Mr. and Mrs. Fix-it

Ray and Trish Norman

Photo By Serena Cervantes

Ray and Trish Norman don’t own a business, but they do offer a service. Ray has been a technical consultant his whole life. He learned about computers by working for a company where they fixed and maintained them for hospitals all over the United States. In 2000, he was told he was disabled with spinal arthritis. So, he retired and started fixing people’s computers on his own. Ray and his wife, Trish, moved to Chico a year and a half ago from Oregon, and he has helped more than 200 people with their computers ever since—for free. The couple helps seniors and the disabled with setting them up, repairing and restoring them, or helping them buy new ones without getting cheated into high costs. To contact the Normans, call (530) 809-0298.

Why is your service focused on seniors and the disabled?

Ray: Elderly people and disabled people are easily intimidated by a computer and more often are the people taken advantage of. That’s what we’re trying to stop. They don’t want to walk into a store and lay down $400 and get something they don’t need. People can’t afford $100 to find out what’s wrong [with their computer]. I do the work for them.

Can you give an example of someone you’ve helped?

Trish: There was a woman who was saving up money for three years to buy a computer. Now she had $1,000. Ray asked her what she wanted to use it for and she said, “e-mail and playing games.” Ray said you don’t need $1,000, but if you walk into a store and said you had $1,000 to spend on a computer, that’s what you would’ve gotten. Ray found out what she needed, and it turned out she needed a $450 computer.

What do most of your clients use their computers for?

Ray: Most people we help are real low-income and need to communicate with their kids all over the world or the United States.

Trish: People use Skype.

Ray: We did one for a lady whose whole family was in Japan and she was in her 70s. She communicated with them through her computer. With a speaker and a set of headphones you can make a long-distance call to anybody on the Internet, anywhere, and it won’t cost you anything.

Why do you do what you do for free?

Ray: People don’t have the money. It’s a service to people and I know I can do it and I know I’m good at it. We’ve seen people cry, we’ve seen people happy, they just don’t know what to do! We got an 8-pound can of beans that was given to us by people who we fixed computers for …

Trish: … Two pounds of fresh-picked blackberries, gas money. The whole purpose would be gone if we charged people.