Gladys of ’97 is currently in the garage. She is waiting to be hauled away to the old computer graveyard at the dump, or landfill, or solid waste transfer site, or whatever we’re calling the place this week.
She was nearly twenty years old. Her Windows 97 logo gave her age away every time I tried to coax her into waking up. First, a light would flicker. Then, an unholy sound like two rabid mice kickboxing would commence in the bowels of her bulky gray tower. While I waited for that madness to end, I’d do other things like check emails on my work laptop or walk the dog. Gladys and I had an understanding. She couldn’t be rushed. Neither could the mice.
Once she was awake, I’d use a mouse of a different kind to urge Gladys into performing a task. My “nudges” mainly consisted of clicking the mouse and waiting for something, anything, to happen on the screen. I’d also speak gently to her, which intrigued the dog enough to sit and watch. Some days, the old gal showed up for work. Other days, she’d just groan loudly and go back to sleep. I tried not to take it personally. After all, In her youth, she’d been a good computer. She knew how to do stuff and she never once complained if I left her on overnight.
The kids were not as understanding where Gladys and her declining health were concerned. They are young, impatient, humans accustomed to high-speed everything. Whenever they come home and need to print something, for example, all I hear is, “OMG, MOM! This (blankety-blank) computer is taking FOREVER!! How can you stand it? WHY DON’T YOU GUYS GET A DIFFERENT COMPUTER??? WHY?” To which, I’d shrug and say, “what do I have to do that is so important that I can’t wait a few minutes for a computer to wake up from a nap? She’s old and tired. Give her time. She’ll get around to it eventually.”
My son finally decided that my relationship with Gladys and my unwillingness to replace her had to end and he drove up from the Cities with his old computer for me. Looking at this strange new device, I was reminded once again that when it comes to technology and twenty-somethings,”old” is a relative term. Unfortunately, he was missing some high tech-y cable to get it running. Did you know that when you get a computer now that you need a different kind of cord than the ones from twenty years ago? I didn’t! The Boy went back to his high-speed life before it arrived by mail this week, and I was left to figure out what went where without him. Considering that there were about fifty different ports of different sizes on the back of the sleek, black, tower, this was no small feat. Then, I had to remember how to set up the wireless mouse and the wireless printer which you would THINK would be simple since there were no wires to plug into any holes, wouldn’t you? You would be wrong.
Finally, when I thought it was all systems go, I took a deep breath and turned everything on. Lights blinked and a choir of geeky angels sang. No mice could be heard kicking the daylights out of each other. The mouse in my hand worked and the printer spat out a test page. This is HUGE, I tell you! HUGE. I know how to do stuff! I do!
I texted my son to gloat. I may or may not have even referred to myself as a “technological Beast” in my text. His reply? Not “Good job, Mom!” Only this:
Keep telling yourself that so I don’t have to come home and fix the computer.
Okay, kid. Whatever.
I’ll bask in my greatness alone right after I give Gladys a proper burial.