iMac, full circle

There are little things even today that catch my breath in a paralysis of remembrance -sometimes sad, sometimes joyous – of the still palpable loss of Jaymz. There are the plates from a trip to Greece I never took on the kitchen wall, because they were from his trip, on his kitchen wall. There are shirts carefully packaged away, not to be worn. There’s the puppy on my lap who is a warm tangible tie to nine years ago.

One of the biggest little things was the iMac.

Jaymz was no computer aficionado.  He was happy with his little laptop, being able to search fashion and hair with Google, and be able to play Bejewelled for hours at a time. As it happened his system crashed, whether from careless handling or spilled beer, around the same time that my lumbering desktop died spectacularly, succumbing to so many viruses a hazmat suit was needed before it could be taken away.

I being eternally cheap was slowly trying to figure out how I was going to get a new system. He was not going to wait around, and though in early stages of our relationship had already determined that he was keeping me, thus we would make our first big purchase together. He was also most eager for me to break in my brand new, first ever credit card.

He wanted an Apple. I did not object, thus off to the Apple store we ventured. I had a rough idea of what I wanted, and the money that I wanted to spend on it. He swept in the store, stalking the cutest sales rep he could find, with a casual “excuse me, darling, we need you.”

The rep began to speak specs, and I nodded in happy agreement. He began to speak specs at Jaymz, who merely stroked a finger along the top of the nearest unit and declared “shiny…” with eyes glazed open.  The rep to his credit began speaking specs to me, and analogies to Jaymz, clearly an engineering student with a penchant for Star Trek.

Enchanted, Jaymz sought more. “Speakers, we need to make pretty music! Printers that copy and other stuff!” Cheerfully, the rep kept going with spiel after spiel.  I was impressed. He was knowledgeable. And most certainly aware that he was being flirted with shamelessly.

Finally, I had had enough and made my decision. “That computer, those speakers, this printer. We’ll take them.”

Both Jaymz and the rep turned startled. “REALLY?” they both chorused.

I nodded, sweating profusely and pulled out the Visa, Jaymz beaming proudly.  Seconds later the rep was over, letting me know that Visa was on the line about possible card fraud. Visa put me through several rounds of questions before accepting that the maiden voyage of the card was almost the card limit.

“Ooh, let’s keep shopping, you’re on a roll!” Jaymz cooed excitedly.

“No. Cigarette. Before I bring this back.”

Laughingly, he led the way, not pressing his luck. It was a cool day, which worked well at lowering my heightened anxiety. I had lost a job after all, and had no prospects lined up, and just dropped a bundle. We stood outside the Eaton centre, boxes carefully guarded between us, as he lit my cigarette; my hands were shaking so much trying not to think.  He took a satisfied drag, and sighed as if with post coital bliss.

“Well THAT was fun!” he declared loudly.

We drew the attention of a mother trying to get her giggling infant daughter into her coat. One arm would be in a sleeve, but as the mother tried to juggle her daughter around to get her other arm into the little red jacket, the devilish cherub would pull the first arm out, a wide smile flashing only two teeth as she crowed in mischievous delight.

Little Oshkosh B’gosh overalls, pink shoes matching pink turtleneck, pink bobble hair twists held two pom-poms of hair were enough to set Jaymz off:  “Oh my god, look at her she’s delicious!  My ovaries are going to burst.”

The mother turned amused and exasperated. “You think she’s cute now, but she’s been up since 3 a.m., and has not slowed down all day.”  Seeing our purchases she added “and you’d have to watch out with toys like that… what I wouldn’t give for one of those!”

“Trade you,” Jaymz said without hesitation.

“Done,” said the mother holding out the child.

“No, Jaymz,” I said flatly.

“But she said…”

“No. I need this for work.”

“But this one is available now and she is chocolatey-caramel goodness! Think what I could do with that hair! OH…my chi-chi bobos!” he wailed, pushing up imaginary breasts.

“He’s a hairdresser,” I explained calmly to the woman. “And your daughter is gorgeous – as are you. But he would take her in a heartbeat, so don’t let him have her or you’ll never see her again.”

The mother laughed. “You two are too much…but obviously she’d have a good life with you. Are you sure?” She wiggled the baby tantalizing.

The baby laughed more reaching out arms towards Jaymz. He looked at me with woe-filled eyes.

“Work now, money next, then child.”

He arched an eyebrow. “I’m holding that as a promise,” he said with a sniff.

Full circle to now. I’ve been reticent at getting a new system, as there never seems to be a good time to do so. But time is speaking to me more about the need to get a new job, and the computer speaks to me less, groaning as tries it’s best to do the simplest task I ask of it. I simply couldn’t make a decision, even having done my homework, and knowing what I wanted.

Then in the mail unexpectedly came a credit card replacement, as the old was about to expire. It was the sign I needed, so I took it out for it’s maiden flight.

This time there was an equally cute service rep, but I told him my specs and he got it from the back. My Visa went through no problem, as my limit is greatly expanded since then, and I’d already paid it off. I don’t smoke anymore, so there was no reason to pause outside. As I walked through the mall, I passed a group of eleven year olds and wondered if any of them had known they could have ended up with me as a father for an iMac.

I’d trade this new one to have Jaymz back again.

Team Award Speech

(I nominated my two IT colleagues at work for team of the year, and happily they won. However…HR forgot to mention I had to give a speech at our all-staff meeting about why I nominated them until the night before. Both being quiet men, praise is uncomfortable for them. This was the result. The colors reference is from the True Colors workshop, which we participated in.)

It is my great pleasure to say a few words about my nominees for the Team Parkinson Award: Danilo, System Analyst and Mehul, Network Administrator.

But first I want to tell you about my car.

When I bought my car, at the time I was doing community outreach with the needle exchange project and needed to carry quite a bit of materials with me. My friend sold used cars, I went to her because I trusted her, but she sent me elsewhere… never mess up a good friendship by buying a car.

Now I don’t speak car. I drive cars. I put gas in; get the thing serviced regularly, have an excellent driving record and that’s it. Start telling me you are concerned with a transmission issue, and I will have a frank conversation about safer sex and harm reduction, and get you condoms and bleach kits.

The used car sales dealers at other lots could smell the blood in the water. They talked car at me. I’m not a green, I’m not a gold. I didn’t know what to research. I didn’t know what they were saying, but I’m a blue, and I just knew that the deals weren’t good, and that I was being lied to.

So, back to my friend, and told her my budget, told her my needs, and asked her to pull a few vehicles for me to look at. Her colleagues were in tears laughing as I knocked cars off the list for the stupidest reasons: This car smelled funny. That one’s steering wheel felt weird. Another was the color of baby vomit.

The last one was a metallic forest-green coupe, sporty and sleek. I wanted to drive that car. If you’ve ever been to Mississauga there is a zone of car dealerships with a lot of cul de sacs and parking lots adjoining, which dealers will let VIP clients test drive off the street, thus outside of police notice. I had never drifted a car before but that thing turned on the proverbial dime. We got back to the dealership and the little boy in me wanted that car but the adult in me knew I had to have sufficient room for my outreach supplies.

“Honey,” my friend said “I got you covered.” At 6 feet and 300 lbs of self-described curvaceous lusciousness, my friend has heard every comment on her weight and size, but as she folded herself into the trunk and patted the space beside her coyly she not only sold me my car but another to a young couple with twins, and her colleagues stopped laughing as she filled in the paperwork for both of us that night.

Now just like I don’t know much about a cars, I am willing to bet that while a lot of y’all might know varying degrees about computers and telephones, not a lot of y’all know as much about networks, servers, phone systems, and all the other fun tools that we are using on a day to day basis, because there is never more a time that a gold, orange or green seems to want a hug from a blue in the office than when the phones or computers go down in the middle of a call, or eating that last board report you hadn’t saved properly.
That’s when you will hear the bleating cry of anguish arise.… “ARRGGGH BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH….MEHOOOOOOOOOL!”… “MY PHONE! DA NEEEEL OOOO”.

Servicing your immediate technological need is certainly not the primary focus of their job descriptions, yet both of these gentlemen not only do their best to drop everything else they are doing at that moment to help you, they both do it with kindness and gentle humour. They meet the needs of all you, their customers, much like my friend the salesperson, by meeting you at your level of understanding of technology, and never making you feel foolish about that…trust me, I have heard Mehul trying to explain technology to Sandie, and Sandie’s tech speak is limited to saying “I touched the hoogie on the whats it, and now the thingie is going eeeeeeeeeeee”.

I’m not even scratching the surface of what these two do on a day to day basis. What I will say, is while there is always a debate about the needs of Mission being the reason we are doing our job, and the needs of RD for us to be able to do that job, I nominated these two fine gentlemen, because it is a given that without their constant work both during and outside of regular business hours, none of us here would be able to fulfill the mission of serving the needs of our clients. They do their job efficiently, effectively, self-effacingly, yet effusively, with their cheerful “my friend, how can I help you” attitudes.

Gentlemen, thank you both.