hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


December 20, 2012

Giving the gift that keeps on giving


The desktop computer has lived to a good age and is ready for cyberspace heaven. Windows 96. It ranks up there with the Edsel automobile and cassette tapes.

One laptop was serving both my wife and me. We would work in shifts, but when an executive position came along in our church, my wife got elected and it got to be a tug-o-war. So I gifted us with another more updated laptop.

Never did I encounter a problem. Sure, I’d get spam like everyone else. But nowhere near the junk mail she was getting. I was the user who prided himself on a clean e-mail slate. Occasionally, there would be a travel ad, maybe one for the theater, but not every commercial hullaballoo around.

Just when I was coasting along smoothly, on came an avalanche of fury. I was suddenly violated.

One e-mail arrived from a woman named Joyce whose naiveté sends me for a loop. She writes, “Tommy. I know sometimes I am assertive and can be on many occasions abrasive, but do you really think I need an online store dealing with Viagra? Have a happy holiday and all the nights leading up to it. Enjoy!”

In church that Sunday, I was besieged by a number of curiosity seekers who wanted to discuss the issue in private. I was both chagrined and humiliated, whichever comes first.

“No, George, I am not patronizing and promoting an online store for Viagra. What you read from me was sent by someone else called a hacker. I’ve been bamboozled. A virus. There’s a fly in my ointment.”

In some ways, it worked as an advantage. I received an e-mail from someone I thought had passed into eternity. We’ve had no communication for more than a year. And the minute he gets a Viagra e-mail from me, he surfaces and commiserates with me.

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