Say Kaddish over your dead computer

By Ted RobertTed Roberts

She was getting old. You could tell her passion was waning even though she was only 22 years old. Two out of three times when I clicked on her button she wouldn’t turn on. Well, she turned a dusky orange, but not that inviting – “here’s your mail” green that I had come to love. My pals – who all hated her – because she was a species – a MAC – different from their PC “helpmeets” (as Genesis expressed it) just giggled at my attempts to turn her on. “She’s too old – get a new PC.” For some neurotic reason, which is beyond my understanding, they loved to call her a “boat anchor”. Not a door stop, not a mantelpiece decoration carving, not an icon in the Museum of Modern Art, but a boat anchor.

Jealousy. That was what it was. Jealousy because they didn’t have a 22-year-old antique that no longer pulsed with activity, but still awed the world of electronic art with teal blue and gray voluptuous curves. She stood upright on my desk, but her soul was in Computer Heaven. That, I was sure of.

Now to the computer store for the autopsy. Meaning – could we extract the thousands of stories – tens of thousands of words that when put in artful sequence, compose my life, my soul, my work. Strangely, as soon as I arrived at the MAC store, Miss blue and teal – upon plugging her power cord into the wall – sprung into action. What allure did the MAC Store circuitry have that my office didn’t? I lit up like the computer. “It works, it works,” as I danced a cadenza between the aisles. The light goes green – my emails fill up the page. I grab the patient ready to take her home. My doctors – there are three at the MAC store – defer. “Why did it start now,” I shriek, “and remain unconscious when I plugged and replugged it per instructions from the three MAC physicians?” It wasn’t unplugged long enough was the explanation. In other words, if I had only waited time enough, I’d be in my comfy office soothing my MAC by brushing her big, blue forehead and no risk of losing my life’s work.

As I was dancing, the computer went black as the cave where Elijah hid on Mt. Carmel. Remember, he was hiding there because Jezebel sent a hit squad of Baalites – worshipers of Baal – out to get him.

I quit dancing. I reminded the store owner that he had already suckered me for two previous computers and why would a name brand computer quit after 22 years. He scowled and gave me a 15-minute lecture on the longevity of computers. I knew in my heart he had some valid points, but managed to squeeze out a few tears. “Only 22 years – so young”. I sobbed and I gave him a 15-minute lecture on Kaddish and sitting shiva for 22-year-old friends. I could tell he didn’t get it. Then I remember – how could I forget – that over 1400 stories, commentaries had lived in the heart of the deceased. I cry some more.

We finally arrived at a price for a new, friendly computer. And his promise – with his right hand on the victim – that my 1400 stories would be resuscitated. My old friend was toast. The new one, he stressed, was just like my old pal. Just push the button and go through my usual procedure. Nothing, he stressed, had changed (except the price, naturally). Samo, samo. I, who had believed until a few years ago that storks brought babies, believed this Bubbameiser, too.

I took my new friend to the office – went through my usual procedures and got a display that called me and my mother (may she rest in peace) a dirty name and said something else that I can’t repeat in a computer language, mumbling about an alias.

I was on the phone immediately with some instructions I half understood. But it worked – with the aid of an army of TechDrek friends. The script for this three-act drama was repetitious. I lay on the floor moaning, “Oy, my 1400 stories”. Their line was equally short, though they didn’t understand the “Oy”. “Teddy, it’ll be okay.”
And it was. Thanks to them.

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