Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: birthday (05/23/05)
TITLE: Gift Unwrapped
By Corinne Smelker
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“Dumb computer,” Jake muttered as he wrestled with the hard drive, trying to retrieve data that was long lost. “And of course, I haven’t backed it up in a gazillion years.”
Just then the doorbell rang. Through the screen door Jake saw the Fed-Ex man waiting patiently. “Package sir.”
“Package? Oh. Right – it’s my birthday!” Jake was startled – he was so enveloped in his problems he had forgotten all about the ‘big’ day.
“Sign here please.”
Jake signed and took the hefty package from the deliveryman. He cast a casual look at the container, noticing the return address was his father’s. Great! What does he want? Doesn’t he realize I don’t want anything to do with him?
He thrust the parcel aside and sat back down at his computer. He’d already called tech support who told him there was nothing they could do; he’d even called a data retrieval company who told him it would cost between $500 and $2,500 to retrieve files, and even then it was iffy at best.
Jake laid his head on his desk, close to tears. “What am I going to do? All that work – gone! And on top of it all, it looks like I will have to fork out the dough to get a new computer.” His old one had been acting up lately, but he’d babied it in hopes he could get a couple more months out of it, at least until his tax return came in.
Why didn’t I back up more often? Of course, that was every techie’s cry. Every computer geek he knew thought they were immune from the tricks technology played on them. And why now? No extra money and a big meeting tomorrow. All that work – vanished – gone to the proverbial hard drive in the sky. And on my birthday too – thanks a lot!
He got up to fetch some coffee from the kitchen, and kicked the parcel in frustration on the way over. And then Dad has to try and make nice and send me this. Probably something useless like a tape deck, or a record player – he is so old fashioned I bet he doesn’t even know we use CD’s these days.
Jake’s face flushed as he thought about his father. Always there, steady as a rock – even when he’d been away on business trips and missed some of Jake’s school and college events. Jake couldn’t wait to move 2,000 miles from his family, even though his father asked him, no pleaded with him to stay closer. “I showed him,” Jake said as he poured the dregs of the pot into his mug – his fourth cup of the morning. He wasn’t sure where all this anger towards his father came from, and he was scared to analyse it too carefully in case it revealed flaws in him – flaws he wasn’t ready to face. He couldn’t measure up to what he perceived his father wanted, so it was easier to run. Sometimes, when his defenses were down, Jake wondered whether those impossible standards he thought came from his father, came instead from himself; but he would quickly push those feelings away, it was easier to point the finger at his father.
Think Jake, think, what are you gonna do? This is some way to spend your 29th birthday! As he sipped the bitter brew his quick mind ran through a list of friends who had spare computers, or at least spare parts. If he cajoled enough of them he might be able to cobble something together, something that would work until he received his income tax cheque.
Striding back to his desk, he tripped and almost fell over the box containing the gift his father had sent. Enraged he lashed out and the parcel fell on its side with a ‘thud.’ “Good riddance,” Jake yelled, “I have bigger fish to fry than worrying about some stupid package!” He sat down in front of his useless computer, and made a long arm for the phone. “Hey Max! Jake here… Yeah, thanks man… Uh huh 29 today – big whoop… Hey, listen, I have a favour to ask…”
In the corner, forgotten by the person for whom it was intended, lay the brand-new state-of-the-art computer Jake’s father had lovingly picked out and specially gift-wrapped for his beloved son.
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