2007-02-07: Stop Touching It

Starring:

Benjamin_icon.gif Ramon_icon.gif

Summary: Ramon to the rescue!

Date It Happened: February 7th, 2007

Stop Touching It


Anderson and Associates

Frustration. That would be the word of the day. Thankfully it's only early February, and not say.. oh April 16th. That would be a disaster. Benjamin pinches two fingers to the bridge of his nose and resists the urge to smack the tower of his computer. "This is the third time.." is muttered in annoyance as his screen goes black while the computer reboots itself. He pushes his chair back from the keyboard and drums his fingertips against the desktop. He's thankful he hasn't gotten very far with the tax return.. each attempt he's made before his computer decides that rebooting itself would be a fun game to play with the accountant.

Luckily — or unluckily — there are others having this problem in the building. And rather than leap on each other and scribble on heads like that one commercial, they called someone in. The calvalry comes in the form of a sleek blue van with the initials RTS emblazoned on it in silver. It creeps up to the parking space, rather than charges, because traffic doesn't allow for anything more dramatic. The door slams. The guy grabs a big black duffle from the back, and then comes swaggering up to the building with something of a grouchy look on his face. He flashes his id to the receptionist. And Benjamin's office is first. As he appears at the door he watches the accountant's antics with the machine. His flat, growly voice, with just a small hint of his Latino accent, offers the following: "For God's sake just stop touching it."

Benjamin glances up, looking mildly startled at the incoming voice, "But I wasn't touching it!" Ah, the protest! He rises from his chair and moves out of the way, allowing room for the tech to work some magic. "It's been like this all morning. It just.. reboots itself. No error message, no warning. I'm not a total idiot with computers. I think." A hand scrubs through his gingery hair as he works on reigning in his annoyance with the machine.

The tech makes a noncommittal noise as he sits down at the machine. He watches it play its fun trick and thumps the monitor like he might thump a kid. Then he roots through a bag. He produces a CD and plugs it into the drive, then lets it slide shut. Then he starts typing things. He decides moments later to offer something in the way of reassurance. "Its not your fault." Graceless reassurance to be sure.

"Somehow that's little comfort," Benjamin comments as he tries not to hover. He's got a deadline you see. "What would make it do that? It couldn't be a virus. We have a strict company policy in regards to the internet. We aren't allowed to download, or install things from home." And he follows company policy. To the letter.

"Oh yes," Ramon says with a dark snort. "And because its written on paper, of course everyone does it. Well that's a comfort." He shakes his head. "And I don't know yet. There's also no sense getting frustrated about your deadline. You worrying about it isn't going to get the system fixed any faster." He says all of this with his eyes glued to the screen and his fingers flying across the keys, not even looking up.

Benjamin sighs and drags a hand back through his hair. "But they aren't supposed to. Please tell me someone wasn't mis-using my computer after hours.." Trying not to fidget, he crams his hands into his pockets and steps back to rest against the wall behind Ramon. "Sorry.. It's.. tax season. Stressful time of year."

He relents a little bit, looking up at last, and there's actually something akin to compassion in his dark eyes. "I'll get it fixed," he promises. "Are you one of those people who use locks his computer, or do you leave it running all night long with everything open? It doesn't even have to be misuse really. If someone in the company ignored a virus or update warning that would be all it took. Everyone's probably following the rules." Still, the fix seems to be going well. He's doing things and its not shutting down, running various programs, clicking on various settings like he knows exactly what to do.

"… Thanks.." Benjamin says then shakes his head. "I power it down at night. We keep our machines on surge protectors, just in case. But I don't like to keep it running overnight, in the event something goes wrong." Still trying to reign himself back and not hover.. "That could be the case.. I mean, we're accountants, we're all pretty much sticklers for the rules. But you could be right."

"So what is going to happen here is this. First I'll fix your local machine, but I'm going to isolate it from the rest of the intranet. So you won't be able to update anything in your company's systems for a few hours, but you'll still be able to do, and save, your work. Everyone will know when I've hit that end of the problem but right now I'm just trying to restore everyone to partial productivity." His eyes return to the screen, as if this much sociability was a little much for him. He relaxes every time Benjamin gives him personal space. He tenses every time Benjamin doesn't. He never stops his work.

"Thank you, sorry if I make you feel rushed or anything," Benjamin apologizes, and sounds grateful for what Ramon is doing. "I won't be needing the internet for anything, just office e-mail, and that's not a priority. If it's an emergency, someone can just call me. Thanks again. I know enough to use a computer, but not to fix it when something goes wrong."

"Well. That's what they pay me for." He types in a few more things and then shuts down the computer. He gets up. "K. when it comes back up I want you to log back in under your own username and password, then start trying to do what you were doing when it was messing with you before." He crosses his arms, like some manner of Sentry of IT.

Benjamin nods and returns to his seat, waiting patiently for the machine to reboot. When it finally boots and his login comes up, he enters the information and presses enter. A few more moments pass by and the desktop comes up. "Alright.. I opened Excel.. and this spreadsheet.. and then the machine would either lock or reboot, but now it seems fine. You're a genius!"

"You find better refunds than H&R Block?" Ramon asks by way of reply. This has him remembering that its tax season. He pats around at his pockets and finds his W-2 sort of folded in thirds, still in its envelope, in his inner jacket pocket. Its got a coffee stain on the envelope, looking plainly neglected.

Benjamin chuckles at the comment, "Well.. we handle people with larger finances than H&R Block." There's a wince made at the sad state of the W-2 form, but he holds out his hand to accept it. "It doesn't really matter who handles your taxes to find the refunds, but I'll be happy to take a look at it."

"Besides, H&R Block tends to charge you the amount of your refund just to help you file. It's almost a scam really," Benjamin adds.

"Thanks." Ramon hands it over. "Don't have any investments or loans or anything. Got four kids." The name on the W-2 reads 'Ramon Michael Gomez.' He makes $40,000 a year. He has worked at RTS all year long. Rather than actually introduce himself, he looks around, looking for a name plate or something that will cough up the identity of the man who he randomly asked to do his taxes.

There's a nameplate on the desk, identifying the man as Benjamin Winters. OTher than that? No other personalized effects are in sight. He looks over the W-2, then opens up a drawer under his desk. A business card is pulled out and handed over. "I can't do this on the clock or I'd have to charge you Mr. Gomez, and I don't think you'd like our rates. Not on this salary with four kids in New York City. I can take this home with me.. if you like? As a thank you for .. well.. doing your job. But I don't mind doing taxes on the side."

Ramon's eyes tighten for a moment, and he looks exceptionally uncomfortable. But he needs all the help he can get. Still, pride has him say, "Between friends then. Come over. Have dinner with my family. My daughter is the real cook but you'd be welcome." And this allows him to actually accept the help he no doubt /really/ needs.

"That's not necessary, but thank you," Benjamin says. "I really don't mind," he stresses, as he wasn't looking for anything in reciprocation. "Let me work on this first then? It shouldn't take me but an evening or so. Give me a call at your convenience."

"What's your number?" Ramon pulls out a dayplanner and turns to the W section. Then he pulls out a pen, intent on jotting down the number. Most people would just program it into their cell phones, but not Ramon. One slim black planner for him, as if the man who works with electronics still doesn't entirely trust them with what he needs.

"Here, this has my office number and.." Benjamin retracts the card and writes his cell number down on the back. "It might be best to call the cell first," he suggests as he slides the card across the desk to Ramon. "It's nice to see that some people still use pencil and paper," he comments about the day planner.

"Pencil and paper never spontaneously reboots itself," Ramon says, jotting down the cell number and then putting the card into a card holder. He actually has quite a few of them. "You can call me about your personal computers too. Free." He takes out his own card and puts it on Benjamin's desk. It has a cell and a pager number. He sticks his home phone number in the bottom. He writes neat: block numbers that are all exactly the same size and very straight.

Benjamin looks surprised by the offer of computer assistance, after he laughs a little at the comment about paper and rebooting. "Isn't that true.. thank you, for both generous offers." Ramon's card is picked up, looked over, and slipped into his wallet after it's produced. "I may have some questions to go over with you about the return, to maximize deductions and make sure you get what's coming back to you."

"Makes sense." Ramon says. He scrubs a hand over his face. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Winters. I'd better get a move on the rest of these computers." There is, after all, an entire building of tax ridden accountants. "Dinner," he repeats. "My daughter will make tamales. And then you will know what real ones taste like." And then he takes up his bag and sojurns on into the next guy's cube.

Benjamin laughs pleasantly, "I look forward to it. Thank you again and it was a pleasure meeting you Mr. Gomez." He nods as the man gets on back to working, as he has his own to resume.

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