Friday, October 1, 2010

One born every minute

Rudy logged on to her email account for the first time in a month.  After that whole computer virus debacle she had been terrified to touch the computer.  Rationally, she knew that opening those picture files was what had allowed the computer to become infected, but emotionally she felt as though she would be lighting a bomb fuse by just turning it on.  Last night, though, Daddy had left the television on and a show had come on about computer security.  It turned out that other than opening those darn files, the way Rudy managed her email was about the safest way it could be done.  She used a web-based email system, so none of the messages were downloaded onto the computer, the computer’s virus programs were automatically updated and she had the email site set so that any images that were part of an email didn’t load unless she clicked a ‘show images’ button.  Really, all she needed to do was to exercise a little caution.  So, here she was logging on, holding her breath and praying to the Great Cat for the best.

She couldn’t believe all the messages she had, and decided to create some email filters once she’d gone through them all.  From the subjects listed, she could easily send to the bulk folder most of the commerce related stuff, as well as a lot of the um, solicitations.  Delete, delete, delete, delete, delete - she felt like she’d be clicking on that icon for hours.  She wished the little box you clicked to mark messages was a little bigger.  Paws weren’t great for fine control with a mouse (well at least a computer mouse).

Here was a message from Tatum – Rudy opened it to see what he had to say.  Hmm, complaints about the noisy girl and the food selection.  It appeared that whichever human bought the cat food had been buying a lot of the one with the little pieces of vegetables in it, and Tatum didn’t like that.  Rudy shot off a quick reply, commiserating with Tatum on his difficulties.  She’d met the noisy girl a few times and thought she was perfectly nice, except for talking too much.  Tatum must have just been having a bad day when he wrote it. 

Thankfully, the responses from the Craigslist personal ad had stopped.  There were, unfortunately, several messages from the Nigerian man.  Rudy hit the delete button on the oldest immediately, and then another, but by the time she saw the subject of the last email she hesitated before hitting ‘Delete’.  The subject was “imminent starvation”. 

Despite Rudy’s gruff demeanor she really had a big heart.  The thought that this man’s children and nieces and nephews might be starving was heartwrenching.  Was it possible that he hadn’t known that the photos contained viruses, or worms or whatever they’d been?  Maybe someone had taken the photos for him and given him the disk, or put it on a thumb drive so he could load them onto his computer and they already had viruses and…wait a minute. 

In a flash Rudy realized that she’d been a bigger sap than she’d even thought herself to be.  How could a man whose family was facing imminent starvation afford a computer to send her these messages?  How could he afford the internet access?  And, wait just a minute – the photos he’d sent of his house and village didn’t even show any electricity.  Yeah, they can run underground lines, but that sounded expensive and sophisticated.  She’d been had.  Royally.  And not only that, he counted on her naivety or kind-heartedness to get her to fall for it yet again.  She clicked on delete, and then immediately emptied the Gmail trash.  She may have been a sucker, but she wasn’t going to be one anymore. 

Photo courtesy of Karen Demerly -

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