show me that he was doing software updates on the computer, so I gently asked him to stop them so I could collect it and take it home (having arranged so to do), which he duly did. Then, with even more excitement, he announced that he had upgraded the RAM, so the computer would be faster now. The fact that it is quite fast enough for what I use it for, and that I had never even got close to the subject of upgrading anything (not even the RAM) in any conversation with anyone in the shop, seemed to have been overlooked. I bided my time while Igor painstakingly made up my invoice (he types with one stubby, dirty finger and at the speed of an advancing glacier) and had a few tries at printing it out.
As the invoice was placed before me, the cost of $168 was proudly proclaimed. Not unreasonably, I asked how we had gone from an original quote of $120 to $168…sure enough, it transpired that we had been charged for the new RAM. Politely, calmly but with a note of "don't fuck with me, little grease mark" in my voice, I pointed out that (and my best English voice implied a "Look hear, little man..." at the start of the sentence) in my opinion, doing unsolicited work on my computer and then trying to charge me for it was really not cricket. Igor tried to argue with me, however he was always going to be on the back foot, and within thirty seconds of my gentle yet determined insistence (not discounting my laser beam eyes which were boring a hole through his cranial bones), threw up his hands in an exaggerated, nerdy fashion and declared that alright then, if that was how it was going to be, he would take off the cost of the RAM and that he really didn't have time for ‘this’.
Clearly, however, while he did not have time for a customer pointing out a nice little scam, what he did have time for was trying to skim an extra thirty bucks from me for work I had neither requested nor sanctioned. Despite the rising levels of adrenalin, testosterone and curmudgeonliness ( I just invented that word: copyright – me) in my bloodstream, I decided not to wipe the floor with his head as it would only have made the floor more unclean and sticky, and I didn’t want to have to look at his open mouth as he screamed.
The older lady who had entered the shop a minute or two earlier and who had been silently eavesdropping (it wasn't difficult and I wholeheartedly wanted her to hear anyway) then quietly took a couple of paces backwards towards the exit in order to avoid any forthcoming shrapnel or body parts, however I’m pleased to report that I remained calm and quiet while Igor set about first amending and then printing (after another couple of failed attempts to send it to the printer and much dramatic and inappropriate moaning and gesticulating at the screen) a new invoice for me. Five minutes later, he succeeded. This was a man who had allegedly been fixing my computer…
Having handed over $150, (a by now impressively vibrating) Igor found that Fazer had failed to leave him any change, so for the sake of a few dollars – and the health of my dog waiting in the car outside - I decided to throw him a crumb and called it quits. Having explained that if he wanted to try to stiff someone he was better off not trying it with me, and that while Fazer may be his boss but when it comes to MY computer, I am the boss, I subsequently left clutching our computer in my sweaty mitts, and a shaking geek-nerd in my wake, with not a mark on him. And free RAM!
You would have been proud of me.