My Life With Computers

computers

I am not a violent person, but whenever images of my first computer come to mind, I remember a poster that hung on a wall where I once worked. It depicted a man screaming and holding a huge hammer high above his computer. The caption read:

HIT ANY KEY TO CONTINUE

I bought my first computer about twenty-five years ago. I was one of those writers who wrote by hand and then typed it up later. I eventually bought a lap-top computer, which cost me along with the second-hand hard drive and printer about a thousand bucks.

It had a small, charcoal gray screen, which is a fine color for a handbag or a pair of shoes, but terrible for the eyes to look upon. It also had the memory of an amnesiac. I would lose words as I was typing, while a warning flashed and disappeared on the screen before I could even blink!

A friend gave me a mini lesson on how to operate the new computer and everything was fine until he went home and I tried to turn it on. I couldn’t even find the on/off button. After an hour or so, I had to call my friend and ask him again where the button was. After I found it, I was still unable to do anything other than turn the machine on or off. No matter which button I pressed, I reached a blank screen. I was all alone as they say, but nowhere near the telephone.

I tried to make some progress the next day, but I finally had to call my friend again to ask him hypothetically where my work would be if I had any. In those days of yesteryear I smoked, and cigarette ash, coffee and creativity kind of went together. Sometimes strange things slipped inside the computer, but whatever missed the space between the keys my cats made up for by walking all across the keyboard. (I had a cover, but they bit it to shreds.)

At first, I tried to use the computer every day. Eventually, I covered it with a sheet and ignored it, pretending that it had offended me in some way. My writing was piling up and my notebook was running out of space. Since I had given my typewriter away to another struggling writer after I bought the computer, I was forced to conquer the Mount Everest of the technologically challenged.

I had many a dream about the computer devouring my apartment, like that movie about that beast in Cleveland, only bigger. I had to do something; it was either it or me. One morning, after I had lost two hours of work without any warning, I got so disgusted that I disconnected the machine. I then, with malice aforethought, opened the door to my apartment and checked up and down the hallway to make sure no that one was watching.

I walked to the end of the hall and opened the metal door to the incinerator; it creaked. I was eleven floors up and I remember thinking that was a long way down. In a fit of cyber-homicidal peak, I threw that bloody computer down the incinerator. To this day, all I have to do is close my eyes and I can hear the clackety-clack as it hit the incinerator walls on its final descent to the furnace.

A few years later, I bought another computer with a nice size monitor, significant memory and a screen that is not a color I would want to match to a spring ensemble. Am I ever tempted to throw away this machine? I sure am, but I’ve matured. Besides, this one’s too big to throw down the incinerator!

(photo courtesy of Nomadsoul1/Dreamstime.com)