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© July 2003 Tony Lawrence

Money for Nothing

Harry the Lawyer is a not so small law firm in the Boston area. That's not really the name of the firm, but if you've ridden the Boston subways, you've seen their ads.

Many years ago, they had a Tandy 6000 Xenix system, lots of dumb terminals, and I did Filepro programming and support work for them. Their word processing (a large part of what they used computers for) was Word Perfect. I don't remember now what the problem was, but a new version caused some issue, and after whacking at it for half an hour with no success, I told Harry that I'd have to call Word Perfect support. So?, asked Harry, not understanding why I hadn't just done that. Well, I explained, Word Perfect had recently changed their policies, and support was no longer free. Harry would now have to pay for support.

"How much?", he wanted to know.

I don't remember what the per incident charge was, but it was probably less than Harry's hourly rate and more than mine so, while hesitant, he agreed.

"But," he warned, "I want a solution. I'm not going to pay them money just to listen to my problem and then hang up leaving me just as bad off as I am now".

I simply could not help myself.

"Of course, Harry". I looked straight at him. "After all, they aren't lawyers".

The office, which seconds before had been a bevy of activity, went dead quiet. Harry looked at me for a long moment, and then a smile cracked his face. "Right. Give 'em a call".

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