Monday, November 28, 2011

When Technology Attacks

It took me a long time to warm up to the idea of cell phones. I remember my dad once complaining I should get one, because then he could reach me more easily if I was in the car. I was horrified at the thought. About the only time I ever got any peace and quiet was when I was in the car by myself. The idea of being reachable anywhere and everywhere at all times couldn't have been less appealing. I finally caved in a couple of years later, once my son got old enough to want to roam around town without me. The phone I once didn't want has now become practically an extension of my arm.

Although I may be more tech-friendly these days, technology and I still have an uneasy relationship. Just like some people emit a weird electromagnetic frequency that breaks their watches, I seem to do the same thing for computers. Whenever I have to call the tech department at work (which is often) I hear the dread in their voices when they realize who it is. And no matter what the issue is, they somehow always end up saying "How did you do this? We've never seen anything like it!" I can never tell them how I did it because I don't know myself.

Looking back I see my initial encounter with a computer was probably prophetic. It was in 1989 and I had just started work at my first-ever office job at Home Life Insurance. On my very first day I managed to bring down the mainframe for the entire company after only ten minutes on the machine. Over the course of my career I've gone on to mangle computer files and be thwarted by hardware at every job I've had since. I snarled up the drive-through computer at Boston Market, right in the middle of a spectacularly long line of cars during the height of dinner service on a Friday night. I crashed the plate maker on a massive rush job when I was in printing. And here at my present job, I'm on my third PC in just seven years.

My powers of technological destruction aren't limited to the work place, either. Once a friend asked me to help him set-up his wireless router. The instructions said it would be easy. It wasn't. I fought that thing for hours. Finally, it was up and running. Oddly enough, though, my friend's computer couldn't access it. His brother who lived across the street, however, could. We never did figure out how that happened - or how to fix it. For the entire two years he lived there if he wanted to go on the internet he had to go next door.

This morning when I got to work my email was down. About a dozen people have called into the office to say they, too, are having problems so I don't think it is me (this time). Everybody who called so far sounds frustrated and annoyed. Personally, I'm just glad it wasn't me for once, so I'm going with the flow. I'm going to make myself another cup of coffee, open my snail mail and relish not being connected while it lasts.

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