Not all of my blacksmithing adventures are focused on computers. Sometimes the people are the key, and sometimes there’s even a happy ending.

Glen was a simple fellow. Recently moved to Mountain River from somewhere on the mainland, he arrived with nothing but a laptop and a ute, and a dream of starting his own business selling hand-crafted beers. I’m a teetotaller who only drinks fizzy mineral water, so I disappointed him about fifteen times during the course of our first meeting. Not only did I decline the offers of “just a taste”, but I also by seemed to have no appreciation at all for the finer points of brewing. That and the nature of his computer problem are irrelevant, though. It wasn’t until I’d collected my very reasonable fee and was heading out the door that he said something that made the day worth writing about.

ElephantHe mentioned, out of the blue, that he was saving up to go to Africa to meet his future wife.

Gentle interrogation revealed the story. He had struck up a romance with a woman by the unlikely name of Lieutenant Bachmann O’Leary, a young officer in the Canadian army, stationed in Nigeria. They had never met; their entire romance blossomed on Facebook and by email. But it was true love, definitely! No doubt in Glen’s mind.

I figured I knew what was going on here, so I sat down and asked him more. Bachmann was an odd name, I suggested. How did he know it was her real name? He showed me a photo of a woman in army camouflage, smiling to the camera, with BACHMANN on her name patch. Ah, I said. So it’s her surname? No, Glen told me, I thought that too, but she said her surname is O’Leary, and I believe her. Why would she lie?

I asked how his saving was going. He admitted that it was a little shaky. He’d only recently moved to Tassie before he “met” the love of his life, and he’d had to send her a substantial sum already, due to some medical problem she’d had involving her brother. Wasn’t her brother Canadian, I asked, and therefore covered by the mediocre but comprehensive Canadian health system? Apparently not; her brother was also in Nigeria, though not in the army. Glen seemed blithely unaware of how unlikely that sounded.

It was at this stage that I understood my own predicament. Glen clearly believed the nonsense that some scammer was feeding him. A random photo snatched off Facebook, a sob story and a few professions of undying love, and he was caught. Glen was mostly an attractive fellow, and he didn’t seem particularly dense, but clearly he’d been taken in by someone with a talent for pressing his buttons. If I tried to convince him that he’d been scammed, he would double down. I needed to figure out a way to head him off his fatal path before it was too late.

I was pondering this, and seriously considering a swig of his home-brewed ale to help me think, when Glen’s computer pinged and he shouted for joy. “She’s online right now! You can meet her!”

GG2009-0362-007He proceeded to chat with her over Facebook Messenger, so I took my leave. But I left him a note: “Glen – when you get a chance, type ‘Bachmann Facebook army’ into Google and see if you get anything”. He was distracted in conversation with his “beloved”, but he nodded vaguely as I left.

I next heard from Glen a month later, when he needed help interpreting a different kind of nonsense, this time the instructions sent by Telstra for setting up his new landline internet. (He’d been using mobile broadband, which is a pricey proposition if there’s any alternative) I casually asked about his long distance romance, and he laughed. “Oh, that! I did that Google search you mentioned, and up came a Facebook page with the same photo in it that I showed you, and a bunch more. Turns out there’s a Corporal Leanne Amelia Bachmann in the US Army, stationed in Kandahar. I asked ‘my’ Bachmann about that, and she tried to claim it was her sister. I called her a liar, so she called me a name and blocked me on Facebook. I haven’t seen her since.”

I asked how he felt about that, and I think he was pretty philosophical. Sure, he spent most of a week drinking nearly all of his product, but then he pulled himself together and concentrated on the much more vexed issue of getting his bloody internet up and running. The way he saw it, the romance had been true enough for him, even if it was all fake from her end. Now it was over, and that meant he was free to live his life. He had saved a fair bit toward his African honeymoon: enough to buy a lot of really shiny new brewing equipment. He was planning a strawberry Guinness that he was sure would sell like hotcakes. I declined his offer of a free bottle of the first batch. I am, after all, not an IT beer connoisseur, and clearly not an IT matchmaker. I’m just an IT blacksmith.