Once upon a time there was a small business. Like many others, it relied on computers and on the internet. The owners, John and Mary, were of an age not to be all that used to the finer points of computers. But they worked hard, and Mary in particular did as much as she could. Eventually they came to know a man and his son, who were both able to help them. The man advised on their computer needs, and the boy, like many teenagers, was good at installing software and generally doing things with computers.
He did work for them cheaply, as and when they needed it. One day they bought a new laptop, and asked the boy to come and install new software on it, and they asked him to supply and install some hardware, too. The task took longer than the day put aside, due to complications with their computers and very slow broadband. The boy spent three days on this, giving up his spare time. Unfortunately, as is the case with computers, not everything worked 100% when he had to leave for his ‘real’ job.
The problem could have been easily solved by asking his father for help. Instead, John and Mary panicked, and asked advice from virtually the first person they saw that day, and who generously offered to help, since she had some IT experience from her work. Unfortunately that experience didn’t mean she knew what a firewall is. It does sound rather unpleasant, so with their helper, John and Mary deduced that a firewall was a bad thing. There was also something called Firefox installed on the computer, and it’s easy to see that they should panic over that as well.
When you panic, you tend to be less polite to people than normal, so they said a number of choice things both to the boy and to his father. The boy, being young, wasn’t as polite in his response as he should have been. So, not only did the relationship with John and Mary come to an abrupt end, but they refused to pay him. The boy generously decided to forego any claim on pay for his time. But he did feel they should reimburse him for what he’d bought for them. Living on a budget himself, he had got the stuff as cheaply as possible, so their bill was smaller than it could have been.
Eventually they paid for the software, but said that as far as the hardware was concerned, they’d never asked for it and they felt it wasn’t suitable for them. The boy’s father had been present when they asked for it, but John and Mary were adamant. The boy felt that in that case they should let him have it back, so he could re-sell it and recoup some of his money.
Some months later the new laptop was stolen when the business was burgled. The worst aspect of this wasn’t the theft of the laptop itself, but instead the loss of all the hard work that had gone into designs and other information stored on the laptop.
The boy’s father felt John and Mary may have been careless leaving the laptop lying around unsecured, but he had an idea. He knew his son had most likely backed up the contents of the laptop before undertaking the work he did. (Or the tampering as it got called.) He asked him, and as luck would have it, the boy knew exactly where the data was stored. He’d put it onto the external hard disc he’d bought for John and Mary. The very same piece of hardware they didn’t want and hadn’t paid for. They had spent years running their business without backing anything up, and didn’t feel like starting because some teenager told them to.
The father relayed the good news, out of kindness despite their behaviour, but it didn’t cheer them up. However, they soon saw the value of this turn of events but were unable to retrieve anything from the disc themselves, so asked the man to come and help as he had offered to do. And what do you know? The pesky boy had saved all the important business information, and it was sitting there on the unwanted little hard disc. John thanked the father for his help, but Mary seemed unable to show any gratitude.
Whether they will now feel they should pay the boy what they owe him, I don’t know. And will they turn a new leaf and take up using the hard disc regularly?