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Boo For Him, But Yay For You!

, , , , , , | Working | May 12, 2022

About twenty years ago, I was working freelance, helping several small local businesses with their bookkeeping and data input. I was used to working in the owners’ houses on old equipment or even taking work home to deal with.

One of my clients knew of a small business whose owner had just decided to computerise their accounts system and had employed a worker who claimed to be an expert in computers and accounts, but said worker had abruptly left them after only a couple of weeks, and it was suggested I might like to take over. As it only involved a few hours each week, it fit well with my other commitments, so I went to meet the business owner.

They showed me their rather old computer, running Windows 3.1, set up in their dining room, and asked me whether that was okay with me, as their previous employee had insisted they needed an office to work in and a state-of-the-art new computer for them to use, which the business could not afford.

As soon as I moved the mouse, I realised there was a slight problem; the cursor hardly moved. I just turned the mouse upside down, removed the retaining ring, tipped the ball out, and scraped a thick layer of gunk off the rollers inside. When I put it back together, it worked perfectly. The look on the owner’s face was great — to see the “load of rubbish” made to work so easily confirmed their poor opinion of the previous employee’s expertise in computers. The computer didn’t need to go online, so the fact that it used an outdated version of Windows did not matter, and it turned out they had made a mess of setting up the accounts, too!

I worked one morning a week for that business for fifteen years until the owner decided to retire.

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