Anybody want to buy a high-tech boat anchor?

by Robbie Wilkins

It’s been said time and again how computers have changed our lives. Now, having witnessed first-hand what can happen when one crashes, I couldn’t agree more.

Kathy, our operations manager, relies on her computer day in and day out to communicate with the sales force and our advertisers alike. You can just imagine her frustration when her computer finally gave up the ghost as we were rapidly approaching our monthly printing deadline. Usually our Information Technology (IT) department works feverishly to repair these snags, but this time was different.

It turns out the cost to save her computer would be more than the cost to buy a new one.

What’s the big deal you may ask? Well, initially our corporate overlords decided to give her a spare unit not previously being used rather than buying her a new computer.

It sounded good, but there was a reason this unit was “spare” – it freezes faster than the Red River in February.

My boss, who doesn’t use a computer (albeit his secretary is a pro) can’t see what all the fuss is about. He’ll often see me looking at my computer screen and ask, “Hey Robbie, what’s on T.V.?” I guess if I was him, I’d be skeptical as well.

His accomplishments over the past 39 years came without the use of a computer.

I remember when I started 22 years ago – he’d be in his office with his back to the door pounding away with four fingers on an ancient Underwood.

In its day, that was automation at its finest.

Flash back to the future. Here we have Kathy pulling her hair out because she can’t get a thing done.

She starts to send an email, it freezes. She tries to write a letter, it crashes.

She can’t send ad proofs out to her career advertisers and she’s ready to throw both the computer and me off the CN Tower.

Like any good boss would, I kindly offer to let her use my computer. I surely could get by without one for a few days.

I lasted about four hours.

All I really use a computer for is writing letters and communicating through email, but I suddenly realized that there are people trying to get a hold of me through email that don’t know I’m without a computer.


Back down to IT I go. This time I get the same spare she had tried.

It has crashed three times while writing this column and I swear I hear someone giggling.

Maybe my boss is right – we’d be a lot better off if everyone agreed to go back to the telephone and a typewriter.

Rob Wilkins is the publisher of Truck News and he can be reached at 416-442-2097.


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