Be Nice to Geeks

This is a story about a guy named Ned. Ned is a geek. In his spare time he does fun stuff like recode functions in Linux. To really relax he updates his weblog with notes about his stuffed Dilbert collection.

His shirts are too big for him and there are coffee stains all over his pants. Ned doesn’t bathe much and always carries a faint aroma of BO.

Yeah, you know the guy I’m talking about.

Well, as you might expect, Ned doesn’t get out much. When he’s not sitting at his home PC, he’s sitting at the one at work. Ned’s wife is lucky if she can get him to a movie. And when she does it’s usually a Star Trek sequel.

So you can imagine how surprised you were when Ned and his wife accepted the invitation to your dinner party.

Having Ned over is always interesting. He’ll sit timidly on a couch in the corner for the first little while until he has a few beers in him. Then he’ll get up and laugh at every dumb joke your friends tell.

Another beer or two and he’ll be interrupting conversations about politics with computer anecdotes. That’s a bit annoying. But it’s also your signal to pounce.

You know that, by-and-large, geeks are an insecure lot. Ned is no exception. By stroking his ego, you can get Ned down to your basement, alone. And before you know it, he’ll be hand-picking viruses off of your computer. With luck he’ll even get your scanner working again.

And if the evening goes on long enough your dollar-store webcam will finally work.

Meanwhile, back at the party upstairs you’ll periodically pause to digest the daggers Ned’s wife is casting your way. You know full well she won’t get him out of the house again for three months. But, heck,
you got your computer fixed. And it didn’t cost you anything other than a few beers.

Well, I’m here to tell you that ain’t cool. If your neighbour were a mechanic would you try to lure him over to fix your transmission in exchange for a super-sized Big Mac meal?

If your niece were an accountant, would you expect her to do your tax return gratis just because she’s family?

No, you wouldn’t. Because you know they wouldn’t go for it. With geeks on the other hand, one thing’s for certain: they’re addicts. So they can’t say no to a computer problem. And if that means sitting at some clunky old PC in a cold, dank basement while a party rages on overhead, so be it. But that doesn’t mean you have to make it happen.

The next time your PC packs it in, get out your chequebook and hire a professional. If you really want to use Ned, or your nephew, or your neighbour’s kid, get ready to pay some cash money. And make sure it’s
not in the middle of a social event.

Have some respect for geeks. After all, you don’t really know what they’re doing to your PC.

In all seriousness, I’m Andrew Robulack.

Originally aired September 28, 2004, on CBC Radio North
Copyright 2004 Andrew Robulack