On Saturday morning in Spring Hill, when I saw the flag at half-staff at Chick-fil-A, my immediate reaction was that it was lowered for Jim Cochran.
Then I recalled that long-tenured Michigan Congressman John Dingell had died on Thursday.
On Friday and Saturday, a lot of Spring Hill and Thompson Station residents were stunned and saddened to learn that Jim had passed away, taken from us much too soon
after waging a battle against cancer. It seemed appropriate that areas flags would droop in mourning.
My computer paramedic
Jim and his wonderful wife, Barb, have been the owners and operators of Big Dog Computer Services located on Main Street in Spring Hill for more than a decade. I actually met Jim before they opened their store, back when he was making house calls and repairing computers out of his home. Since the day in 2004 when Jim came to our home and set up our new computer, no one else has touched any of our family’s computers and laptops. I referred to Jim as “my computer paramedic.”
After the shop opened on Main Street, I was frequently bringing Jim one of our laptops or tablets with a cracked screen, a crashed hard drive, internet connection problems, software glitches, contamination from a virus, programs running slow or not at all, or keys sticking because of a spilled cup of sweet iced tea.
And a steady stream of locals brought their electronics in for inspection and repair as well.
Dependent on them in many ways, we get attached to our devices and we get anxious when they don’t work because we feel cut off from the world, or we panic because we can’t access a vital document that we spent hours creating before it disappeared into Microsoft’s Bermuda Triangle.
The electronic veterinarian
Jim Cochran was like a veterinarian to whom owners brought their sick and injured Dells, HPs, Macs, and iPads. On more than one occasion I stood beside Jim in the ER
(Electronics Recovery) while he typed and clicked away on my ailing laptop, listening for a heartbeat and checking for a pulse. I’d say things to Jim like, “Is she gonna live, Doc?”
Like a surgeon Jim would sometimes have to come back with bad news such as, “A virus wiped out everything. I’m sorry. We did everything we could.”
And you knew he really did.
More often he delivered good news such as, “It was running slow because it was about to crash. We were able to save the hard drive. So, you haven’t really lost anything. You brought it in just in time.” Or “It was easy to fix. We just had to reinstall Windows and everything came back.” And you wanted to hug him.
But customers didn’t keep coming back just because Jim Cochran could fix things and had more dramatic rescues on his resume than a retired veteran of the Coast Guard.
Customers were loyal because Jim was also honest, gentle, and friendly. And because that describes his wife, Barb also.
A great team
Barb works the desk and front room of Big Dogs, and does web design. When I opened my counseling practice in 2005 it was Barb who expertly and patiently worked with me in designing my website and was prompt and gracious when my site had tech issues or when I needed to update or change content.
Whether I was going into the shop to consult with Barb about my website or bring in a Dell Latitude E6420 on a stretcher to Jim, I always looked forward to seeing them both.
We would talk about our new businesses, our children, music, and books. Barb always knew what book I was working on or had finally published, and I knew what concert Jim and Barb had recently enjoyed.
Most married couples couldn’t or shouldn’t work closely together in a business — not all day, every day. Most couples cannot simultaneously wear or alternately transfer the hats of spouse, co-owner, and co-manager. But Jim and Barb were not like most married couples. They were special and they made a great team.
The last laugh
On Saturday afternoon when I turned on my laptop to begin writing this column the keyboard didn’t work. It was fine the night before. Suddenly and inexplicably I could not make a single letter appear on the screen in any format or program. I might as well have been typing on a cereal box. I tried rebooting the laptop several times.
Google, YouTube, and Dell had advice but none of those interventions worked. And I couldn’t call Jim. I couldn’t drive to his walk-in clinic and have him put his stethoscope up to the processor and motherboard.
After several hours of futile effort, in frustration I finally gave up, powered the laptop off, and slammed it shut.
The next morning, I turned on my laptop to get some info from it that could be retrieved with mouse clicks, and just to renew my frustration I pressed a few letters on the
keyboard into the space requesting a password … and letters appeared on the screen. The keyboard was working fine like yesterday never happened.
Ha, ha, Jim. Very funny. I hope you got a good laugh out of that.
But don’t do that to me again. I was 48 hours away from beating this laptop with a sledgehammer. And you aren’t here anymore to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
I’m going to miss you, Jim. We all will.
Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin (www.ramonpressontherapy.com) and the author of several books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read Presson’s previous columns go to www.franklinhomepage.com/?s=ramon+presson.