Data retrieval. You’ve got to hate the timbre of that phrase in your ear. It sounds like one of the departments in the mid-1980s movie Brazil, a dark comedy about an absurdist future of technology and bureaucracy run amok. And now I feel like I am actually in that movie.

Meanwhile, I did something even more absurd. I wrote to the CEO and the president of the ISP, thinking, theirs being a company spending zillions of dollars to convince the public that the most significant difference between it and the others is its service, that they would make things right. They’d at least send a note of apology or, if the legal department considered that potentially too responsible, a letter of concern.

As I waited for a reply, I got my hard drive back from the data-retrieval firm. None of the data could be retrieved.

Over a month and two letters later, I finally received a response. A tech guy called. He offered me a couple of months of free service.

Some folks might regard that offer as absurd, even insulting. Not me, though. Not even when my no good, lousy, stinkin’ ISP ­announced a few days later that it was providing e-mail and a host of other services for free to everybody (loss of cyberhistory unnecessary).

No, that’s what, these days, I call service.