A rising tide of irritation - nice people like me never admit to
anything approaching rage -- greets the 37th appearance of the Windows screen, its sequence of three efficient-looking blue dots busily humming back and forth, for all the world as if it were doing something. It's not doing anything; it just turns black and empty, then sighs and shuts itself down. Then it tries again.
Do I have anything important on my hard drive, the young woman from
Technical Support wants to know. The question quite takes my breath
away: Of course I have important things on my hard drive. What
do you imagine I have -- trivial things? I don't say that, of course;
meekly, I tell her that we have backed up our files onto CDs. I am
aware, as I say this, that I am talking with someone who does not
remember the entrancing smell of mimeograph fluid, nor the lurid purple
documents it produced, who may never have heard the word "mimeograph". Someone who may not know what carbon paper is. There will be limits on how close she and I can become.
Now I am sitting before another busy screen: my hard drive is as naked
as the day it was born, a blank slate. Do I want a tour of Windows XP,
a popup wants to know. Hell, no. But I cannot type that in response; I
have been instructed not to hit any keys. When I am in this far over my head, I follow orders. I just insert disks in different colors and hope for the best.
But really: how bad can it get? We can't use the thing anyway, not as
it is. Why not go boldly ito the unknown with my electronic guide?
Why not try? If I can't fix this thing, I won't have a computer
anymore, which is exactly my condition right now. I have absolutely
nothing to lose.
Popping the disks in and out and doing as I am instructed may or may not get me a usable computer. Life holds no guarantees. I feel better
doing it, though, than I did when I was just sitting and watching the
thing kill itself, over and over.
Perhaps that feeling I named so euphemistically was neither irritation
or rage: perhaps it was despair. Perhaps it was the dead bitterness of
my powerlessness I tasted as I stared at the screen.
If we must die, let us die trying, until it makes no sense to try any
more. Let us not go knowing we didn't do everything we could. If we
fail, let us fail at something and not at nothing. To fail at exactly
nothing: that would be the cruellest fate of all.
I am typing this eMo on my cellphone, no mean feat. We do not yet know
whether I will meet success or failure with the desktop. But I am
trying. That knowledge alone brings a certain peace.