I have bugs. Ok. Not me personally but my laptop does. Little malicious malware kind of bugs the techie gurus tell me so my friend Robert has taken away my laptop to rescue me from their dastardly designs.
Thank you Robert!
I ran into Robert at the grocery store on the day of our early Christmas dinner. The sink had not yet backed up and the day was looking wide-open and full of the excitement of 23 people about to descend upon our home to share in love and laughter.
Robert was a man I knew from the homeless shelter where I used to work. He’d come to the shelter at a time when his life was looking a bit grim. A serious battle with cancer was raging in his body and he was searching for somewhere, something to divert his attention and energies. The shelter has a computer lab that repairs and prepares old computers to be given away to low income families. Robert knew little about computers but needed a new career to give him hope. And so, he began spending his time in the lab, volunteering and helping out however he could. It’s who he is.
Over the course of the next few years, Robert would lend a hand in the refurbishing of hundreds of computers, and find himself challenging the exams to become a computer technician. It’s one of the offerings of the computer lab — clients at the shelter can study for their computer technicians certification, and take the exams, free of charge. Under the tutelage of Alex and Rufo who run the lab, there’s lots of support and encouragement along the way.
For Robert, having their support and the opportunity to learn a new skill gave him a new lease on life.
We chatted about ‘the old days’ and I asked him about his computer expertise. I’d forgotten about how much he loved to chat about computers! And tell funny stories.
I hadn’t forgotten my computer was infected. HOw could I? Everytime I turned it on, it whirred and heaved and sighed and hissed and was slow and tardy in its responsiveness.
That and the fact the registry cleaner I’d purchased had informed me it was sick, sick, sick.
I needed help but didn’t feel comfortable handing over control to some unseen voice on the phone and unknown hands operating from Florida. I like the name Boca Raton but it does not suggest confidence in computer wizardry.
I know Robert. Used to laugh and joke with him every time I stepped into the computer lab at the shelter. No matter how tough his battle, how grim the day, or slim his prospects, Robert always had a kind word, a positive reflection and a cute joke to share. He always put a smile on my face.
“Are you still fixing computers?” I asked him as we stood in the aisle at the grocery store, the noise and busy-ness ebbing and flowing around us.
“Not at the moment,” he replied. And he held up the small leather bag he was holding. It was a small dog carrier and inside was Maggie, the nieghbour’s dog he walks and cares for. “Maggie’s mom is in the hospital so I’m taking care of her. Between spending time at the hospital and walking Maggie, I’m pretty busy. I want to get back into it though. If I didn’t love working with computers so much, I’d probably do something around working with animals,” he added with his signature grin widening on his face.
“well, if you want to get back into computers, I’m looking for someone to hire to heal mine. It’s really sick.” And I told him about its diagnosis and the malware that was clogging its thinking.
“Let me help,” he said which is why yesterday, he came over and picked up my laptop and is now working away on cleaning it up.
I am relieved. I trust Robert. I like him. And, I know that in giving him my laptop, it will come back to me in better shape than when it left.
That’s who Robert is. He cares. He takes pride in his work, and he always, always gives his best.
I love how life comes full circle. HOw a man I met at a homeless shelter can walk into my life year’s later and share the gifts he gained in that place where no matter who you are, there is no question of your worth.
I am grateful.