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Ghost in the Machine

In the mid-1980s, one of the selling points that got me hired in my first position as a paralegal was my computer knowledge.  This was back in the days of DOS based word processing programs and syntax errors.

Whether it was my lack of fear of computers or some unexplained electrical impulse within my fingers, Boris, as he was dubbed by my first boss, became the ghost in my machine.

Boris has followed me from computer to computer.  Work computers only and only mine.  Boris was, at first, a minor irritation.  Computers were relatively new in offices, at least in my small town.    Boris would do the oddest things.   Freeze, lose things, not save changes…IT person after IT person had user error excuses every time.  I type too fast.  I must have clicked this that or the other thing.  I’m not saying I wasn’t at fault at times.  I am ridiculously impatient and hate the dreaded hourglass.  But Boris is real.  

 Boris is afraid of especially talented IT people.   Two in my 30 years in this field have put the fear into him.  John, who was Nigerian and had a very thick accent, would just have to answer my phone call and Boris SNAPPED back into shape.  Literally, our phone conversations consisted of me calling him directly, “Hello, this is John speaking” in his thick accent, and I would say, “ah…he’s working now, thanks John” and he would reply “no problem” and hang up.  Now there is Ethan.   I am new to Ethan, having only been at this job a few months.  But from day one, Boris has been determined to try Ethan’s patience.   If Ethan logged on to “fix” (you can’t fix Boris) issues, the issue would not recreate.  Nor were there any error logs.  Documents I didn’t check out were checked out and nothing I could say could adequately describe to Ethan what Boris was doing.  Lindsey, Ethan’s coworker, is not a threat to Boris. She has witnessed his antics but has been unable to make it stop.   She can log on and watch it freeze and lose things, but never find an error log.  She would type a ticket for Ethan but you have to understand that these things Boris does do not make sense.  They are deep down weird issues.

Friday, after seriously trying everything IT-ably possible, the decision was made to completely strip my PC down and reinstall all programs, profiles, etc.  (Been there done that in other jobs…waste of time.). Anyway, in order to do that, my monitor was connected to a new, barebones laptop so I could work while my PC went back to the shop for its overhaul.   Ethan went to the server room for other things and in 10 minutes I called him back to watch as Boris spelled-checked a document and midway through decided to switch to spell check in what I believe was Portuguese.  He hasn’t done that since I lived in Washington.  He has occasionally decided to spell check in French, but Portuguese seems to be his native tongue. Ethan was speechless.  There was nothing I could have done to corrupt Microsoft Office that quickly.   Boris was angry being tampered with and made his presence known.  

Boris likes to take me though all the steps to save and profile a document, only to never save and profile the document and lock up claiming to save a document I never even checked out.  He likes to OCR documents and decide there is a random “font error” only on my computer.   Others have no problem OCRing the same document.  And, my personal favorite, it after several months of working for this firm, Boris has apparently unauthenticated (is that a word?) me from properly profiling documents.  Truly a head scratcher.

Boris is real.  His demon presence has been acknowledged by IT professionals but I’m really tired…30 years tired…of his antics.


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