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Sometimes You Have To Go Way, Way Back To The Basics

, , , | Right | CREDIT: norgeek | December 20, 2021

Back in the mid-2000s, I was technically an intern building PCs at a small computer shop, but in reality, I did everything from picking up parts from our supplier to shipping and dealing with customers and troubleshooting, and I even did the weekly garbage run.

It was around the time when many businesses here in Norway started to move their stuff from physical locations to online services — everything from banks to government functions — and lots of people were starting to pick up their first PCs out of necessity rather than interest.

I got to work and found that I had a build order for one of our basic PCs. I built it, tested it, packed it up, and called the customers as they wanted to pick it up at the store.

I happened to be at the front desk when they came to pick it up, and it turned out to be an elderly couple, so I offered to put everything in their car for them. Those cheap steel boxes were heavy back then! Apparently, they would get help to set it up at home.

Just as I was about to leave work for the day, I was called to the office and told there was a problem with the computer I built earlier that day. The elderly couple was on the phone, and I took the call.

Me: “Hi. I heard you were having a problem with your new computer?”

Them: “Yes, you forgot to include the antenna!”

Me: “I… Um, I am pretty sure there wasn’t supposed to be an antenna? It didn’t have Wi-Fi.”

Them: “There has to be; the computer says it isn’t getting a signal!”

Me: “Did you connect everything? Are all the lights on? Did you figure out all the cables?”

Them: “Yes, everything is connected. It’s just not getting the signal!”

I’m not a phone support guy, and this elderly couple did not appear to be sufficiently comfortable with this new contraption to go through troubleshooting by phone, anyway. I also knew it’d be a hassle for them to pack everything back up and return to the store, which is normal store procedure. I asked them where they lived, and it was not a terrible detour for my drive home, so I offered to drop by and take a look.

When I got there, everything looked fine at first glance… until I realized that the tower wasn’t anywhere to be found. Huh. The monitor was saying, “No signal,” because there was nothing —other than the mouse and keyboard plugged into the integrated USB hub — connected to it.

Me: “Hey, uh, where’s the PC?”

They stared blankly at me.

Me: “The big black box?”

Them: “Oh, so there is something missing?!”

I then remembered that I’d carried everything to their car, put the monitor and accessories in the back seat, and put the PC itself in the trunk. I went out to their car, found the PC where I’d left it, and brought it inside. A couple of minutes later, it was running, and I got it connected to their Internet service.

I realized that they’d need a bit of a crash course to get started, and I offered to show them how the basics work. They gladly accepted but insist on serving me dinner first. I got home pretty late that day, but I never charged them anything for it. The food was good, they were nice, and for years afterward, they’d send their friends and family to our shop to buy computers.

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