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Suburban Island

Technology: Our Friend and Foe
Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2003, 11:22 p.m.

QUESTION: Who turned on the fog?

WHAT I LEARNED: Unplug it and go home.

Here are the thoughts that my day boiled down to –

  • Technology sucks,
  • A cab ride can bring you closer to God,
  • The Mothership knows what I need AND knows the value of overnight shipping,
  • I make up good passwords,
  • Gas gauges are there for a reason.

To elaborate:

Just because you don't look at the gas gauge doesn't mean the car is not perched on the edge of that giant E as in EMPTY. I don't know how much gas is in my car right now but I have a feeling I traveled home on angels wings and a few fumes tonight. I was tired. I was tired because of technology and the demands of being professional. I was tired because I was on the phone so long with my company's tech support line that I couldn't snack on the apple I brought from home for the 3:00 munchies, or get another can of diet coke from the vending machine, or hit the ladies room in a timely fashion. I was tired because I had to fritter away my day and I didn't even get to have any fun doing it.

I wrestled with my computer for 5 hours today, burning up all the time I was going to spend on splendid strategic thought generation and instead giving all my energy to technology troubles. Luckily, my failing laptop has been revitalized by the arrival of a new shell from the Mothership. This is no small thing because without the speedy response of the Mothership, I have no work, no play, no techno-life. A few minutes with a tiny screwdriver to switch things out and voila - I will have a touchpad where there was an old mouse, I will have network connectivity where there was only fruitless curses, and all this with no fingerprints on the screen or crumbs in the keyboard because it's all new or kind of new. Not having a computer for 5 hours took it all out of me. Exhausted and defeated I shut it down.

Computer 1 - Human 0.

The IT help desk had to access my calendar to get the address of my early evening function - locked away in Outlook and totally inaccessible to me. In order for them to do that, I needed to give them my password. It's good to think about your password at work before actually setting it because as much as we think it's our little secret, it's really not and at some point, it is likely that at the most unlikely moment, you may find yourself required to provide it - probably while your boss is standing there. Luckily my password was funny and so I got my address info with the minimum of humiliation.

I had to attend a holiday function across town. I deposited the electronic traitor that is my laptop in the trunk of my car which was huddled in the building garage waiting only to head home, slammed the trunk door good and tight, and with only the tiniest semi-martyred sigh, headed out into the damp, cold, dark night to catch a cab - in the middle of rush hour, with a drizzle coming on.

The first cab I caught wanted to take a side trip to pick up a nice old lady who may not be waiting downstairs for the cab and was probably 15 minutes out of the way with traffic. Thank you Mr. Cab Driver - why did you pick me up? He left me off at a convenient corner as if he were doing me a favor dropping me off there to catch another cab instead of just driving past me to begin with and letting me catch a cab that was actually going in my direction in the first place. The second driver provided me with a spiritual experience as he darted frantically from lane to lane, punching the gas, and cutting off other drivers. I buckled up for Jesus after a few minutes and pretended I was on a high-speed theme park ride instead of the back seat of a smelly rattling cab at 5:30 on an ordinary work night.

I was starving by the time I arrived. I figured this would be my little dinner. That was bad figuring. The function was in a conference room in the back of an office – no frills, just folks - and the food was picked over or blocked by chatting merry-makers. Excuse me - can I push you aside and wolf down half this melted Brie cheese with the fruit in the middle? I also couldn't find any liquid refreshment available for swigging down with the veggies and dip but maybe I didn't look hard enough as other people were wandering about with cups in hand. I ate a lot of cheese and some cookies that I dipped daintily in a bowl of whipped cream – although I am sure Miss Manners would have frowned on this. I never found the soda or a bottle of inexpensive wine to pour into small plastic cups. Even a glass of watered wine punch would have been welcome - I realized a bit sadly - as I headed out into the night an hour later to a suddenly foggy evening. I stuck my hand up in the air in the heavy fog that had draped itself over the city. I knew it made standing in the street to hail a cab dangerous and relatively useless but I am a hopeless optimist and besides I wanted to go home.

images from

I did catch a cab although I had to share it. Someone’s phone kept beeping but everyone pretended like it wasn’t theirs. (I swear it wasn’t mine.) I bought a bottle of wine, 2 Hershey bars, and a carton of Parmesan cheese at the grocery store on the way home. This made me feel better somehow because as I handed the cashier my money I realized that as long as I had $10 bucks and a craving for pasta and chocolate - technology was never going to be the boss of me.

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