My buddy Stan called.
(Why do so many of my stories begin like this?)
Anyway, this time he was having problems with his computer.
Stan may be a mechanical genius, but he is utterly defenseless against all things digital.
“Unlike real machines, computers have no soul,” he griped.
I have been programming them since the days of vacuum tubes and I can assure you they do.
Some of them may be befuddled, others twisted or even out and out evil, but deep down in every machine, lurks a soul.
It is because every program hosts the ghost of everyone who has typed a line of code into it and when you know what to look for, there it is.
He was having none of it.
“You can’t write soul. It is something that comes with age and experience,” he told me, “It has to be worn in and you can’t do that with a computer.
“Tell me, could you put a dent in a computer program?”
“Not really, though sometimes I would like to.”
“Unlike your truck.”
That was a dig. Stan doesn’t think much of my driving.
Admittedly I have kissed a couple of curbs or maybe bounced over a few avoidable bumps and perhaps backed into a small forest of trees – and yes, after each incident Stan helped me with repairs.
Rendering my truck into something truly unique.
“It’s what I am talking about,” he said, “mechanical things live in the real, not virtual world. They experience life. They age. They get banged up and worn out and thus acquire a personality all their own. It is the essence of soul.”
All of this was very Stan-like and may explain why the man is a magician with all things mechanical, but I had enough of the philosophizing, “What’s the problem with your computer?”
“I keep getting these pop-ups.”
Through the phone, I could hear a distant voice calling from another room, “What again?”
It was Daphne, Stan’s wife. She had been eavesdropping on our conversation.
“So what do you do when you get these stupid pop-ups?” he asked me.
Footsteps crossed the house, then Daphne’s voice...
“I’ll show you.”
“No Daphne, DON’T!”
In the background Stan’s computer whirred painfully as it booted back up.
“Gee guy, it sounded like that might leave a dent.”
“Yeah,” he whispered into the phone, “it’s why I was hoping for a digital solution.”