Boomer in the City | Maybe next time things will be better

So far the year is pretty good — except for the nitty gritty detours life presents: A friend took ill, a death in the family, I tripped over a dog leash … stuff like that.

But today I’m eager to start my routine of writing several hours. I’m at my computer and the writing is going well — until, suddenly, a pop-up box with a huge message covers my text. It says that my computer has a virus and to immediately call the 800 number displayed on the screen. If I call in the next 50 minutes, the virus will be fixed. Otherwise, the message warns, I will lose all my files and copy.

I’m freaking out. It’s too late to back up what I’ve spent the past several hours working on. My computer is completely frozen.

Panicked, I dial the 800 number. A woman with a heavy accent answers. She’s in Pakistan, she says, at the computer station. Oh well. Everything is global now, I assure myself.

In a sweet, soft voice the woman instructs me to press codes and numbers. My screen is now black and I’m beside myself. It’s hard enough talking on my new smartphone, let alone trying to follow all her directions. My phone is starting to make odd sounds.

An hour passes. My desktop now has these strange graphics on it.

“Not to worry,” my phone adviser says. “It’s almost fixed. You have a serious virus. I need to know your passwords to your accounts.”

“No, I don’t have accounts,” I say. “Just fix my virus.”

I hear a child crying in the background. Coughing. Maybe it’s not a child, I think.

“Is my virus fixed?” I ask anxiously.

“Almost. As soon as you pay.”

A bill pops up on my desktop. $599.

“Pay? I thought this is free. I can’t pay.”

“You can make payments.”

“I’m not paying.”

“Then sorry, your virus will stay.” She hangs up.

My screen is black. Frozen.

I call Bill, my computer doctor. He tells me to never call an 800 number. “This is how little old ladies lose their money. You’ve been scammed.”

“Uh huh.” I feel like a fool.

“You have to be careful. That’s how they take old ladies’ money.”

He talks me through the mess, decoding, helping to get my computer working. Plus, I have to change all my passwords and accounts.

I’m exhausted. Furious with myself.

“How dumb can you be? You never call 800 numbers,” my daughter Bonny scolds. “You should know better.” She lectures that I need to be more organized.

But things will get better, I tell myself.

Next, I check for my horoscope, my Amazon book sales, my weight. I buy lotto tickets, sure that I’ll win. “It’s a matter of odds,” I tell my son-in-law.

Then the phone rings. It’s a new blind date. The last blind date I liked moved to Chile for a construction job.

“Your cousin Myra told me to call,” this one says. “She said we have a lot in common.”

“Uh huh. Such as?”

“Hang gliding,” he says.

“Myra will say anything to get me a date. I’m scared to cross the street.”

He doesn’t laugh. He complains that it’s so hard to find women who are daring and fun. He sounds like a neb. The nebbies whine. But we make a date for coffee.

I sit in the back at Illy’s on Union Street. He’d said he’d find me, and that he’s tall, with silver hair.

Now I see a small, bent-over man with three silver hairs on his head shuffle toward me. Poor thing.

He talks about hang gliding, then complains how hard it is to find “younger women — women who hang glide.”

Poor man, I think. He can hardly walk. But who knows? The mind can do anything.

Later at night it’s still warm. I hate this warm weather. The full moon is out. I don’t dare look at it in the face. They say if you do, bad luck will come.

The moon glows and I assure myself that in life there is always something new to happen.

I call Janet Frumpkin, my best friend, and complain about the day. “First I’m scammed and then I have a blind date with a nebbie.”

“Honey,” Janet says, “it’s just around the corner.”

“What’s around the corner? Death? Taxes? Breaking a hip? More nebbies?”

“Undying love,” she replies.

“Uh huh,” I agree.  “Maybe next time.”


Barbara Rose Brooker
Barbara Rose Brooker

Barbara Rose Brooker is a native San Francisco author. CW is making a pilot for a TV series based on her book "The Viagra Diaries."