The Phone Call

My nerves are already shot after the deer incident. I wasn't ready for "The Phone Call".

I'd been at work for yet another 12-hour day...and no, this blog is not my job. I had just arrived home, preparing to go to the health club where I've been a member for a whole 3 days. So I have to FORCE myself to get ready, leave the house, try and find parking, walk inside, stare at the guy with biceps taller than I am, and flash my membership card at him which entitles me to abuse my body with these big metal contraptions - called Nautilus - named after a large metal submarine piloted by a maniac named Nemo - devices created to torture my geek-physique and generate revenue for the health club.

Needless to say I was not in a hurry.

Then the phone rang.

Under normal circumstances, this would be one of those "saved-by-the-bell" phone calls. "Whew, now I don't have to go to the health club" is what I was thinking - at first.

It was my father, who calls often to ask questions related to his agonizingly resistant attitudes about computers - and change. "This will be at least 2 hours", I thought.

He's always asking me how to do something with his PC, and I'm O.K. with that, but he's always limiting my ability to help him by putting conditions and restrictions on the questions. A typical computer-related conversation might start like this;

My Father will say, "I want to upgrade to Windows 2000, but I don't want to get rid of Windows 98 and I don't want to re-install any programs. How do I do that?" (kindly note the restrictions in the question.)

The short answer is, of course, "You don't." (the correct answer is "You can't.)

After 2 hours of arguing in this fashion the conversation de-evolves into something like the following exchange;

I'll agree to a point he's made, "Yes, the install CD does say you can upgrade when you put it in your PC," and then I'll point out, "It won't do it. I've tried it. Its not a valid upgrade path."

To which he'll retort "but it says it will."

To which I reply "It won't. Trust me. It'll just write over, not upgrade. Have you tried it?"

"No. But why would it say it will if it won't?"

This kind of argument gets nowhere fast. I have taken hours upon hours to explain that his PC with Windows 98, now 7 years old and infected with multiple viruses, needed to be wiped clean and all the software needed to be reloaded. The problem is, he's a software pirate and doesn't OWN 98% of the software on his PC, hence his reluctance to re-install ANYTHING. And, as an aside, this also contributes to his serious problem with computer viruses.

Well, my father started today's conversation off by saying, "Well...I installed Windows 2000 as an upgrade, and all my programs are there, but I can't start Windows 98 and none of the programs work."

Windows 2000 will install right over the top of Windows 98, so you have both on the computer AT THE SAME TIME. It leaves the old stuff there, and if there's room on the hard drive, it just installs right over it. Is it an "upgrade?" - NO. He just nuked his PC. At this point, an "I told you so" would be in order...but I'm a computer professional by trade, and I'm above that.

"I TOLD YOU THAT WOULD SCREW UP YOUR COMPUTER, DIDN'T I?!", I said rather aurhoritarianly. (not an "I told you so")

"Well, I can see all the programs, I just can't run any of them. Oh, and by the way, the paramedics took your mom to the emergency room..."

"WHAT!?!?! What Happened?" My voice was already loud, because my dad has trouble hearing. I yelled that question loud enough the neighbors heard me. Now I'm a bit P-O'd. Why in the WORLD did he not mention mom's ambulance ride FIRST?

"Your mom is OK, but she passed out this morning while in the bathroom. I found her a few minutes later and called the paramedics."

It seems my mom, who has been treated for many years for HIGH blood pressure, was now suffering from LOW blood pressure, and blacked out in one of the two most embarrassing scenarios you might imagine. I won't go into details...enough said?

She is hurt, from a short fall from where she was sitting to where she hit the floor. But the blood pressure being low may be a good thing. She may actually be able to get off the blood pressure medication altogether. Her diet - she's lost 100+ pounds in a year - and her exercise - walking at least a mile every day - appears to have paid off, albeit with a rather unwanted result.

Her bruises will heal, but for now mom is in bed on some mild pain medication for some discomfort in her back. She'll recover.

I'm not sure I will. I'm ticked at my dad. Don't get me wrong, I love my dad. He can be extremely stubborn and short-sighted at times like this, forgetting that maybe I'd want to know about mom BEFORE we started arguing about the stupid computer.

I suppose I should be used to my dad's weird prioritizing and continual arguing by now. The real problem is that he lives with my mom in another state - far away from me and my family. That makes for a helpless feeling when something like this happens. They're too far away to reach by car in one day, and there aren't any airports within a day's drive of their home either. So even if this had been a "get here, we need you" phone call today, I couldn't be there until tomorrow night, to help with mom or fix the freakin' computer...again.

What does this have to do with baby wipes, you ask? I needed something to clean my glasses after I calmed down. I had fogged them up, but I'm not sure if it was the argument, or the discovery that mom was in the E.R. today. The wipes were in a pop-up container next to the phone.

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