Hutch Worries About the Technologically Challenged
27 Jun 1999
After a long, frustrating morning working with the BCPD bureaucracy, Starsky returned to the squad room to find Hutch in a snit. "I thought we had an agreement that we both couldn't be in a bad mood at the same time," he said to his partner after pouring himself a cup of coffee.
"I just don't know how much more of this I can take," Hutch grumbled. He glanced around the squad room to make sure he wasn't overheard, then said quietly over their shared desk, "I just don't think some of the senior detectives here are ready for the new millennium, if you know what I mean."
Starsky nodded. "But it ain't just the detectives, buddy. Maybe it's 'cause we live with all those crazy ladies over in VenicePlace and they help us out with this stuff, but I gotta say that you and me are far more technologically adept then the rest'a this place!"
"You're not kidding," Hutch agreed. "Just a few minutes ago, I caught Joe Baker -- veteran cop of 25 years -- putting his credit card into the floppy drive of his computer and pulling it out real quick. He did it over and over. 'Joe,' I said, 'what are you doing?' Baker says, 'I'm trying to buy some surplus government equipment for the department, and they asked for the credit card number, so I'm trying to use this ATM "thingy" but it won't work!'" Hutch sat back with a can-you-believe-that look.
Starsky sighed. "I know what you mean. Things were definitely easier in the '70's. I just came down from accounting, and they had this new receptionist there. Not the brightest bulb at the picnic, if you know what I mean."
"Starsky, you're mixing your metaphors -- "
"Whatever. Anyway, this new receptionist? He's pressing the reset button on his computer on and off, on and off. I felt kinda sorry for him -- "
Hutch narrowed his eyes. "This is a blond joke, isn't it?" Hutch highly disapproved of blond jokes just on general principle.
Starsky couldn't hide his smile. "Well...his hair is kinda fair.... So anyway, I asked him what was wrong with his computer. Turns out, he'd plugged his power strip back into itself and for the life of him could not understand why his computer would not turn on. Sad, huh?"
Hutch covered his eyes for a moment, then leaned forward again. "You think that's bad? I passed by Peterson who was hanging around the fax machine. He stops me and says, 'Do you know anything about this fax-machine?' I nod, 'Sure. A little anyway. What's wrong?' Petterson says, 'Well, I sent a fax, and the recipient called back to say all she received was a cover-sheet and a blank page. I tried it again, and the same thing happened.' So, I move closer to the fax machine and ask him, 'How did you load the sheet?' He looks me right in the face and says, dead serious, 'It's a pretty sensitive memo, and I didn't want anyone else to read it by accident, so I folded it so only the recipient would open it and read it.'"
Starsky, who'd had his own run-ins with the cranky fax machine, burst out laughing. When he recovered, he said to Hutch, "This high-tech problem isn't just with computers and faxes, though. This morning, when I was leaving the courthouse, I went to get into the Torino, and I find this very well-dressed lawyer cussing at his car, totally stressed out. Normally, I wouldn't help a lawyer cross a street, but he was cussing out a Jaguar, so I was worried about the car. I sauntered over and asked, 'Do you need some help?' The guy was near tears. 'I knew I should have replaced the battery in this remote door unlocker. Now I can't get into my car. Do you know where there's a convenience store nearby that would have a battery for this?' 'Hmmm, I dunno,' I said, taking my time to really study the car. 'Do you have an alarm, too?' 'No, just this remote 'thingy,' he answered, handing me the remote and the car keys attached to it. As I took the key and manually unlocked the door, I replied, 'There's a convenience store about a half-mile up. Why don't you drive over there and check about the batteries...it's a long walk.' Sad, huh?"
Hutch cracked up. "I've got a better one! Since I solved Baker's problem with the fax machine, he's decided that I am a computer guru. He called me not five minutes ago with some computer problem. I'm trying to help him, even though I've got a million other things to do. I ask him, 'What does the screen say now?' Baker answers, 'It says, "Hit ENTER when ready."' So, I said, a bit impatiently, 'Well?' And Baker says to me, 'How do I know when it's ready?'"
Starsky grinned and nodded. "After I helped the receptionist, he decides to ask me for some relocation advice. He's having trouble getting his car registered here. He told me he called his car insurance company to tell them to change his address from Vermont to California. The clerk who took the call asked where Vermont was. As he tried to explain, the clerk got real impatient, interrupted him and said, 'Look, I'm not stupid or anything, but what state is it in?'"
"Do you remember the last para-legal intern we had?" Hutch reminded his partner.
Starsky shut his eyes. "Oh, god, not that para-legal! Talk about two dominoes short of a flush!"
"Starsky--" Hutch warned.
"Well, one day the intern was typing and turned to a secretary and said, 'I'm almost out of typing paper. What do I do?' So, she told him, 'Just use copier machine paper.' With that, the intern took his last remaining blank piece of paper, put it on the photocopier and proceeded to make five blank copies."
"Oh, I forgot to tell you this one," Starsky said, warming up to the topic and desperately wanting to one-up his partner. "The other day one of the new data processors passed by the desk and asked me real casually if anything 'bad' would happen if he dropped coins into the openings of his PC. I kinda blinked and asked if this was something he was thinking of doing. He got kinda embarrassed and said, 'Never mind,' and shuffled away. But I ain't a detective for nothing, so I got out my trusty tool kit and paid him a visit. I opened his CPU case and sure enough, there was 40 cents!"
Hutch howled. "Maybe he thought he could get better coffee out of the computer! Hey, remember the day the server crashed? I happened to be down in the computer room, picking up some records. The new system administrator was frantically trying to restore it."
"Yeah, I don't think he's got all his melons in one egg carton, either."
Hutch sighed but didn't comment. "Anyway, he inserted a CD then needed to type a path name to a directory named 'i386.' He started to type it, paused, and asked me, 'Where's the key for that line thing?' I asked what he was talking about, and he said, 'You know, that one that looks like an upside-down exclamation mark.' I asked, 'You mean the letter "i'?"' and he said, 'Yeah, that's it!'"
"Remember that day I had to go to that car dealership to check out the registration on that BMW involved in that homicide? Well, while I was there, this big motorhome was towed into the garage. The front of the vehicle was a wreck and the whole thing looked like it had been used for rehearsals of the movie 'Twister.' I asked the manager what had happened. He told me that the driver had set the cruise control, then went in the back to make a sandwich."
By now, both men were in a great mood, giggling like kids.
"I was investigating the Fletcher case," Hutch said, "so I called the company the victim used to work for and asked to speak to the manager, Bob. The person who answered said very politely, 'Bob is on vacation. Would you like to hold?'"
Finally, the two sobered up and tried to concentrate on their job. "Y'know, Hutch, I think it's really great that we've managed to keep up with modern technology, a lot more than some of our contemporaries."
"You got that right, partner. You can't stand still in today's world! But I think we're ready for the new millennium."
Starsky got thoughtful for a moment. "I guess.... There's just one thing I still don't understand."
"What's that, buddy? You know I'll help you if I can."
"Well...it's just that...I rented this movie from Blockbuster Video. But before the movie began, a message came on the screen saying, 'This movie has been altered to fit your television screen.'"
"Yeah?" Hutch said. "What's the problem?"
Starsky looked puzzled. "I just can't figure out -- How do they know what size screen I have?"