Who wants to go to the hardware store with me? I need to buy a sledgehammer.”
Andrew Jackson stood in the doorway of the sunroom, a scowl darkening his face. His wife, Rose, and daughter Jennifer looked up from their respective chairs.
“Why do you need a sledgehammer?” asked Jennifer.
“I have to reprogram my laptop,” said Andrew. He held the computer up and turned it to face them.
“Would you look at that,” said Jennifer. “The blue screen of death. That’s so 2006.”
“Well, that IS when I bought this thing,” said Andrew.
“I could probably fix it without a sledgehammer,” said Jennifer extending a hand. “Let me take a look.”
Andrew walked over and handed her the laptop. “That would be great!” he said. “It would save me a lot of money. You have no idea how expensive it is to get a sledgehammer that’s compatible with Windows XP.”
Jennifer set the device down on her lap and studied the screen quietly for a few minutes. Eventually she punched a series of letters on the keyboard, then stared at the screen some more.
“Well, what do you think?” asked Andrew. “Can you fix it?”
“Absolutely,” said Jennifer. She paused. “Do you have any dynamite though?”
Andrew raised an eyebrow. “I might,” he said.
“Didn’t you have some left over?” said Rose. “From when you fixed the VCR in 1996?”
“Yes,” said Andrew. “Yes I did. If I can find it, which I doubt I’ll be able to.”
“Seriously though,” said Jennifer, “it might be time for a new computer.”
“No, no, no,” said Andrew. “Don’t say that! I just finally got used to this one.”
“Dad,” said Jennifer. “You can’t expect a computer to last forever. A computer gets old, and the memory goes and next thing you know something corrupts the hard drive and then all you can do is give it a decent burial on the pile of junk on the floor in the corner of the garage. Next to the VCR.”
“Do you think the hard drive is corrupted?” asked Andrew. “What would corrupt a hard drive?” He paused. “It was probably that website that popped up the other day when I was on the Google and spelled something wrong.”
“It probably wasn’t that,” said Jennifer. “It’s probably just that your operating system is so old it got confused trying to process data it didn’t understand.”
Andrew plopped himself down dejectedly in a chair across the room. “That happens to me sometimes,” he said. “This is horrible news though.”
He turned to Jennifer. “You know your mother got a new laptop six months ago and now all she does is sit at the end of the couch and mumble under her breath about how much she hates Windows 10.”
“Everybody hates Windows 10,” said Jennifer. “I’ve heard that Windows 10 is the leading cause of depression in men over 55.”
“Well that’s not good,” said Rose. “Andrew is way over 55.”
“Well not WAY over,” said Andrew. “Just a bit over.”
“It’s way over in computer years,” said Jennifer.
There was a moment of silence.
“OK then,” said Andrew. “If I have to get a new laptop, what should I look for?” He took the old laptop back from Jennifer. “And what do I do with this one?”
“You could probably sell it for scrap metal,” said Rose. “They pay by the pound. You’d probably get 50 bucks for it.”
“Well, what do you want in a new laptop?” asked Jennifer.
“I want the Google obviously,” said Andrew. “And the Kijiji. And the TSN.”
“Those things are not in your laptop,” said Jennifer. “Those things are on the internet.”
“Oh right,” said Andrew. “I knew that.”
“Do you want a touch screen?” asked Jennifer.
Andrew pondered that for a moment. “No,” he said. “I hate touch screens. Touch screens are annoying. Half the time they’re upside down.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said Jennifer, “but OK. No touch screen. What about bluetooth?”
“No bluetooth,” said Andrew. “I’d feel like a doofus sitting in the living room with my laptop wearing a tuque.”
“Once again,” said Jennifer, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Your father has a tuque with bluetooth earphone speakers in it,” said Rose. “He doesn’t want to have to wear it to hear his laptop.”
Jennifer sighed. “You can turn the bluetooth off,” she said. “On second thought I don’t have half a day to waste teaching you how to turn off bluetooth. No bluetooth.”
“Good,” said Andrew.
“So you think you know what you want?” said Jennifer.
“I think I know what I need,” said Andrew. “What I want is a different story.”
“What do you want?” said Rose.
“A sledgehammer,” said Andrew.