July 5, 2009

People who save lives are heroic. Doctors. Nurses. They deserve a lot of credit. But what about IT people? They save hundreds of lives all the time and in various ways. If everything on your computer has disappeared, chances are your heart will stop. I'd choose having my hard-drive recovered over CPR any day.

Then last week, I discovered an IT guy who would come to my flat for an emergency house-call. What doctor does that anymore?

Here's how little I know about IT: I didn't even know what IT stands for. I have no idea how I got by in the world before I met him - which I assume is the feeling most people have when they meet a husband.

But my IT guy is better than a husband. Here is a man who will sit with me, give me his undivided attention, and help me fix what's broken. He will answer all my questions and never get mad at me. Then, when the problems are solved, he leaves.

Before he arrived he suggested I e-mail him all the things I needed help with. I don't think I've ever opened a more satisfying e-mail in my life. Obviously, he meant computer-related but it didn't matter. The fact that someone was soliciting my woes with the sole purpose of resolving them was enough.

We spoke on the phone and he had the ideal temperament too. Patient and reassuring. Plus, I could tell instantly he knew what he was talking about. He was a specialist. After having spent countless hours speaking with customer service reps who insisted I do something that was completely useless - it was like talking to Steve Jobs.

My friends were happy for me. ""I'm glad you found a new friend," Liza said "Even if you do have to pay him."

I counted the minutes until his visit. I cleaned the house and took a shower. Then I felt something I'm not used to feeling. Anticipation. It was better than any date; I didn't have to worry about how I looked and I could be as needy as I wanted.

When he arrived, we got right to work. We went through the list of worries and what-if's and he simply responded to them calmly and said, "okay".

"May I ask you something?" He paused, looking puzzled. "How do you manage your calendar?" I reached over and held up an overstuffed Filofax.

"This," I said. "It's all written down." His face fell. As though I was holding up a scroll made from papyrus.

We moved on. For the next four hours he cheerfully worked his way through installing and reconfiguring accounts, accessing and importing - all the while explaining how to do things that probably would make sense to most people but for me, he was speaking Urdu. It's in the cloud, he said. I felt better when he said that even though I have no idea what the cloud is. What if something happens to the cloud?

He didn't appear to get frustrated at all with the questions I was asking nor with my inability to understand the answer. And after a while, I gave up trying to get it and let him proceed. The landscape of my brain wasn't capable of processing the information. At the end of it all I just stared at him with a dazed expression.

Then I asked: "Do you want a cookie?" It was like I had to touch the earth. Politely, he declined. He didn't want a cookie.

Before he left he said, 'don't worry'. Are there any two words more delightful? The only down side is that now that I have this relationship, I have to make sure not to ruin it. I don't want to push him away so I have to be careful. I can see how I'd ask one question too many. I can get by without having a husband, but not having an IT guy? That would be like not having a doctor.