THE LAST COMPUTER I?LL EVER BUY

I hate technology. We bought our house based solely on the fact that it was made out of logs and had a wood burning cook stove. I quit using the microwave eight years ago. I don?t miss it.

I have only owned three computers in my life. The last one took so long to warm up to its tasks that I could make coffee, dust the loft and sort out my pen drawer in the time it took to check my email. This summer my family ganged up on me and forced me to buy a new computer. It was a quarter the price of my old one and had ten times the capability.

When my old printer informed me that it was incompatible with Vista I refused to add to the landfill by buying a new one. There was nothing for it. I would have to go where I most fear to tread. To those people who lurk all smug and exasperated behind the help buttons. People who rattle off techno speak and make me feel like an idiot who shouldn?t be trusted with a pocket watch, much less a computer.

I waded through the painfully predictable maze of number pressing. One for English, two for software issues, three for hardware concerns, four for new installations, five for warranty disputes, six for I-can?t-take-it-anymore-give-me-a-real-person-before-I-jump-off-the-roof-and-I-will-never-forgive-my-family-for-making-me-buy-a-new-computer.

A friendly voice came online assuring me that, ?It will be ok, it will be ok.? I liked him right away.

Instead of going through the misery of making me find buttons on my computer that I never knew were there, he offered to come on to my computer and make the changes for me. I liked him even more.

A couple presses of the button and a password later, all I had to do was sit back and watch while he moved my mouse arrow about and made the updates.

As parts of the updates took five minutes or more, we started to talk. He asked about the weather and sounded impressed at our recent cold temperatures.

?I guess you?re in some southern state in the U.S.? I guessed.

?No, no,? he laughed. ?I?m in India.?

Why someone in India is solving software issues for a North American company probably implies all sorts of infringements on human rights and job loss due to outsourcing, but as a techno dummy, all I could think was how incredible it was that someone on the other side of the Atlantic was fixing my computer right before my eyes.

?Would you like me to tell you about India?? he asked.

I told him I would like that very much. For the next half hour he enthusiastically described the Himalayan mountain range and how there was a place in India where you could watch three different seas flow into each other, each body of water a different shade of blue. He told me the name of a waterfall that is second only to our own Niagara Falls. They do get some snow in the north, but in summer time the heat is brutal, rising as high as 50 degrees Celsius.

He talked briefly about politics and the future of his beloved country as he saw it. As my printer sprung to life, there were still so many questions I wanted to ask, but none of them were about computers. He said there was so much more he would like to tell me, but none of it was about my printer. We said good bye, warmly wishing each other a wonderful week.

After I hung up, I thought about how for those few minutes, the world had become a very small and friendly place. I went downstairs, threw another log in the stove, slid the tea kettle over the firebox and thought to myself, ?Maybe some technology is not so bad.? But I?m still never buying another computer.

Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River country. You can reach her at contact @shannonmckinnon.com