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NT: What do you do, tickle them?

Gailand: I make them laugh. Because with a company name like mine, you have to show them that you're not a meanie. Having someone come into your home to look at your computer is a very personal thing.

NT: Yeah. When I take my computer in for repair, how do I know you guys aren't peeking at what I've got on my hard drive?

Gailand: You don't. Any of us can copy your hard drive and you'll never know it. Me? I don't need to. I don't want to see where you've been or what you're up to.

NT: But you want us to know all about you. Your company Web site includes a great deal of personal information about you, like your astrological sign and a pile of photographs of your son.

Gailand: To some people, astrological signs make a difference. I don't understand why, but they do.

NT: You mean some people are looking for a computer tech with his sun in Uranus?

Gailand: Not specifically. I put that on there for people who are into astrology because then they can look up on their astrology thingies whether we're going to get along.

NT: The site also includes photographs of your extensive collection of role-playing game books. I'm not sure what that is. Does it involve dressing up?

Gailand: No. It's no different than playing a first-person shooter on your computer. I don't do LARP.

NT: I don't know what you're talking about. Help me out here.

Gailand: Live Action Role Play. I don't do that. I play a game called Vampire, and sometimes I play Shadow Run. Your character does something, and you have to describe what he does, and that comes across in the way I think because it alters the perception of how people see me.

NT: I'm sort of completely lost. What are we talking about?

Gailand: If you've never played, it's hard to understand. I've been playing these games since I was a teenager, and it helps define who I am. Most people start role-playing games when they're about 12 or 13, and unfortunately I never grew out of that. Everyone fantasizes about being someone else, and role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons let you see how it would feel to kill monsters in the desert or whatever.

NT: Or whatever! There's a poem on your company Web site that states your personal philosophy. Part of it goes, "What is Eternity? It is the knowing that I can never truly be happy. It is the realization that I can never truly love. It is the knowledge that I will never die nor will I ever really live." This does not make me want to hire you.

Gailand: I was having a bad day when I wrote that. My opinion has changed now that I have a son. The bright side is that that poem has stopped a lot of people from doing something stupid. I used to work in a bar, and I had that poem laminated on little bitty cards and I gave it to people who looked like they were about to snap.

NT: Your poem saved lives! Does it bother you how we're all married to our machines these days?

Gailand: They've become leashes on life, and it's about to get worse. Pretty soon you'll be able to do everything just using your cell phone, even buy soda from a vending machine.

NT: You're lying.

Gailand: No, I'm not. You'll be able to order fast food with your phone, and all your medical information will be on your phone. So if you have a medical emergency . . .

NT: Stop. I don't want to know this. But tell me something: It seems like there's a particular personality type working in your industry. Why?

Gailand: A lot of gamers have become computer techs because you have to think beyond the reality of the situation when you're fixing a computer. More intelligent people become computer techs. But you don't have to insult your customer with that intelligence in order to get the job done.

NT: Most computer geeks seem to feel differently.

Gailand: Thin, wiry guys or potbellied guys with tape on their glasses seem to evoke that name for some reason. I guess it's stereotyping. I try hard not to be that. But either way, at the end of the day, when my customers are writing me a check, I always give them a chance to say "Phuhque!"

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela