On new computers


My Macbook died last week. I was in the middle of looking something up for my son, which he could really have been looking up himself, but I was there and…anyway, the screen went all weird so I turned the computer off and on again, as Roy from the IT Crowd would have told me to do, and the screen stayed blank and the Macbook beeped at me in a desultory way. I rang the Apple Store who had never heard of such a problem, but if i logged in I could make an appointment at the Genius Bar. So I got my phone out, old, small but functional, and got onto the Apple Website. Screen of phone too small to make it possible to really see appointments on Genius Bar, although I did eventually learn that it was going to be at least a week before anyone could see me and my computer.

So I took it up the road to the computer fixit shop. A week later, they said they could fix it for $700 or so. I said no, it was a second hand machine in the first place, I would’t spend that much having it repaired. Which left me with the choice of buying another second hand one, with no warranty, or going to the Apple Store.

The purpose of the Apple Store is to make you feel as happy as possible while spending shitloads of money on a product that lasts 7 years (that was the age of my last one, and the Customer Service Representative I spoke to told me that was about average). So I spend a bucket of money on a computer that will last a few years, and I walk out smiling like a Cheshire Cat, as if I’ve just solved the problem of world poverty, when in fact, I’ve just joined the ranks of the poor and will be needing food handouts for a while.

Now I am shaking. I have managed to set the thing up (it is very beautiful, I just want to stroke it), and I opened my files – yes, they were all there! And I am stuck. It’s like I am staring at the blank age of a new notebook, full of possibility – but will I succeed, or will I fail? With my Work In Progress open before me, my fingers hover above the keyboard but seem to have no intention of descending to the keys, of forming words and sentences. My mind is blank. I am awed by the new machine. It has some sort of power over me – the power to make me doubt myself, to fear typing sentences that it feels are beneath it. As if it is the Judge and I have to prove my worth.

It is just a machine. It doesn’t know what I’m typing. I am the master of it, not the other way around. It’s taken me a fair while to realise that. So I will go back to my WIP with determination, gritted teeth and stern words for my hands. They will obey me and type. I will finish the book. The computer is my friend. Repeat after me…the computer is my friend. Deep breaths.


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