Sam Venable 

Department of Irony

Step One: Beat Head on WallYes, children, there is a hell. It is called Getting a New Computer System.

Our newspaper recently got redesigned. Part of the process involved tossing out our old computers and bringing in “new and improved” (insert laugh here) ones.

I should be accustomed to this shell game by now. So should anybody who works in an office environment. About the time your equipment starts feeling comfortable, the suits decide you need something else. Such is life.

But this SaxoTech monster—it oughta be called WhackoTack—has taken the learning curve to new heights. Or depths, as the case may be.

Oh, sure; all the functions we had before are still there. They’ve just been moved, repackaged, changed, rearranged, and slowed to the speed of a drunken sloth.

Let me explain it another way:

Imagine you wake up one morning and begin getting dressed. You open the sock drawer, only to find hammers and screwdrivers from the garage.

“What th’hell are hammers and screwdrivers doing here?” you ask the geek who has been assigned to assist your transformation. “I expect to find socks in my sock drawer, not tools.”

“It doesn’t work that way in the new system,” the geek says. “Henceforth, the sock drawer is where hammers and screwdrivers will be stored. Your socks are now on the top shelf in the hall closet downstairs.”

You start toward the staircase, but the geek interrupts: “No-no-no! You don’t go that way anymore; under the new system, you can’t descend the stairs. Instead, you need to climb out your bedroom window — please note we have installed an OSHA-approved ladder for your safety and convenience — carefully step down, then walk around the house, enter through the front door, and proceed down the hall to the closet.”

Like a good Stockholm Syndrome sufferer, you follow the new orders obediently. When you finally arrive at the hall closet and reach to the top shelf, there are your socks.

Except they’re paired black-
white, brown-blue.

“Why aren’t they paired by the same color, like before?” you naively probe.

The geek smirks: “I knew you were going to ask such a silly question. All you have to do is double-click on them.”

This you do. And sure enough, the socks finally are regrouped by same color.

“But why must I go to all this trouble?” you inquire.

Duh. Before the geek can reply, you already know the answer: That’s the way it works under the new system.

Thus the humanoid reprogramming continues.

The only thing that has gotten me through this wretched week is a cheat sheet. I wrote it on real paper with a real pen. It takes me, step-by-step, through the intricate process of making a template, which I then fill with words and forward to a cyber editor somewhere. Assuming I don’t hit the wrong key and ship it to Jupiter.

Yes, the time will come when I get comfortable with this new beast. That will occur approximately six weeks before the suits decide we need an even newer computer system.

I sure could use a beer right now. Maybe there’s one in the microwave.

Sam Venable is an author, comedic entertainer, and humor columnist for the Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel. His latest book is The Joke’s on YOU! (All I Did Was Clean Out My Files). He may be reached at .