2004/05/12

The Galoot and Randy Show - Episode 2

(Warning: There's nothing amusing in this post. Feel free to read someone else's blog instead. Arsi's is pretty funny, hb's got some good news, and Grimtooth's... well... Arsi's is pretty funny.)

I got an e-mail from Randy a while back.

"Diane tells me you're looking to upgrade your computer. Let me know what you're interested in and maybe I can get you a deal."

I answer back: "Sure. All I need is a new processor, motherboard, RAM, hard drive, power supply, graphics card, OS... What I need is an entirely new system, because this machine's not worth the money it would cost to upgrade. And we're broke. Not just a little broke, either. Moss is growing on my checkbook. I'd planned on calling you first once I had the money saved for all the parts I want, but that probably won't happen until, oh... 2005 or so."

And I send him the specs on my machine (knowing it'll get a laugh) and the list of parts I've been lusting after and plan to buy in a year or two once I figure out a risk-free way to rob the convenience store.

I don't hear back from him, but I didn't really expect to. We've e-mailed only once in the past few months. He may be a geek, but he deals with computer-losers all day, every day, for a living. I don't think reading e-mail is his idea of relaxing, and I don't blame him.

A week or so later Randy and Di drop by for a visit. This is a big deal. Randy doesn't visit. Neither do I. We're not really "friends" yet, either, but I amazingly don't mind the idea all that much. So I haul my ass downstairs to the kitchen and we all sit down for a coffee.

We're all sitting around the table, shouting to be heard over the kids and dogs and we start talking about what a pain in the ass people who expect free support are. He tells us about one of his customers who never pays. At the moment she owes something like $500, and she still calls for help. I tell him about my dad and how I must have spent over 100 hours with him before cutting him off. Randy tells me about his neighbor, who comes knocking on the door for support at strange hours. He helped the guy, then quoted a price, and the guy looked at him like he was from Mars. "But we're neighbors!" Randy says, "But it's my job and you know it. I don't ask you for free dental work."

The conversation drifts to how he got into the business of building and supporting computers ten years ago or so.

"...and Di and I are in the restaurant, and we're trying to get the courage up to ask one of our moms for a start-up loan for advertising and equipment. We finally decide it's not going to happen for such and such a reason. I'm feeling really down because I hate what I'm doing and I'm not making enough to get things rolling in a home-based business.

"It's time to leave, so Di gets up to go to the bathroom before we go. And this guy at the table behind me turns around and says, 'Excuse me. I overheard the two of you talking. Would $500 help?' I turn around and look at this guy like he's on drugs. I don't know him from Adam.

"He says, 'I don't have the money on me, but here's my address. Stop by tomorrow and we'll talk.' And he scrawls his info on a napkin and hands it to me, then goes back to his meal."

Listening to this, Jaq and I are rapt. This is like one of those feel-good movie plots I hate so much. I say, "This is like one of those feel-good movie plots I hate so much."

Randy says, "Yeah. I thought so, too. But I was sure curious. So Di and I talked about it that night and we decided I had nothing to lose. The next day I drive over to his house. He answers the door and ushers me in. His wife is sitting at the kitchen table. She looks up at me and says, 'What's your name?' so I tell her. She writes it down, tears a check out of her checkbook and hands it to me. I'm in shock! I look at her, look at the check, look at him... I don't know what to do. I say, 'I don't know when I'll be able to pay you back. I don't even know if the business will...' and he cuts me off in mid-sentence. 'Pay it back whenever you want. Do it in a month, do it in ten years. No sweat. And don't start talking about interest. Don't want any.'

"I ask him why and..."

And the story goes on. Google for "Pay It Forward" if you don't know the concept. It'll save me some typing. (Note to self: Maybe I'll rent the movie.)

Randy put all the money into a little classified ad for six months, and by the time half a year had passed he'd gotten enough work to quit his job. He paid the guy back, of course.

I look at Jaq and she looks at me. Then I look at Randy and say, "Cool, Randy. But..." and he cuts me off. He says, "I had a customer last month that changed what he wanted in mid-order, after the parts to build his machine had already been shipped. Now they're sitting and gathering dust. I've got..." and he lists a bunch of parts. "All it needs to make it complete is a CPU and some RAM. If you can get the money together so I can order those, you can have it all for the price I paid."

He gets his stuff wholesale, for a lot less than I would have to pay.

"Randy, you could build the machine yourself and sell it for double the price you just quoted."

He just looks at me and smiles.

"Randy, I can't get that much money together in anything like a reasonable time. That's why I didn't call you for those parts in the first place."

He just looks at me and smiles.

"Randy, you just spent the first half hour telling me about how you hate doing stuff for free."

He just looks at me and says, "You never asked for anything for free." Then he smiles again.

I should be getting my check tomorrow or the next day. At that point, Randy'll order the CPU and RAM. In another week or so I'll have a brand spanking new machine built with my own hands and the goodwill of someone who I'm only just getting to know as a friend.

I think I'll paint pink flowers and bouncing kittens on the case. Not really, but if I don't end this story on a stupid and sarcastic note nobody will believe I wrote it.
Comments:
That is very cool!

Please don't rent the movie "Pay It Forward" It is an abomination. The book was brilliant, inspiring, and entertaining. The movie (big shock) managed to strip all of that and turn it into a romantic drama with a tragic ending, completely burying the whole point of the book, in pure shit.

Damn, maybe I should write about this in my blog, instead of taking up all your space. :)
 
That's awesome news, Loot. And a great story. I had to take a break at the 2/3 mark, though... I couldn't read it in one go, for all the tearing up. And I had to pee.

I'll bet you're feeling similar to how I felt last weekend, being the recipient of a geek's goodwill and generosity (okay, yeah, so your geek may just be recouping costs, but as you mentioned, he could've profited, and chooses not to, for your sake).

Power to the Pocket Protector People. That truly is a gesture of friendship, if ever there was one.
 
Episode 2 was AS heartwarming as Episode 1--which, as we all know, is rarely the case.

Galoot, I think you just may have found yourself a friend. Of course, if you are like me, you'll proceed... oh so slowly... and with great caution. ;)
 
I thought I was the only one who got phone calls at 2 am from people looking for tech support for free.

Lilwolf did this for me too, so did knightkat (lil with a camera and knightkat with scanner and printer). I wish I had something worthy to give away or money to do the same for someone. What a wondeful gesture.

Enjoy the new computer. Can I have your old one? lol :)
 
Jago, when I read your blog entry I knew exactly what you were talking about. It ain't the money, it's the gesture. Well, in my case it's also the "oh, you're poor, let me help you out" pity, but you know. :D

(That's a joke. I know that's not what motivated him.)

Friends are cool becuse they give you stuff. I should never have lost sight of this important thought.
 
Galoot, I'm deeply moved by the important lesson you've taken from all of this. Friends are indeed cool cause they give you stuff.
 
dangit, there you go inspiring me to do something nice for my friends. like I don't have enough to do. sheesh. ;-)

-kitten
 
So does this mean if I'm nice to you, I'll win a billion dollars in the lottery. Seems pretty even.

-h
 
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