The keyboard of my father-in-law’s computer has two options for typing numbers. There’s the top row where the keys 1 through 9 are listed in numerical order (except for the 0 which is after the 9 for whatever reason) and there’s an area over to the right where the same numerals are arranged in a nifty three-key-by-three-key box (except for the 0 key which is its own row underneath the 1 and 2 for whatever reason). When typing digits, in order to take advantage of those number keys over on the right there’s a ‘Num Lock’ key that needs to be ‘turned on’. If this ‘Num Lock’ key hasn’t been activated the number keys below it won’t work (for whatever reason) and instead of the number you pressed appearing on the screen as you’d expect, the cursor jumps around the page in apparent random fashion and for the few seconds it takes you to realize what the hell is going on it’s all quite upsetting. Luckily, there’s a little green indicator light situated just above the ‘Num Lock’ key that let’s you know if the ‘Num Lock’ is currently ‘on’ or ‘off’.
I have a theory regarding that indicator light.
My father-in-law despises the site of that green indicator light. He will not tolerate it. I believe this because every time I sit at my father-in-law’s computer I have to turn Num Locks back on.
We typically fly out to visit my in-laws for a few days every summer and every Christmas - total of about five or six days a year. During those days I’ll use the computer five or six times a day. My phone gets terrible reception so I use the computer to check my email, twitter, facebook, the weather, sports scores, soft-core porn and pretty much anything else that’ll kill ten minutes to break up the monotony of a day spent at the in-laws. Since it’s not my computer, any accounts that I log in to I make sure to log out of when I’m done. All my passwords incorporate numbers so each time I sit down at the computer numbers must be typed. When typing numbers I like to take advantage of the Num Lock controlled real estate to the right of the keyboard as the familiar arrangement of the digits allows me to type numerals with greater speed and accuracy then that damned top row of numerals ever could. Yet every time I attempt to do so, every goddamned time, I find that I must first turn Num Locks back on.
I should state for the record that I’ve never actually seen my father-in-law turn Num Locks off (hence it being only a theory) but he’s the only other one using the computer. It has to be him. Sometimes a mere hour will pass between my computer sessions yet still the Num Locks must be reactivated. The computer resides in the kitchen, the hub of activity in the house from which my father-in-law rarely strays so while I cannot with 100% certainty confirm it is him I similarly cannot rule him out as the primary suspect. I’ve gone so far as to research the default setting of his Dell computer to see if it Num Locks might be automatically turning off after a certain amount of inactivity. It does not. On particularly boring evenings I’ve gone so far as to sit at the computer and stare at the green indicator light for well over an hour so to see if it turns off by itself. It does not. He is turning it off when I’m not looking.
This shit has been going on for eight years. Given that my efforts to confirm my suspicions and crack the case have thus far failed, I can only assume that the same level of dedication to remain undetected exists on the other side. We are in a full-fledged stealth and unspoken Num Lock war. And while my theory is that the battle wages on because my father-in-law abhors the site of the green indicator light, I can’t dismiss the possibility that the only reason he turns it off is because he knows who is turning it on.
Now I’ve always considered my relationship with my father-in-law one of mutual respect, toleration, and lack of understanding. Regardless of our differing views on politics, religion, food and lord knows what else we both love his daughter and my children and that’s more than good enough for me. But I can’t speak for Bob. Perhaps striking that Num Locks key and watching the green dim to black is Bob’s way of voicing whatever points of contention he may be harboring towards his son-in-law.
I hope I never catch him.